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PhD in Control for Autonomous Vehicles: Investigating the Feasibility of Vehicle Design for Passenger Safety


Project Description

Cranfield University has received full funding from EPSRC for a full-time PhD scholarship in Control for Autonomous Vehicles. We are looking for an exceptional candidate with background in control engineering, computer science, electronic engineering or similar.

Road vehicles are currently designed to help the driver drive safely. The reason why a car pitches down when braking or lean to one side when turning is not an engineering limitation but a way to trick the driver into feeling they are going fast and that is dangerous. Such features make the driving safer at the expenses of the passengers’ comfort (e.g. motion sickness). Autonomous vehicles won’t have a driver and we expect a paradigm shift from driver-centric designs to passenger-centric design. The research question is: will such paradigm shift improve passenger comfort to a level where, in future journeys, occurrences of motion sickness or other discomfort will be eliminated so that the passengers can comfortably engage in productive tasks such as reading?

The overall aim of this PhD research programme is to investigate the feasibility and opportunities arising from a paradigm shift where vehicles will be designed entirely for their passengers’ comfort and safety, rather than for helping the average driver minimising accidents. To achieve this aim, a number of specific objectives have been defined.

• To review the academic and industrial literature at the intersection of vehicle dynamics, ergonomics and human factors (with Aston University)
• To obtain or develop mathematical models of road vehicles, human body kinematics and vestibular system (with Aston and Coventry University)
• To investigate the practicalities of mechanical design aimed at increasing comfort e.g. anti-dive and anti-roll suspensions (with Arrival)
• To design vehicle control strategies aimed at maximising passengers comfort while improving safety and journey times (with Five AI)
• To design accident avoidance control strategies that exploit the full nonlinear dynamics of the vehicle in both longitudinal and later direction, rather than crude bake action, which is the current state of the art (with Five AI)
• To implement the control strategies in the electronic control unit of the test vehicle made available to us (with Delta Motorsport)
• To perform tests to validate algorithms functional safety (with Delta Motorsport)
• To perform a set of trials (limited to what practically achievable) with human subjects
(with Delta Motorsport)
• To produce technical articles on the findings (with the most appropriate partner,
depending on the topic)
• To disseminate the results at technical conferences as well as national and
international events.

Funding Notes

Sponsored by EPSRC, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £15,500 (tax free) plus fees for three years.

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