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Fully funded PhD Studentship - Soft robotic pipe explorer for radiological characterisation

   School of Engineering

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  Dr S Monk, Dr D Cheneler  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

An enhanced and fully funded PhD studentship is available for the development of soft robotics capable of navigating 50mm diameter pipework. The device will be equipped with sensors and other instrumentation in order that it can characterise pipework for radiological activity to facilitate decommissioning. The project is in collaboration with Dounreay Ltd, but will be physically based in Lancaster.

Within the nuclear estate, it is necessary to characterise the radiological environment within pipework structures which typically have a diameter of 50 mm and possess features such as swept bends and T-pieces. Human access is obviously not possible within these networks and thus the assay of the radiological activity is difficult. Traditional hard robotics are one way to traverse pipework, but their limitations mean that it may be that soft or continuum robotics could prove more effective in these environments. This PhD work involves the development of a cost-effective soft robotic based pipe crawler. It is expected that the finished device will be a ~200 mm long, semi-autonomously controlled instrument capable of propelling itself through a long and complex pipe network. The front of the robot assembly will feature a simple camera and LIDAR system to allow the operator an RGBD view of the inside of the pipework to facilitate teleoperation and decision making.

We are interested in candidates with a good degree (UK equivalent 1st or 2:1) in subjects such as engineering, robotics, mechatronics, computer science, nuclear engineering or a similar subject. Skills which will be very useful in this project include CAD, sensor interfacing, mechatronic design, data analysis and programming. For informal enquiries please also contact [Email Address Removed] or [Email Address Removed] or alternatively candidates interested in applying should send a copy of their CV.

Funding Notes

The award will pay full tuition fees and an enhanced UKRI maintenance grant for 4 years (currently the standard £15,609 plus an enhancement of £3,000 per annum for 2021-22, subject to annual inflation increase). This project is only suitable for UK applicants due to the nature of the funding and ease of access to UK restricted sites.
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