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PhD Studentship: Resilient Autonomous Navigation and Semantic Mapping for Agriculture Robots

Loughborough University - Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Loughborough
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £18,662 per annum for the duration of the studentship plus university tuition fees.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 28th November 2023
Closes: 12th February 2024
 

This PhD project aims to develop fundamental methods and practical solutions for agriculture robots to navigate through a variety of agricultural environments, including crop fields, orchards and polytunnels, and operate safely and reliably across different growing seasons. Developing a resilient Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM), which can deal with semi-structured and partially varying environments, would be the key to this project.

We will explore the possibility of combining the recent machine learning-based semantic segmentation techniques with the pose graph SLAM framework to achieve concurrent precise localisation and semantic mapping of the environment. This is not only required to support autonomous navigation of the robots but also plays a critical role in agriculture information gathering to support agronomy decisions.

This position is for a candidate with knowledge and interest in robotics and autonomous systems, machine learning, and sensor-fusion with an appreciation of agriculture applications. The PhD student will be based in the Autonomous Systems Laboratory at Loughborough University and will be attached to two ongoing agriculture robotic projects funded by Innovate UK.

We have advanced robotic platforms to support this project, including Boston Dynamics SPOT, Clearpath Husky and Antobot Assist robot, as well as precise sensing devices such as 3D LiDAR, stereo and thermal cameras, and RTK GPS. The PhD student will also have the chance to work with our industrial partners, ranging from robotic companies, agriculture institutes, to growers, for testing and deployment of the developed systems in real-world scenarios.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.

The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £18,662 per annum for the duration of the studentship plus university tuition fees.

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