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Biologically-inspired Guidance for Autonomous Systems

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Jump
    Dr P Paoletti
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

Within 20 years, we can expect to see fully autonomous vehicles, aircraft, robots, devices, swarms, and software, all of which will (and must) be able to make their own decisions without direct human intervention. Such autonomous system can operate in otherwise inaccessible environments and under hazardous conditions in addition to offering improved performance over their manned counterparts. Yet, whilst autonomy can allow systems to be developed and problems to be solved well beyond current possibilities, it poses new challenges. How can it be known that they are safe? How can their performance be guaranteed?

The natural world has already evolved autonomous systems in the form of, for example, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals, that can successfully guide themselves through the cluttered environment that is the Earth’s surface. It is posited that this is achieved through the direct perception of the optical variable ‘tau’, or time-to-contact. Tau theory is based upon the premise that purposeful actions are accomplished by coupling the motion under control with either externally or internally perceived motion variables – the so-called motion guides. Motivated by its basis in visual perception, researchers at The University of Liverpool have applied tau to manned flight control and handling qualities. It was discovered that tau-based flight control offers advantages in terms of both removing unwanted modes of motion and in guaranteeing no overshoot of the target position. These are, of course, also useful traits for autonomous systems in terms of the questions posed above. A project is therefore proposed to develop tau-control techniques for autonomous systems to establish whether the anticipated benefits of its use can be fully realised.

This post is suitable for applicants who have graduated with a first class degree in Aerospace, Mechanical or Electrical/Electronic Engineering, Computer Science or a related/relevant technical discipline. Applicants with a high scoring 2:i will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Funding Notes

Due to the source of the funding, this project is only available to UK students.

How good is research at University of Liverpool in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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