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Postgraduate research project

Learning to swim with ray-inspired sensing and morphing

Fully funded (UK only)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

During your PhD, you will engineer a novel bio-inspired propulsion and control system inspired by rays. Rays have arrays of pressure sensors all along their wings (pectoral fins). These sensors provide information about the flow state over their wing. Sensor distribution differs between rays that undulate with small amplitude travelling waves and those that flap with large amplitudes. Your project will utilise a neural network to understand how actuation and sensing relate in a ray-robot capable of undulation and flapping. 

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has awarded the University of Southampton with 3 PhD studentships in bio-inspired underwater propulsion. You will become a part of a UK-wide cohort of PhDs in this area, which includes students at other UK-based universities.  

We encourage applications from candidates with knowledge of or interest in:

  • mechatronics
  • hydrodynamics
  • robotic design and experimentation
  • control and machine learning

The PhD candidates will have access to a large array of facilities including Maritime Robotics Lab and Experimental Fluids Lab located at Highfield and Boldrewood Innovation campuses.

In addition to the regular activities of a PhD, you will interact with other students in your cohort, organise industry-facing workshops, and report your progress to DSTL.

Come join our Bioinspired Underwater Propulsion cohort and learn novel ways to move underwater!