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Robotics for carbon-neutral fusion-energy – University of Manchester & RACE @ UKAEA

Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering

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Prof G Herrmann Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments, was founded in 2014 as part of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to create robots operated in some of the most challenging environments. The UKAEA is part of an international set of research institutions working on the realisation of nuclear fusion as carbon-neutral energy source. The UKAEA houses the JET fusion reactor. It serves as a test base for the ITER, DEMO and UK’s own future STEP reactor. These reactors require efficient robotic servicing to guarantee safety and to maximise efficiency. Such reactors are built to be run without direct human intervention, at best through sophisticated tele-operation. Such robots require some of the most advanced robust, nonlinear controllers to cope with the extreme problem of load, temperature and radiation. The relevant tele-operation systems acting at high level need to be able to take possible human errors of the operator teams into account, developing safe information, decision and control strategies.

A PhD studentship is available to carry out work on one of the two mentioned aspects
a) low-level control for robotic systems challenged by significant, flexible nonlinearities and large parametric changes
b) tele-operation and human-robot interaction to achieve operator prediction and improved safety through new forms of shared control between the operator and the tele-robotic system. Here machine learning and human-robot approaches in combination with recent decision and control techniques are to be exploited.
The candidate will be working in the group of Professor Herrmann building on the expertise of intelligent control and estimation methods for robotic control and human robot interaction.
The PhD-researcher will be embedded into the growing robotics group at the University of Manchester of more than 30 researchers, created through a set of significant UKRI/EPSRC grants (e.g. This is complemented by the knowledge of about 30 researchers of one of UK’s oldest and most established research groups in control. Close collaboration with RACE is key.

Funding Notes

This is a fully funded Studentship (fees and stipend), subject to EPSRC requirements, for eligibility see: Due to funding restrictions, the full studentship is only available to students from the UK or EU who have been normally resident in the UK for at least 3 years. The Studentship is available for 3.5 years, covering full tuition fees and a stipend


Applicants should be educated to at least 1st Class/2:1 (or UK equivalent) BEng (Hons) level and will have a strong numerate, typically 1st, degree in engineering (electrical/electronic), mechanical engineering or mechatronics. The applicants should ideally have a background in/knowledge in modern intelligent control methods, robotics and interests in one of the mentioned problems. Demonstrable experimental experience is to a great advantage.

For more information on existing research in this area at Manchester please contact:
Professor Guido Herrmann at

How to apply:
If you wish to apply, please email a covering letter, full Curriculum Vitae and the names and contact details of at least two academic referees to Ms Marie B Davies:
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