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PhD Studentship: Development of New Fluid-powered Artificial Muscles for Soft Robots

University of Bath - Mechanical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bath
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Funding will cover Home/EU tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£14,777 pa (2018/19 rate)) and a training support fee of £1,000 per annum for 3.5 years
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th February 2019
Closes: 30th April 2019

Supervisor name: Dr Min Pan

Email contact: 

Research Centre: Centre for Power Transmission and Motion Control

Animals exploit soft structures to move smoothly and effectively in complex natural environments. These capabilities have inspired robotic engineers to incorporate soft actuating technologies into their designs. Developing soft muscle-like actuation technology is one of the grand challenges in the creation of soft-bodied robots that can move, deform their body, and modulate body stiffness. Current muscle-like functional materials, such as shape-memory materials and electro-active polymers operate by shrinkage or expansion of materials that require high operating voltages, lack robustness and the low efficiency leads to poor energy and power density. The development of new artificial muscles is important and can revolutionise the area. This project aims to design and develop new fluid-powered artificial muscles for soft robots to provide high power and energy density along with robustness. The idea is inspired by the functionality of human muscles with an ambitious scope of providing high operating force and pressure (to 60 bar) and deformation capability (50%) using a unique combination of new rubber materials, a high-tensile sleeve and accurate numerical models. The proposed muscles can be used to construct robots with diverse functions for extreme environments and applied to service robots and assistive devices, which offer safer and more robust human interactions. The outcomes will significantly accelerate the design and implementation of soft robots and have significant academic, economic and societal impacts. It will benefit researchers and engineers in the area worldwide, and strengthen UK research ability in Robotics by creating new capabilities in challenging environments and ensuring safer human-robot interactions.

Candidates with experience/interest in fluid power systems, control engineering, dynamic systems, modelling and simulation are very welcome to apply.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Min Pan (

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:


Funding will cover Home/EU tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£14,777 pa (2018/19 rate)) and a training support fee of £1,000 per annum for 3.5 years. Early application is strongly recommended.

Application criteria

The successful applicant will ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with an undergraduate Masters first class degree or MSc distinction (or overseas equivalent).

English language requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding.

Expected start date 30th September 2019

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