Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
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Analysis of termite vibration signatures to innovate stealthy hexapod gait pattern

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

This is a collaborative project between the Defence Science and Technology Group and a private

This project will sit with the:
- School of Computer Science, the School of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and
- within the Centre of Audio, Acoustics and Vibration.

This project will have a practical component and the PhD candidate is to be trained as a Junior Robotics Engineer for 1 (first year) to 2 days (third year) per week.

The Centre for Audio, Acoustics and Vibration (CAAV) was formed in 2017 and now has nine full time academic staff. The Centre is based at Tech Lab, which is a brand new research led facility that is close to the airport in Sydney. Tech Lab hosts brand new state-of-the-art acoustics experimental facilities that includes an anechoic chamber, semi-anechoic chamber, reverberation room and sound transmission loss suite. These new facilities will support new research projects in acoustics, including this current project. The CAAV works also closely together with the Centre for Autonomous Systems (CAS).

Robotics Systems is an Australian-owned company located in Newcastle with expertise in Technology/Automation/Integration and a strong track record working with CSIRO and Defence. The practical work in this project will provide an opportunity to be involved across all aspects of engineering from front-end design through to product manufacturing. The Junior Engineer in training will be working on a new technology with exciting product innovation within a small professional and supportive team with an inclusive manager. The role provides a fully supported opportunity to complete a PhD over 3 years. This is an excellent opportunity to work with a growing business who are world leaders in their field.

About the project:

Walking of arthropods especially that of insects have inspired engineers and scientists in the past. While hexapods are being designed and build for life rescue missing in natural disaster regions, to climb walls and bridges, enter into otherwise inaccessible areas, little knowledge is yet adapted from nature to mimic a natural walking gait. Recent findings indicate that termites can walk very quietly and dodge predatory ants by avoiding excessive footstep vibrations, thereby staying up to 100 times quieter. Using the new acoustic laboratory facilities at TechLab as well as the Microstructural Analysis Unit, insect extremities will be studied for their dynamic and mechanical properties. The finer details of the legs will be examined including the resilin content in the leg joints using microscopy. The vibration signatures of ants and termites are explored studied in details using nonlinear time series analysis and statistical techniques as well as machine learning methods. The mechanical properties will be fitted into mathematical gait models, which can be implemented into controls of commercially available state of the art hardware.

The successful candidate will work in a thriving acoustics research group at a brand new facility dedicated to impactful research and which will include the chance to collaborate with researchers in other areas at Tech Lab, as well as undergo research training and development in collaboration with DSTG and the industry partner. The candidate is required to spend some time with the industry and
the defence partner (posting). The project will develop an understanding of the vibration signatures in ants and termites and how to implement them inversely (coming from the response) into hexapods. We are looking at a recently graduated candidate with a Mechatronics degree or also Physics degree with excellent academic records.

The PhD candidate should have strong interest in mathematics, especially statistics and machine learning. Knowledge of nonlinear dynamics and nonlinear time series is not expected but desired. For the practical component the candidate requires a strong interest in software/electrical engineering. The project will involve working closely with a partner from Defence. Only Australian citizens will be accepted.

Funding Notes

AU$42,000 p.a. for Domestic Candidates for 3 years (tax free) with additional project support. The training and work as Junior Engineer will be remunerated additionally and is taxable but will include a superannuation component.

Closing date for next intake
Australian Domestic students: 30 September 2019 (for commencement January 2020)

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