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Dr Stephen D Prior BEng, PhD, PGDipHE, CEng, MIMechE, FHEA

Reader in Unmanned Air Vehicles

Dr Stephen D Prior's photo

Dr Stephen D Prior is a Reader in Unmanned Air Vehicles within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Dr Prior gained a BEng Mechanical Engineering degree in 1987 and a PhD in Robotics from Middlesex University, London in 1993. He is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer, Corporate Member of the IMechE and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. His research interests are in the areas of Aeronautics, Autonomous Unmanned Systems, Robotics and Design Engineering. He was Project Lead for the MoD Grand Challenge i-Spy team in 2008 and was the Team Leader for Team HALO, winner of the DARPA UAVForge Competition 2012. He has been an editor for the International Journal of Micro Air Vehicles since 2010 and Unmanned System Journal since 2013. He is also a non-executive director of Tethered Drone Systems Ltd.


Eurobot Competition - National Winner 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014

IMechE UAS Competition 2019
5th and 7th Place Overall
Award for Innovation (first transitional aircraft that demonstrated flight)

IMechE UAS Competition 2018
2nd Place Overall

IMechE UAS Competition 2017
2nd & 3rd Place Overall
Awards for Payload Delivery and Navigation Authority

Robots for Resilient Infrastructure
International Robotics Challenge Event
University of Leeds, 27-28th June 2017
Runner-Up Prize £600 sponsored by Kier Utilities

IMechE UAS Competition 2016
2nd, 3rd & 4th Place Overall
Awards for Innovation, Autonomous Operations and Safety & Airworthiness

Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Award 2014
This award acknowledges an outstanding contribution to education at the University of Southampton

Taiwan Innovation Competition 2013
Gold Medal
Developing a Small UAS to Win the DARPA UAVForge Challenge 2012


Research interests

I am currently supervising three PhD students involving novel aspects of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), now referred to as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or Drones.

Odedra investigated novel UGV wheel mechanisms, Erbil investigated reconfigurable landing mechanisms for novel perch and stare applications in an urban environment, and Chang investigated GPS-Denied environments for small UAVs.

Brazinskas is investigating efficient propulsion systems and Mielniczek is researching into novel Coanda vehicle design involving morphing strategies for small UAS.

My two latest PhD students Guo and Abioye are investigating control and communication strategies for small unmanned aircraft operating in BLOS operations and with novel interfaces.

Graduate PhD research students

Dr Siddharth Odedra (External)

Dr Mehmet Ali Erbil

Dr Chang Liu (Now Post-Doc Researcher on the Future Cities EPSRC-Funded Project)

PhD research students

Mantas Brazinskas

Mielniczek Witold Mielniczek (Left to start his own drone business in Poland)

Yangzi Guo

Ayodeji O Abioye

Useful Downloads

Need the software?PDF Reader
Small morphing unmanned aircraft inflight
Small morphing unmanned aircraft
Small morphing unmanned aircraft
Small morphing unmanned aircraft
Yagi Antenna propagation model
Yagi Antenna propagation model
CFD model of Coanda UAV
CFD model of Coanda UAV

Research group

Computational Engineering and Design

Research project(s)

Balancing the Impact of City Infrastructure Engineering on Natural Systems using Robots

Our vision is that of a city where infrastructure is autonomously maintained and dynamically responsive, focused on: securing the health & wellbeing of its citizens; contributing to flourishing and sustainable natural systems in the city; and creating positive economic and societal outlooks.

Defence Industries UTC liaison officer and board member for the University.

Admissions Tutor for Aero and Astro

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Book Chapters


Creative Media and Artefacts




Module title Module code Discipline Role
Systems design and computing FEEG2001 Mech, Aero and Acoustical Tutor
Group design project SESA6078 Aerospace Module Leader
Powered Lift SESA6073 Aerospace Tutor
MSc Research Project FEEG6012 Aerospace Supervisor
MEng Individual project SESA6054 Aerospace Supervisor
MEng Individual project SESM3013 Areospace Supervisor
Dr Stephen D Prior
Aeronautics, Astronautics and Computational Engineering Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus Building: 176 Room: 5029 University of Southampton Southampton SO16 7QF United Kingdom

Room Number : 176/5029

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