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PhD Studentship: Hybrid Compliance: Programmable Six-Axis Remote Compliance Enabled by Smart Hybrid Filler Elastomers for Robotic Assembly and Disassembly

University of Birmingham - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Funded - see advert
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 4th December 2023
Closes: 4th March 2024

Compliance facilitates the alignment of objects in automated assembly and disassembly. Compliance is a key technique to cope with uncertainties in positions and motions in automated operations. The stiffness of 6-axis compliance (3 translational motions and 3 rotational motions) and the location of centre-of-compliance can all affect the performance of assembly and disassembly (e.g. minimised friction or jamming).

There are two types of compliance for robotic assembly and disassembly: passive compliance and active compliance. Passive compliance is reliable, efficient but not flexible; active compliance is flexible but slow.

This project aims to combine passive compliance and active compliance to create HYBRID COMPLIANCE that can deliver high efficiency as well as high flexibility. Hybrid compliance is a novel mechanical compliance device with tuneable stiffness along 6 axes (3 translational motions and 3 rotational motions) as well as tuneable centre-of-compliance.

This research is underpinned by new research work on a new type of metal-polymer composites (i.e. the FMHE) with self-triggered tuneable conductivity and stiffness. The new material research offers new material options for developing multi-axis tunability.

Hybrid compliance can be key to small-batch high-variation assembly (e.g. in aerospace, automotive and electronic industries) and disassembly (e.g. in recycling and remanufacturing) both of which require high efficiency as well as high flexibility, and in high demand for robotisation due to the labour shortage and the productivity gap.

This research project is a joint collaboration between the University of Birmingham, the University of Southampton, and several industry partners. As part of the PhD project, there will be opportunities to travel to partner locations and to present findings at international conferences.

Entry requirement

We are seeking an enthusiastic and highly student with good interpersonal skills and a keen interest in research. The applicant must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or a distinction or high merit at MSc level (or international equivalent) in Mechanical Engineering, Materials, Control Engineering or a related subject. Preference will be given to candidates with relevant research experience.

Funding notes:

Successful applicant will be put forward for one of the scholarships provided by the School of Engineering of the University of Birmingham. The scholarship is for 3.5 years and is intended to start by October 2024. The studentship provides a tax-free stipend at UKRI rate for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK rate. A small number of fee waivers are also available for international students.

References:

Yun, Guolin, et al. "Electro-mechano responsive elastomers with self-tunable conductivity and stiffness." Science Advances 9.4 (2023): eadf1141.

Zhang, Yongquan, et al. "Peg–hole disassembly using active compliance." Royal Society open science 6.8 (2019): 190476.

Su, Shizhong, et al. "Design of a compliant device for peg-hole separation in robotic disassembly." The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology 124.9 (2023): 3011-3019.

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