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Human-Drones Teaming for Autonomous Rescue with Fast Reinforcement Learning

   School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing (SATM)

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  Prof Weisi Guo  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is an opportunity to study for a PhD degree sponsored by EPSRC and Thales UK in the area of machine learning for search and rescue. You will be developing human-machine teaming techniques to allow human and drones to work alongside each other to rapidly improve search and rescue in natural and manmade disaster areas. The focus of the project will be on machine learning and experimental testing.

In many emerging crisis areas, the environment has changed compared to prior knowledge. This makes autonomous tasks such as search and rescue very challenging, as it cannot exploit prior maps and contextual knowledge. Human-drone teaming (HDT) can overcome some of these challenges and requires a mutual understanding between the human ground stakeholders and drones.

It is paramount to study how autonomous drones can reason the specific situation efficiently and improve the situation awareness based on the prior knowledge from the human experts to accomplish the rescue task successfully.

This is an industrial Thales UK and EPSRC sponsored award, with the view to improve human-machine teaming in future autonomous systems. Thales Group employs over 80,000 people globally and has generated 18bn in revenues.

The expected impact is to demonstrate the integration of human knowledge with machine learning in autonomous / drone systems in a changing environment.

 The project is supported by a healthy amount of opportunities to experiment, travel to conferences, and be embedded with the industrial funder.

 The student will gain rich experiences in machine learning, real world engineering, engaging with industry and academia.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. This project would suit those who have an aerospace or information engineering background interested in machine learning. We welcome students from underrepresented groups.   


Sponsored by EPSRC and Thales UK, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £15,000 (tax free) plus fees* for four years.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact:

Name: Prof. Weisi Guo

Email: [Email Address Removed]

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form.

Funding Notes

Sponsored by EPSRC and Thales UK, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £15,000 (tax free) plus fees* for four years

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

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