In intraoperative settings, the presence of acoustic clutter and reflection artifacts from metallic surgical tools often reduces the effectiveness of ultrasound imaging and complicates the localization of surgical tool tips. We propose an alternative approach for tool tracking and navigation in these challenging acoustic environments by augmenting ultrasound systems with a light source (to perform photoacoustic imaging) and a robot (to autonomously and robustly follow a surgical tool regardless of the tissue medium). The robotically controlled ultrasound probe continuously visualizes the location of the tool tip by segmenting and tracking photoacoustic signals generated from an optical fiber inside the tool. System validation in the presence of fat, muscle, brain, skull, and liver tissue with and without the presence of an additional clutter layer resulted in mean signal tracking errors <2 mm, mean probe centering errors <1 mm, and successful recovery from ultrasound perturbations, representing either patient motion or switching from photoacoustic images to ultrasound images to search for a target of interest. A detailed analysis of channel SNR in controlled experiments with and without significant acoustic clutter revealed that the detection of a needle tip is possible with photoacoustic imaging, particularly in cases where ultrasound imaging traditionally fails. Results show promise for guiding surgeries and procedures in acoustically challenging environments with this novel robotic and photoacoustic system combination.