Dr Bruce Alexander MacDonald

BE (1st class honors), PhD

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Associate Professor » Electrical & Computer Engineering

Organisational units


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)

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Stafford, R. Q., Broadbent, E., MacDonald, B. A., & Li, X. (2014). Older People's Prior Robot Attitudes Influence Evaluations of a Conversational Robot. International Journal of Social Robotics, 6 (2), 281-297. 10.1007/s12369-013-0224-9
  • 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).
  • 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. (pp. 8). 10.1109/VLHCC.2014.6883033
  • Stafford, R. Q., Broadbent, E., MacDonald, B. A., Jayawardena, C., & Wegner, D. M. (2014). Does the Robot Have a Mind? Mind Perception and Attitudes Towards Robots Predict Use of an Eldercare Robot. International Journal of Social Robotics, 6 (1), 17-32. 10.1007/s12369-013-0186-y

Contact details

Web links

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.

Office hours

Email me to make an appointment.

Primary location

Level 3, Room 903-342
Auckland 1023