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Development of New Fluid-powered Artificial Muscles for Soft Robots

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, March 25, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Informal queries should be directed to Dr Min Pan ()

Animals exploit soft structures to move smoothly and effectively in complex natural environments. These capabilities have inspired robotic engineers to incorporate soft actuating technologies into their designs. Developing soft muscle-like actuation technology is one of the grand challenges in the creation of soft-bodied robots that can move, deform their body, and modulate body stiffness. Current muscle-like functional materials, such as shape-memory materials and electro-active polymers operate by shrinkage or expansion of materials that require high operating voltages, lack robustness and the low efficiency leads to poor energy and power density. The development of new artificial muscles is important and can revolutionise the area.

This project aims to design and develop new fluid-powered artificial muscles for soft robots to provide high power and energy density along with robustness. The idea is inspired by the functionality of human muscles with an ambitious scope of providing high operating force and pressure and deformation capability using a unique combination of new rubber materials, a high-tensile sleeve and accurate numerical models. The proposed muscles can be used to construct robots with diverse functions for extreme environments and applied to service robots and assistive devices, which offer safer and more robust human interactions.

The outcomes will significantly accelerate the design and implementation of soft robots and have significant academic, economic and societal impacts. It will benefit researchers and engineers in the area worldwide, and strengthen UK research ability in Robotics by creating new capabilities in challenging environments and ensuring safer human-robot interactions.

Candidates with experience/interest in fluid power systems, control engineering, dynamic systems, modelling and simulation are very welcome to apply. Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, an undergraduate Masters first class degree or MSc distinction (or non-UK equivalent). English language entry requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding, see

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

This project is eligible for inclusion in three funding rounds, subject to funding availability. Application deadlines: Wednesday 27 November 2019, Wednesday 29 January 2020 & Wednesday 25 March 2020. Early submission is advised. A full application must have been submitted before inclusion in a funding round.

Anticipated start date: 28 September 2020

Funding Notes

UK and EU candidates applying for this project will be considered for a University Research Studentship which will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,009 in 2019-20) for a period of up to 3.5 years.

How good is research at University of Bath in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 61.00

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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