Shared Autonomy for Kinesthetic Tools

Position filled

Reducing Cognitive Load and Fatigue through Impedance Modulation

One fully funded 4-year industry sponsored studentship is available at The University of Edinburgh starting September 2016. Sponsorship will be provided by Costain. Costain is recognised as one of the UK’s leading engineering solutions providers, delivering integrated consulting, project delivery and operations and maintenance services to major blue-chip customers in targeted market sectors.

Many repetitive industrial tasks require significant cognitive load which results in operator fatigue and in turn can become dangerous. The development of robotic sensing technology and compliant feedback technology, will allow semi-autonomous robotics systems to improve this type of work flow. This proposal for a 4 year PhD project aims to explore methods in which a robotic system with shared autonomy can contribute to the operation of a Kinesthetic tool (such as a piece of machinery) and in doing so reduce the cognitive load and fatigue of the human operator.

Multimodal sensing (such as LIDAR and active/stereo cameras) will be employed to create real-time maps of the robotic equipment's operation space so as to inform localization and to aid alignment with existing architectural models and drawings as well as to track in situ operation of a representative industrial task.

The student will explore appropriate methods for the feedback of this information to a shared autonomy system by modifying the impedance of a kinesthetically operated device so as the match the overall task goals with reduced operator burden. Over the course of the studentship, demonstrations will be scaled from a prototype sensor pack and fixed anthropomorphic arm to a Husky bimanual paltform and finally to a full size humanoid robot (NASA Valkyrie) with integrated onboard, multimodal sensing and compliant manipulation capabilities.

Applicants should have, or expect to obtain one of the following qualifications:

BSc/MSc Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering or Electrical/Electronic Engineering (or equivalent) 1st/70% average or above.

Other engineering, science or mathematical backgrounds studied to a suitably qualified level may also be considered. Excellent progranming skills and hands on experience with robotic systems is desirable.

This is a fully funded 4-year Home RAS CDT Scholarship covering Home fees and stipend (£14,057 for 2015/16). This project is only valid for UK students due to the nature of the funding.

As this is an EPSRC iCASE (industrial CASE studentship), over the course of the four years, the student will be required to spend at least 3 months at the company partners premise. Additional funds over and above the studentship to support this exchange and appropriate equipment costs will be provided by the company.

For more details, contact: Professor Sethu Vijayakumar (


Studentship type: 
Industry sponsored studentship
£14 057.00
Date posted: 
Closing date: 

Position filled

How to apply

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Remember to include the name of this project and sponsor in your application form.