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University of Bath URSA project: Developing a light-weight proactive lower-limb wearable robot for falls prevention

   Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering

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  Dr Erfan Shahabpoor Ardakani  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the University of Bath URSA competition.


Problem: The long-term care of our aging population currently costs the nation £10bn annually and Falls are responsible for 25% of this cost, often resulting in injury, hospitalisation, and death. Assistive technologies have immense unexploited potential to help aging population to remain mobile and independent for longer. However, current wearable robots for falls prevention often don’t perceive the environment, act only when a fall is already initiated (reactive), and are bulky and impractical for real-life use.

This project intends to develop the first ever practical falls prevention robot with environmental perception and proactive (vs reactive) behaviour.

Developments so far: We have designed and prototyped a novel practical two-degree-of-freedom falls prevention wearable robot, that manipulates footstep locations to prevent impending falls.

Objective: To develop a proactive controller (novel) for the developed falls prevention robot. The emphasis will be on proactive performance, allowing the robot to perceive the environment, to anticipate an impending fall before it happens using a novel probability-based predictive framework, and to act optimally to prevent the fall. Human-in-the-loop testing of the robot will be carried out using the purpose-built specialised facilities in the HEAD laboratory, to test and validate the control models.

The technology developed as part of this project will lay the foundation for designing practical falls prevention robots that can operate in real-life environments. 

Candidate Requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

The successful candidate ideally (but not essential) has robotic/control/mechanical engineering (or equivalent) background. 

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement by February 2023 in order to be considered for funding.

Enquiries and Applications

Informal enquiries are encouraged! Direct these to Dr Erfan Shahabpoor Ardakani - [Email Address Removed]

Please make a formal application should via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Civil Engineering

When completing the form, please identify your application as being for the URSA studentship competition in Section 3 Finance (question 2) and quote the project title and lead supervisor’s name in the ‘Your research interests’ section. 

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements:

  • UK nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Those with Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We value a diverse research environment and strive to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We encourage applications from under-represented groups. In particular, we are welcoming applications from candidates with Refugee, Asylum Seeker, or Humanitarian Protection in the UK to our Doctoral Sanctuary Studentship in Engineering and Design.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

The Disability Service ensures that individuals with disabilities are provided the support that they need. If you state if your application that you have a disability, the Disability Service will contact you as part of this process to discuss your needs.

Keywords: Biomechanics; Control Systems; Dynamics; Mechanical Engineering; Robotics

Funding Notes

Candidates may be considered for a University of Bath (URSA) studentship tenable for 3.5 years. Funding covers tuition fees at the ‘Home’ rate, a stipend (£17,668 p/a in 2022/23) and a £1000/annum training budget.
As URSA studentships only cover the ‘Home’ tuition fee rate, Overseas students are not eligible to apply. Are you an Outstanding Overseas student (e.g. with a UK Masters Distinction or international equivalent) who is interested in this project? If so, please contact the intended supervisor in the first instance, to discuss the possibility of applying for additional funding.

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