PhD opportunity: Design and control of variable-stiffness-actuators for bipedal locomotion

Director of studies: Dr Swen E Gaudl

2nd supervisor: Dr Martin Stoelen

3rd supervisor: Dr Phil Culverhouse

Applications are invited for a three-year MPhil/PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 October 2019.

Project description

We call for research into the application of variable stiffness actuators towards bipedal locomotion. Soft robotics, the application of various methods for creating compliant robots is a fast-growing area of research, one that potentially offers great improvements to robotics in general but industrial manufacturing as well as healthcare and rehabilitation as key topics in the EPSRC funding agenda. Variable stiffness actuators (VSAs) and adjustable compliant actuators are seeing potential applications in wearable robotics, prosthetics, co-located manufacturing and walking robots. These actuators feature elastic elements, which can store and release energy, minimise large forces due to shocks, and safely interact with people, when employed to create soft-bodied robots. The student would lay the groundwork for a vast area of further research as well as the commercial exploitation of the technology such as developing low cost VSA prosthetic legs and rehabilitation devices for which there is clear market, and external funding opportunities.


Applicants should have (at least) a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification.


The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £15,009 per annum.

Applicants normally required to cover overseas fees will have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates (approximately £12,285 per annum).

How to apply

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Swen E Gaudl. However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

General information about applying for a research degree at the University of Plymouth.

You can apply via the online application form and selecting ‘Apply’.

Please mark it FAO Carole Watson and clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics.

For more information on the admissions process contact Carole Watson.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 31 May 2019. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview mid June. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by 30 June 2019 should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.