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  Dr Hannah Dee  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The UKRI CDT in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Advanced Computing (AIMLAC) aims at forming the next generation of AI innovators across a broad range of STEMM disciplines. The CDT provides advanced multi-disciplinary training in an inclusive, caring and open environment that nurture each individual student to achieve their full potential. Applications are encouraged from candidates from a diverse background that can positively contribute to the future of our society. 

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) fully-funded scholarships cover the full cost of tuition fees, a UKRI standard stipend of £15,921 per annum and additional funding for training, research and conference expenses. The scholarships are open to UK and international candidates.

Closing date for applications is 12 February 2022. For further information on how to apply please click here and select the "UKRI CDT Scholarship in AIMLAC" tab.

Project Overview

The purchase of a new underwater robot (a Sparus II submarine from Iqua Robotics) with 2- and 3-dimensional imaging capabilities opens up new avenues for detailed spatio-temporal monitoring of sea floor state via robotic sensing. This project would be interdisciplinary, developing skills in AI, robotics, and marine science. The robot will be programmed to follow a survey path at a distance to the seafloor, and capture datasets (sidescan SONAR and visible spectrum imaging) of the same area at multiple time points. These datasets would be large and unique, with computational challenges to solve in three main areas:

- Registration, both between modalities and across times.

- Object detection and recognition in underwater domains.

- The extraction of image features from 2d and 3d which correspond to change in the marine environment.

When a vessel is anchored the mooring chain may be dragged repeatedly across the seabed in an arc around the anchor as the vessel moves with tidal motion (Davis et al. 2016). This chain-scour is likely to impact the sediments and it is necessary to quantify the impacts of this anchor footprint on benthic communities. Broad et al. (2020) found that 90% of studies of anchoring and mooring focused on recreational vessels and identified that empirical investigations of anchor scour stemming from large merchant ships are scant and require urgent attention. The aim of this research is to gain an understanding of the effects of disturbance by anchoring activity of merchant vessels on the soft-sediments at Red Wharf Bay. First the student will develop a method for using AIS Ship Data to estimate anchoring intensity. We will use AIS vessel tracking data (obtained through an existing collaboration with Global Fishing Watch) to identify the area impacted by anchors and anchor chains. Anchored vessels in tidal areas will move around the anchor in a half or full-circle, which means that the position of the anchor and the paths of the anchor chain can be inferred from the circle of AIS locations that is transmitted by anchored vessels. Areas with different intensities of anchoring activity will then be surveyed four times using the Sparus II AUV over the period of a year to quantify differences in sediment topography. We expect sediment topography to change throughout the year in anchored sites, and during storms in unanchored sites.

 - Repeated surveys using side scan sonar and video

 - Compare difference in topography between surveys

 - Relate difference to anchoring activity between surveys

 - If possible, capture imagery of anchoring in action, which is impossible using other methods because you cannot get close using a boat or divers.

The project would enable new work to be done in underwater imaging and also marine science. 

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