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Research Associate in the Development of an Adaptable Semi-autonomous Underwater Decommissioning Sample Retrieval Robot

Salary:   £28,331 to £32,817
Closing Date:   Monday 07 December 2020
Interview Date:   To be confirmed
Reference:  A3111

Applications are invited for a Research Associate post in the Engineering Department at Lancaster University. This project is funded by the EPSRC UK/Japan civil nuclear research programme and is in partnership with the National Maritime Research Institute (NMRI), the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), both in Japan, and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). The aim of the project is to develop a semi-autonomous ROV-based sample retrieval robot for use within the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant and other submerged nuclear decommissioning sites worldwide.

The first stage of this project will involve the design and production of a waterproof 6 DoF robotic manipulator with collaborative end effectors comprised of a cutting tool, such as an underwater hydraulic grinder, and a bespoke complimentary sample support and retrieval tool. To enable semi-autonomous local control of the end effectors, position and orientation sensors will be incorporated into the end effectors, as well as torque and position sensors into the joints. The second stage of the project will involve integrating this manipulator onto a ROV and developing and implementing a control algorithm based on local VSLAM that compensates for movement of the ROV, hydrodynamic forces on the manipulator and force feedback from the end effectors. Global localisation and decision-making processes will be supported by sonar and radiological mapping data determined by systems developed by the Japanese teams. This project will involve a significant amount of collaboration between the UK and Japanese teams with testing of the robotic system being conducted in both countries.

To be considered for this role, you should possess a good degree in either Mechatronic, Mechanical, Electronic Engineering or an equivalent subject. You must also have an EngD or PhD in a field relevant to robotics or control. Experience of mechatronic design is essential along with knowledge of electronics in general. Experience of control algorithm implementation is also greatly beneficial.

You will join us on an indefinite contract however, the role remains contingent on external funding which, at this time is for 18 months.

Enquiries should be made to Dr David Cheneler, Engineering Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YW, UK; E-mail:

We welcome applications from people in all diversity groups.

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