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School of Engineering and Materials Science Research Studentships

Using machine learning techniques to optimise the motion performance of soft robots physically interacting with their environment

Supervisors: Kaspar ALTHOEFER

Application Deadline: 28-02-2021

This PhD research proposal will develop “soft” robotics in sub aqua marine environments where these are not yet as well developed as “hard” land based robotics systems. Existing “hard” robotics systems provide wide ranging capability with varying levels of autonomy (algorithms/software) and mission systems requirements, including technologies for sensing, orientation, decision making/planning, control.

This project has potential to co-develop research capacity and application of this technology. Prototypes and potential use cases will provide protection and support keeping military, first responders and civilians safe. Application might cover IED defeat, CBRN/hazmat identification, reconnaissance, combat engineering support, logistics, explosive inspection and disposal, fisheries protection, the development of tactics, techniques and behaviours for Manned and Unmanned Teaming in dynamic, uncertain environments.

This will include development of working prototypes, modular in design, to enable integration of third-party software and easy system upgrades. Safety and the validation and verification of such systems will enhance defence capability in this area to prevent personnel being exposed to risks and hazards.

This PhD project is a collaboration between University Queen Mary University of London, UK and ENSTA Bretagne, France.

Research Studentship Details

  • Available to Applicants from the UK and France only.
  • Full Time programme only
  • Applicant required to start in April 2021
  • The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of £17,285 for up to three years.
  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).
  • Please note that this studentship is only available to Home Applicants. (See: for details) 

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Prof Kaspar Althoefer


Application Method:

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Mechanical Engineering programme (Full Time) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Research degrees in Engineering:

Further Guidance:

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2020 SEMS KAA’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity.