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PhD in Direct Fibre Optic Shape Sensing for Robotics

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Tom Charrett
    Prof R P Tatam
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Outline of area the project relates to:
As part of a wider program of ongoing research at Cranfield into the development of novel instrumentation for manufacturing robotics, this studentship will investigate the application of Direct Fibre Optic Shape Sensing (DFOSS) in robotics. In current industrial robotics the limited resolution and backlash in joint angle encoders limits the achievable positioning performance. This project will seek to develop a new Fibre Optic Shape Sensing technique that will allow direct interferometric measurements of the robot pose. Additionally, this approach will offer exciting new positioning capabilities for direct shape measurement in flexible, snake-like continuum robots used for operation in confined spaces, at lower cost and higher performance, than existing techniques.

Project Focus/Aim:
This project will focus on the construction and demonstration of DFOSS instrumentation for application both as a retro-fitted angle encoder to provide high-bandwidth, high-sensitivity robot joint angle measurements on industrial robots, and for application to snake-like continuum robotics that are important for a range of application areas in confined spaces such as Nuclear energy. This will include the development of the signal processing system, modelling, analysis and fabrication of 3D printed fibre support structures, and application trials.

Cranfield overview and Sponsor Information/Background:
This is an EPSRC/Cranfield University sponsored position in the Centre for Engineering Photonics at Cranfield University. The Centre for Engineering Photonics is an internationally leading optical sensing and instrumentation research centre. The department’s research portfolio is broad, encompassing fibre optic sensors, optical flow measurement instrumentation, speckle interferometry, spectroscopic gas detection and medical imaging. The emphasis of our activities lies in the development of instrumentation to tackle engineering measurement problems, while offering scope for more speculative, blue sky research. Many of our students complete a PhD following a period (or even a career) in industry and we welcome the additional experience that this brings

Expected impact/results of research project:
This is a fundamental instrumentation research project into a potentially transformative technology with potential applications across a wide range of robotic applications from manufacturing to robotic surgery and the nuclear industry. The expected output will be a demonstrator system to allow future applications to be explored both within the duration of the PhD and afterwards.

Unique Selling Points of project:
There is potential for the instrument constructed to be trialled on industrial robots via our internal and external collaborators. Additionally, the studentship also offers funding to attend and present at a national and international conference as well as the possibility to attend an additional training course/summer school in signal processing techniques.

What will the student gain from experience:
Full training will be provided in photonics techniques, optical fibre handling and signal processing, and additionally all students are encouraged to complete a programme of courses in transferrable skills, making them highly sought after by employers. Our students go on to successful careers in the fields of their choice, often in research or development roles in industry, government funded establishments and universities.

Funding Notes

To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK national. We require that applicants are under no restrictions regarding how long they can stay in the UK i.e. have no visa restrictions or applicant has “settled status” and has been “ordinarily resident” in the UK for 3 years prior to start of studies and has not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals).



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