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Postgraduate research project

Passive propulsion in vortex wakes

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

As a researcher on this project you will engineer a novel bio-inspired propulsion and control system inspired by fish. 

Dead fish can generate propulsion force in the wake of a cylinder and whales can save energy by following large ship wakes. Such flexible unsteady bodies can achieve propulsion with no extra power cost. 

You will utilise a tandem foil system that leverages this inexpensive mode of locomotion using hybrid control gaits. You will: 

  • investigate stable operation modes and performance for a robotic arm
  • learn different force and flow measurement techniques
  • generate novel in-situ control methods

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.  You will work with other students to organise industry-facing workshops and report your progress to DSTL.

You will have access to our excellent facilities such as the Maritime Robotics Lab and the Experimental Fluids Lab located at Highfield and Boldrewood Innovation campuses.

Project supervisors

Alongside Doctors Kurt and Townsend in Southampton, your supervisors will include:

  • Dr Gabriel Weymouth