Dr Bruce MacDonald

BE (1st class honors), PhD


Bruce completed a BE (1st class) and PhD in the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of Canterbury. After working with NZ Electricity for three years and a year at the DSIR in Wellington, he moved to Canada and spent ten years in the Computer Science Department of the University of Calgary.

Returning to New Zealand in 1995, he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Auckland. The department was then starting a new development in computer systems engineering and he was involved in setting that up. Bruce also started the Robotics Laboratory.

His long term goal is to design intelligent robotic assistants that improve the quality of people's lives.  One of his current projects is to develop robots to help care for older people, which is a multidisciplinary project undertaken jointly with Korean researchers.


PhD in Electrical Engineering
Bachelor of Engineering (First class)


Research | Current

  • Human robot interaction
  • Robot programming systems, with applications in areas such as  healthcare and agriculture.

Research groups

  • Robotics group


Teaching | Current

  • COMPSYS 726 - Robotics and Intelligent Systems
  • SOFTENG 306 - Software Engineering Design 2
  • ELECTENG 101 - Electrical and Digital Systems


Leader,  Faculty of Engineering research theme: Technology for Health

Areas of expertise


Committees/Professional groups/Services

Professional affiliations

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Broadbent, E., Kerse, N., Peri, K., Robinson, H., Jayawardena, C., Kuo, T., ... Jawalkar, P. (2015). Benefits and problems of health-care robots in aged care settings: A comparison trial. Australasian journal on ageing.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Hayley Robinson, Elizabeth Broadbent, Ngaire Kerse, Kathy Peri
  • Robinson, H., Broadbent, E., & MacDonald, B. (2015). Group sessions with Paro in a nursing home: Structure, observations and interviews. Australasian journal on ageing. 10.1111/ajag.12199
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Elizabeth Broadbent
  • Mann, J. A., MacDonald, B. A., Kuo, I.-H., Li, X., & Broadbent, E. (2015). People respond better to robots than computer tablets delivering healthcare instructions. Computers in Human Behavior, 43, 112-117. 10.1016/j.chb.2014.10.029
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Elizabeth Broadbent
  • Robinson, H., MacDonald, B., & Broadbent, E. (2014). The Role of Healthcare Robots for Older People at Home: A Review. International Journal of Social Robotics, 6 (4), 575-591. 10.1007/s12369-014-0242-2
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/25346
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Elizabeth Broadbent
  • Taylor, L. M., Klenk, J., Maney, A. J., Kerse, N., Macdonald, B. M., & Maddison, R. (2014). Validation of a body-worn accelerometer to measure activity patterns in octogenarians. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 95 (5), 930-934. 10.1016/j.apmr.2014.01.013
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ngaire Kerse, Ralph Maddison
  • Ahn, H. S., Santos, M. P. G., Wadhwa, C., & MacDonald, B. (2014). Development of Brain Training Games for a Healthcare Service Robot for Older People. SOCIAL ROBOTICS, 8755, 1-10.
  • Broadbent, E., Peri, K., Kerse, N., Jayawardena, C., Kuo, I., Datta, C., & MacDonald, B. (2014). Robots in Older People's Homes to Improve Medication Adherence and Quality of Life: A Randomised Cross-Over Trial. Paper presented at 6th International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR), Univ Technol,Ctr Quantum Computat & Intelligent Syst, Sydney, AUSTRALIA. 27 October - 29 October 2014. SOCIAL ROBOTICS. (pp. 10).
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Kathy Peri, Ngaire Kerse, Elizabeth Broadbent
  • Diprose, J. P., Plimmer, B., MacDonald, B. A., & Hosking, J. G. (2014). A Human-Centric API for Programming Socially Interactive Robots. Paper presented at IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, Melbourne, VIC. 28 July - 1 August 2014. 10.1109/VLHCC.2014.6883033
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Beryl Plimmer, John Hosking


Contact details

Alternative contact

When in the city campus at a desk I may be in building 303, rooms 231, 236 or 253 in a shared office space. And for meetings there are nearby rooms 251 and 252. However please contact me by email if you are looking for me as I'll get the email regardless of location.

When sending paper mail please send to:

Dr Bruce MacDonald

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Faculty of Engineering

New Market Campus

University of Auckland

Private Bag 92019

Auckland 1142

New Zealand.

Office hours

Email me to make an appointment.

Primary location

BUILDING 903 - Bldg 903
Level 3, Room 342
New Zealand

Social links

Web links