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PhD Studentship: Towards Improved Seabed Imaging through Increased Situational Awareness and Characterisation of Uncertainty Budgets

University of Southampton

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Southampton
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 8th August 2018
Closes: 3rd September 2018
Reference: CDT-SIS-526

Fluid Structure Interactions Group

This industry funded PhD will investigate how the measurements made using structured light and multi-view imaging techniques can be improved through:

  • Adaptive optimization of imaging conditions (frequency, illumination intensity, strobe duration) based on an increased awareness of data acquisition conditions (e.g. range to target, velocity, seawater turbidity), and  
  • The use of physics based illumination models to recover the colour information in the images that are obtained and determine their uncertainty budgets

This PhD will investigate how the measurements made by underwater robots using structured light and multi-view imaging techniques can be traced to SI units. 3D reconstructed landscapes of the seafloor and infrastructure on it can now be generated in a routine manner. However, there are many cases where the quality of the data obtained is not optimal due to non-ideal operating conditions (e.g. vehicle altitude tracking inaccuracy, effect of current on vehicle speed), and because it is applications where the data is only useful if we know how difficult it is to characterise how accurately of the models that are generated, represent the actual landscape that have been observed.

This PhD will develop methods to improve the quality of data that is obtained based on an increased situational awareness and realtime control/optimisation of mapping conditions used by the imaging systems, and develop models to characterize the uncertainty budgets that stem from instrument inaccuracy, vehicle localization uncertainty, environmental parameters and modelling. Both physics based and probabilistic methods will be used to characterize and constrain these uncertainties, and aC series of controlled experiments will be performed using a seabed imaging system developed at the University of Southampton. The candidate will The project will also involve going to sea and participating in sea trials and processing data collected in real-world seabed monitoring applications.  

The project will be a balance of theoretical and experimental work. It will involve working with actual measurement systems, integrating realtime control algorithms, designing tank controlled experiments using tank facilities and participation in ocean research expeditions both in the UK and abroad. The project will suit candidates with strong analytical skills, experience with electronics, and programming and an enthusiasm for experiment design and hands on , practical fieldwork. The successful candidate will be working within the Fluid Structure Interaction Group of the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, and the candidate will also work with collaborative partners Sonardyne International (UK), the Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, (Japan) and the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, The University of Sydney (Australia).  

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Blair Thornton, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 23 8059 7322  

Applications are considered on a case by case basis, please can you make sure that you get your application in as soon as possible for the project if you are interested to avoid any disappointment.  

This project is being run in participation with the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Infrastructure Systems (View Website). For details of our 4 Year PhD programme and further projects, please see

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