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Humans in the design of mobile and autonomous robots

Department of Computer Science

York United Kingdom Human Computer Interaction Software Engineering

About the Project

Robotics is a very exciting area of application; not only it is fun, but it also has potential for huge economic and social impact. A lot has been achieved, and a lot is expect to happen in the next decade or so. Software engineering techniques that provide appropriate and specific support for robot engineers, however, are few and far between.

This project will will examine how human behaviour can be considered from the very beginning of the design of a robotic system all the way through to its operation. It will adopt and extend a domain-specific notation for mobile and autonomous robots called RoboChart. It is being developed under a ten-year project involving a large team of researchers in York, and collaborators worldwide (

In this project, we will consider how a model of human behaviour can be incorporated in a system model covering other elements of the environment, the robotic platform, and the control software. Using these models, we will explore how we can use a variety of verification technologies (simulation, test, and proof) to establish properties that rely on human behaviour. We will collaborate with colleagues in the Department of Psychology, and with colleagues in industry, in particular, Thales, to understand the challenges of autonomous and tele-operated systems.

Research supervision

If successful, you will conduct your research under the co-supervision of:

Prof Ana Cavalcanti -

Dr Cade McCall -

With direct involvement from our industrial partner Thales -

To apply for this studentship

You must apply online for a full-time PhD in Computer Science (

You must state “EPSRC iCASE” in the “Funding information” section of your application.

There is no need to write a formal research proposal in your application to study as this studentship is for a specific PhD project. However, a research statement elaborating your interest in the project and how your skills match the project requirements is desirable.

We will look favourably on applicants that can demonstrate a strong interest in modelling and specification. Programming experience is essential, and a good mathematical background is important.


To be considered for this funding you must:
meet the entrance requirements for a PhD in Computer Science
be a UK citizen
If successful, funding will be available for up to four years. Funding includes a minimum of:
£20,000 per year stipend and Tuition fees paid at the Home rate
Tuition fees at the Home rate
Provision for incidental costs including travel to conferences.

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