The Marine Autonomous and Robotic Systems Group (MARS) at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), the Robotics Group at Ifremer, Fr, and the University of Southampton (UoS) in the UK are looking for an excellent candidate to undertake a PhD at the University of Southampton under the UK-France Joint PhD Programme.
The Programme is a 3 years fully-funded (fees and stipend) PhD studentship to UK/French applicants for the development of long-range, long-endurance autonomy for challenging underwater environments. The objective is that to developing algorithms for intelligent on-board control and adaptive mission planning (e.g. maximise data delivery given observations made during the mission) coupled with enhanced situational awareness regarding the environment and the mission goals. Attention will be given to understanding how the approach interacts with real world robotic constraints such as environmental and/or adversarial disruption of sensor inputs, and resource limitations.
The ideal candidate will have a strong academic background in computer science/mathematics/control or a closely-related numerical discipline. They will have strong mathematical skills, particularly in relation to reasoning about probabilities. Knowledge of artificial intelligence/robotics techniques and proficiency with a programming language are highly desirable.
**Due to the nature of the funding, the student must be a UK or French national**
Rationale and Methodology
Ocean-going robots operate within some of the most extreme environments on Earth. In such highly dynamic environments, traditional pre-scripted missions are limiting, based on expectation rather than observation. Consequently, a robot's ability to reason about sensor data and adapt its plan accordingly is crucial to maximising the delivery of mission objectives. This PhD aims to develop techniques for online plan adaptation under uncertainty, to enable a robot to react to opportunities arising mid-mission, for example performing a high-resolution survey of a detected feature. With a focus on implementation within full-scale platforms, the project will model and ensure compliance with real-world operational and logistical constraints, including limited power and communication and the need for operator oversight and accountability. By making incremental online modifications to the plan using techniques such as plan repair and pre-built plan libraries, the set of resulting plans and robot behaviours is bounded and predictable whilst allowing the robot to remain flexible to emerging opportunities and changing resource availability.
This PhD provides state-of-the-art, highly experiential training in the application and development of cutting-edge robotic systems, alongside comprehensive personal and professional development. There will be extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial / government / policy partners.
The student will be registered at University of Southampton, and hosted at National Oceanography Centre, Marine Autonomous and Robotic Systems, UK, and at the Robotics Dept. of Ifremer, France.
The student will have access to resources at NOC (Southampton, UK) and Ifremer (Toulon, Fr), two of the top oceanographic research institutions in the world, including Europe’s largest fleet of Marine Autonomous Systems, with opportunities to join trials and scientific surveys at sea using state-of-the-art robotic platforms.
Specific training will include:
- Use and deployment of autonomous systems;
- AUV informative path planning and vehicle control;
- Machine learning algorithms such as reinforcement learning, deep neural networks;
- Robot localization and navigation, including simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM).
For further background information, see
- MARS Group: https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.noc.ac.uk_facilities_marine-2Dautonomous-2Drobotic-2Dsystems&d=DwIGaQ&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=PHb1rah00ScbGqeEgNm5n_GjOL-XQRs1Dc1EvhIftKw&s=8Smr6eY30rpjrhFMhh1-3AnndETlQ7s5gv68ySdiIK8&e=
- Ifremer: https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__wwz.ifremer.fr&d=DwIGaQ&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=PHb1rah00ScbGqeEgNm5n_GjOL-XQRs1Dc1EvhIftKw&s=6o5JA1znzlooF0VOKYl2Azu2xo_ZfypUGrU7zWWWqFk&e=<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__wwz.ifremer.fr_&d=DwIGaQ&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=PHb1rah00ScbGqeEgNm5n_GjOL-XQRs1Dc1EvhIftKw&s=6BE5S2tzSEF9RMztNPXghR1DPlOVjGQhJqNH-fl_lX4&e=>
- University of Southampton: https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.southampton.ac.uk&d=DwIGaQ&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=PHb1rah00ScbGqeEgNm5n_GjOL-XQRs1Dc1EvhIftKw&s=hlMbzzFgNgr_YniGh2r1oH2oGFInqV66sjFrugrch0A&e=<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.southampton.ac.uk_&d=DwIGaQ&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=PHb1rah00ScbGqeEgNm5n_GjOL-XQRs1Dc1EvhIftKw&s=olCmiSmG3wM23D2DmT5l0yu8nfwrJKMOQK-y2g04jO0&e=>
How to apply
The Student should have a minimum of a 2.1 honours degree or higher in a relevant discipline to the call.
Pre-applications and informal inquiries can be made to Dr Andrea Munafo ([hidden email]<mailto:[hidden email]>) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter indicating your interest in the project and why you wish to undertake it.
Formal applications can be completed online: https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.ecs.soton.ac.uk_phd_how-2Dto-2Dapply&d=DwIGaQ&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=PHb1rah00ScbGqeEgNm5n_GjOL-XQRs1Dc1EvhIftKw&s=ppUZgH6yOLqK4MkwPW6ypFO_b5HHMrFqytd4w4FlnuY&e= - selecting Prof. Eric Rogers or Prof. Jon Downes as supervisors.
Dr. Andrea Munafo'
Marine Autonomous and Robotics Systems
National Oceanography Centre
e-mail: [hidden email]
phone: +44 (0) 23 80596051
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