The potential for robotic technology to enable an increase in the installation of green walls and facades whilst reducing OHS and maintenance costs is significant.

This is the view of Professor Sara Wilkinson and Dr Marc Carmichael who are heading up a research project at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) looking into the advantages of using a new technology to inspect, monitor and maintain green walls on the side of infrastructure and buildings.

“The benefits of urban green infrastructure are widely accepted and include urban heat island attenuation, increased biodiversity, reduced carbon emission, biophilia effects, provision of spaces for social interaction, attenuation of rainwater flooding and improved air quality,” Professor Wilkinson said.

“With climate change and increasing temperatures a stark reality for all of us, resilience and liveability, as well as sustainability, are greatly enhanced through the adoption of Green Infrastructure (GI).”

Despite the advantages of GI, the team at UTS believes that industry does not install greens walls to the extent that we could or should be doing. They say this is mainly due to the perception of significant, ongoing maintenance costs and, on high rise buildings, OH&S issues.

Dr Carmichael said their team became aware of farmbot technology, which atomises seeding, weeding, watering and maintenance horizontally and immediately recognised the potential for assisting with vertical green walls.

“On seeing this we thought; ‘well if we can traverse horizontally, we must be able to traverse vertically’,” he said.

And with that; Wallbot was conceptualised.

Wallbot is a robotic installation that inspects, monitors and maintains green walls, and offers the chance to reduce potential OH&S issues and maintenance costs that can be associated with green walls. Wallbot has been funded by a City of Sydney Environmental Performance Grant.

“We started with an extensive literature review which focused on existing robots and wall climbing mechanisms, power sources, pruning technologies, and green waste collection, as well as, sensor technology and costs,” Professor Wilkinson said.

“We compared and contrasted all the variables and evaluated their respective merits in our design of the prototype Wallbot.”

The research design comprised the review of secondary data; research reports, peer reviewed journal papers, technical guidelines and appraised all options, which were discussed at two workshops with key stakeholders (Transport for NSW) and experts (Junglefy) in delivering GI in Australian cities.

Based on the review, a prototype design based on a 4-cable climbing mechanism was designed and prototyped at UTS. This Wallbot has sensors to detect plant growth, shape, temperature, and to create a 3D map of the plants that can be updated over weeks, months and years.

Development and trials were conducted over a two-month period on the movement and control systems. Planted green wall pods, provided by Junglefy, enabled the team to collect data on plant health and Wallbot sensors ability to assess plant health.

“COVID-19 prevented us from conducting external field trials but our plan is to run the field trials as soon as we can, and augment Wallbot functionality to include maintenance and pruning of plants,” Dr Carmichael says. “We are seeking partners and further funding for Wallbot II.”

You can check out the current Wallbot in action in this short two minute video here.

For more information about Wallbot or to provide your support for the project reach out to Professor Wilkinson at or Dr Carmichael at

Professor Wilkinson was recently interviewed for the second edition of UDIA WA’s magazine The Urbanist where she discusses the advantages of using algae as a sustainable building product. To read the article, click here.