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Autonomous cooperation of bio-inspired adaptable lightweight mobile robots

   School of Physics, Engineering and Technology

About the Project

In challenging planetary environments such as Mars, a diverse range of terrains must be traversed to deliver sensing instruments and achieve scientific goals. Stringent constraints are be placed on the power use, payload mass, and terrain tolerances of the robots that must carry these instruments over long distances for future missions to other planets. A single type of robot and mobility system is in many cases not capable of satisfying all the necessary constraints while providing efficient mobility over sand, rocks, and sloped areas, much less in caves and liquid environments.

This research focuses on the design, fabrication, and autonomous control of simple but dissimilar mobile robots for planetary use. Using the principles of wheeled tensegrity and superlight mobile structures, new types of mobile robot will be developed such that they are able to cooperate with each other to reach formerly inaccessible areas and complement each others’ strengths and weaknesses in harsh environments. Physical cooperation, combination movement, and novel mobility concepts are some potential methods by which to achieve advanced mobility on complex terrains under autonomous control.

Due to the separation from controllers on Earth, these robots will need to make decisions together, adapt to their environment, and deal with unexpected situations in an appropriate manner fully autonomously and could as a group be capable of performing operations such as inspection, assembly/reconfiguration, and construction of future human habitats or other hardware systems. Group sensing and control can make use of software tools developed for space robotics, including the CDFF framework developed in the InFuse project.

Entry requirements:

Candidates should have (or expect to obtain) a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2.1) or equivalent in Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Music Technology or a closely related subject.

How to apply:

Applicants should apply via the University’s online application system at Please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process.

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded project and you will need to have sufficient funds in place (eg from scholarships, personal funds and/or other sources) to cover the tuition fees and living expenses for the duration of the research degree programme. Please check the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology website View Website for details about funding opportunities at York.

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