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PhD: Using Bioinspiration and Body’s Morphology to Improve the Adaptability of Robots to the Environment

   Department of Mechanical Engineering

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  Dr Sara Abad-Guaman  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Fully funded (UK, EU or international) PhD studentship - UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering

Due to the increasing global food demand, increasing natural and man-made disasters, and the significant amount of repetitive and hazardous tasks performed by humans, there is an increasing demand for robots for outdoor applications such as monitoring, rescue, farming, and space exploration. Nevertheless, there is a high variability of the environmental conditions and terrain type in tasks such as monitoring natural habitats, searching for victims after disasters, monitoring and removing weeds, monitoring nuclear facilities, and so on. This high variability limits the applicability of robotics for these tasks. Computing technologies and AI research have developed significantly in the last decades to improve the adaptability of robots to these changing conditions. Recent research in bioinspired robotics shows that the passive dynamics of the robot’s body and the body-environment interaction can also improve the robot’s adaptability to terrain conditions. Therefore, further development regarding the embodiment of robots is critical for achieving higher adaptability to environmental conditions.

Animals and plants show remarkable adaptability to their environment. Consequently, using a bioinspired approach, the candidate will investigate to what extent the body dynamics can contribute to the robot's adaptability to the environment. To achieve this aim, the candidate will use a multidisciplinary approach. The candidate is expected to work jointly with collaborators from other areas such as biologists, veterinarians, and other relevant areas. During this project, the candidate will conduct the research employing a range of advanced computational, design and experimental approaches.

The position also offers opportunities to engage in teaching assistant activities and work with researchers from the robotics lab in the department. As a PhD student at UCL, the candidate will benefit from training in high-impact research. The candidate will be encouraged to publish work in leading journals and present findings at national/international conferences.

Person specification

  • Applicants are preferred to have first-class undergraduate and master’s degrees (or equivalent) in Mechanical Engineering or a related discipline with interest in bioinspired robotics, simulation/mathematical modelling, experimental evaluation and data analysis.
  • Excellent organizational, interpersonal and communication skills, along with a stated interest in interdisciplinary research and will to learn, are essential.
  • Experience in computer programming and strong knowledge in solid mechanics and design would be essential.
  • Background in microcontrollers’ programming, electronics, and MATLAB is desirable.
  • Fluency and clarity in spoken English as well as good written English in accordance with UCL English requirements (TOEFL>92 or IELTS>6.5).


The position is open to UK, EU and International students.

Please refer to the following website for full eligibility criteria: Mechanical Engineering MPhil/PhD

How to apply

Eligible applicants should first contact Dr Sara Adela Abad G ([Email Address Removed]). Please enclose the following documents:

  • A maximum two-page research proposal that notes the selected research topic, demonstrates an understanding of the background to the area and outlines the questions that you are interested in researching.
  • Two-pages curriculum vitae (including contact details of two referees).
  • Cover letter (one page) explaining why the candidate is interested in applying for this studentship.

After discussing the project with Dr Abad, eligible applicants should also submit a formal PhD application via the UCL website.

The supervisory team will arrange interviews for short-listed candidates.

Funding Notes

Fully funded (UK, EU or international) PhD studentship
Project start date: 01 March 2023 onwards
Project duration: 4 years
Studentship funding: full tuition fees and maintenance stipend (currently £19,668/year)

Open days

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