Designing the next generation of unmanned air systems - Project CASCADE

University of Southampton - Computational Engineering & Design, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment

Research group: Computational Engineering & Design, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment
Deadline: 31 July 2018

We are inviting applications for fully funded PhD studentships on Project CASCADE, aimed at bringing about a step change in the use of unmanned aircraft technology. The successful applicants will join a team of researchers at one of the world’s leading academic groups specialising in fixed wing drone technology, based in the Aeronautics, Astronautics and Computational Engineering (AACE) Department of the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment.

Over the next five years we will be partnering with the Civil Aviation Authority, BAE Systems, QinetiQ, DSTL, Thales, the Met Office, the National Oceanography Centre and several other organisations with an interest in unmanned aviation to target the fundamental research questions behind some of the main technological roadblocks in the path of the effective uptake of drone technology.

We will explore questions like how do we automate and accelerate the parametric design of mission-bespoke aerial vehicles? How do we design the next generation of computational environments that will support decision making in the drone design process? How do we integrate the on-board electronic systems into the airframe structure, thus reducing complexity, cost and mass? How do we stretch the operating envelope of unmanned aircraft? How do we build heterogeneous systems that integrate aerial and surface/underwater vehicles? How do we calculate operational risk and can we integrate such models into an automated risk assessment system?

The unmanned air vehicles team based at AACE has exceptional facilities at its disposal, including a suite of laboratories, state of the art rapid prototyping facilities (including multi-material 3d-printers), two mobile field operations support vehicles fitted with radars, satellite communications equipment and high performance computers, as well as two test sites capable of supporting an extensive range of flight test operations. The team has also recently added an optionally piloted air vehicle to its fleet of unmanned air systems, a two-seat light aircraft equipped to conduct flight trials of autonomous system technologies (such as novel communications pods and payloads).

UK and EU students will be eligible for fully funded studentships for four years including both fees and stipend. Overseas (non-UK or EU) students may be admitted to the programme, but additional funding will be required to pay the difference between overseas and UK/EU fees. Applicants would typically be expected to have a first-class degree (or non-UK equivalent) in aerospace engineering or a closely related discipline (e.g., electronic engineering, software engineering). Some experience in aerial robotics is an advantage, but not essential. We also expect successful applicants to have excellent technical communication skills, as you will have to report the findings of your research in high quality scholarly publications.

Please enter the title of the PhD Studentship you are applying for (CASCADE) within the application form.

If you wish to discuss the project informally, please contact András Sóbester, CED research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 2350.

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