About the Project
This PhD project concerns the development of high quality but efficient multi-sensor non-myopic sensor management algorithms for controlling sensors and unmanned autonomous systems (UAS) such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). These algorithms are needed in order to exploit the ever-growing capability of autonomous systems for security, monitoring and surveying applications. The algorithms are used to make decisions on things such as where the platforms travel, what direction the sensors are pointed in, and what configuration the sensing will take.
This project is part of the EPSRC Funded CDT in Distributed Algorithms: The What, How and where of Next-Generation Data Science. www.liverpool.ac.uk/distributed-algorithms-cdt
The University of Liverpool is working in partnership with the STFC Hartree Centre and other industrial partners from the manufacturing, defence and security sectors to provide a 4-year innovative PhD training course that will equip over 60 students with the essential skills needed to become future leaders in data science, be it in academia or industry.
This exciting and challenging studentship has been developed in partnership with Cubica Technology Ltd (Cubica). Cubica develops data fusion and sensor management software and will provide guidance, example use-cases and scenarios, as well as the opportunity to integrate and test the developed algorithms with real UAS platforms.
The non-academic partner, Cubica, will help define the problem and provide direction for the research. They will also provide example scenarios and data. There will be an opportunity to undertake in-depth placements with the Company, and opportunities to integrate solutions in existing systems and test them with real UAS platforms and sensors.
Sensor management algorithms typically use Bayesian information theoretic approaches to evaluating the “utility” or “value” of different combinations of sensor and platform actions. Even when such action combinations are evaluated over a single discrete time-step (“myopic” approaches), the problem begins to suffer from combinatorial explosion as the number of sensors is increased or the space of actions enlarges. In order to achieve high quality task choices, non-myopic approaches that consider different combinations of actions over multiple time-steps are required; these approaches are able to trade off short-term gain for higher long-term gain. Non-myopic approaches are able to identify and mitigate for real-world challenges such as obstacles (to gathering information). In general, as the number of timesteps over which the solution is optimised increases, the identified solution will approach a globally optimal solution.
There is extensive literature on myopic sensor management techniques and some literature on applied non-myopic approaches. A large amount of prior and relevant work also exists in other areas of computer science and control theory such as the travelling salesman problem and receding horizon control. However, the non-myopic sensor management problem remains under-researched, in large part due to the associated computational challenges. Realised algorithms often only operate on short horizons (e.g. 2/3/4 time-steps) and as such there is still a great deal of potential to improve the effectiveness of such approaches.
This project will investigate novel formulations of sensor management problems, as well as the use of sequential Monte Carlo techniques for identifying high quality solutions. Due to the high levels of computational complexity, a key focus of the project is likely to be understanding the potential for exploiting multi-core computing hardware such as GPUs and/or FPGAs. Another area of interest is how such approaches can generate solutions as part of a human-machine teaming concept, in order that they promote trust and transparency and help end-users understand the inherent trade-offs in the optimisation process.
This project starts 1st October 2020. (Covid-19 Working Practices available).
For information technical queries please contact Dr Angel Garcia-Fernandez, [Email Address Removed]
For general application process queries contact [Email Address Removed]
To apply please follow the DA CDT Application Instructions: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/research/research-themes/digital/cdt-distributed-algorithms/opportunities/. Submit an application for an Electrical Engineering PhD via the University's online PhD application platform (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/how-to-apply/) and provide the studentship title and supervisor details when prompted. Should you wish to apply for more than one project, please provide a ranked list of those you are interested in.
For entry criteria and recruitment timeline (including interview dates etc),please visit: www.liverpool.ac.uk/distributed-algorithms-cdt
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