Evolution and learning of grasping mechanisms for lab-based robots

   School of Physics, Engineering and Technology

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  Prof A M Tyrrell  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Robots are used in many applications. A number of these require grasping in one form or another. These tend to be designed for one application and “hand-designed”. A more generic approach using evolutionary methods should be able to produce grasping mechanism suitable for many applications.

Objective, Approach, Novelty:

The proposed project’s focus will be on autonomous execution of robotic grasping tasks, and the incorporation of evolutionary methods for on-line adaptation, both in terms of evolving the grasping mechanism(s) and evolving the robot’s behaviour and learning process. The work will involve a number of novel areas, consisting of experimental work as well as simulations: (i) Applying evolutionary methods on robotic grasping tasks on-line, using sensory data gathered from realistic tasks and then (ii) Optimising the capabilities of a robotic gripper to execute a given task in terms of hardware, intelligence, and constraint fulfilment.


The project will provide excellent opportunities for training in the areas of robotics, evolutionary computing and experimental laboratory practice.

What is ALBERT?

Doctoral Training in Autonomous Robotic Systems for Laboratory Experiments

A cohort of students will be part of a mini, pilot Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) focused on developing the science, engineering, and socio-technology that underpins building robots required for laboratory automation, e.g. in chemistry and related sciences. Albert represents an autonomous robot that conducts laboratory experiments that are cleaner, greener, safer, and cheaper than anything achievable with today's conventional techniques and technologies. Developing Albert offers significant socio-technical problems for science, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities. The YorRobots Executive and the Institute for Safe Autonomy will provide international leadership for this research area.

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 or a closely related subject.

How to apply:

Applicants must apply via the University’s online application system at https://www.york.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/apply/. Please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process.

To apply, please select the PhD in Electronic Engineering for September 2024 entry. When completing your application form, please select 'CDT Autonomous Robotic Systems for Lab Experiments' from the drop down menu for 'How will your studies be funded.'

Candidate selection process:

You should hold or expect to receive at least an upper second class degree in a relevant subject. Applicants should submit a PhD application to the University of York. 

Computer Science (8) Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

We have fully funded projects available for the September 2024 start. Fully funded for up to 3.5 years by the EPSRC/University and covers (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£18,622 for 2024-25), (ii) tuition fees, (iii) funding for consumables. Candidates of any nationality are welcome to apply and up to 30% of DTP studentships may be awarded to exceptional international students.

Where will I study?