Swarm robotics for environmental monitoring

About the project or challenge area

Swarm robotics is a field of research exploring the idea that very large groups (100+) of simple, cheap and replaceable robots could be robust in challenging environments. Such environments could include areas of pollution, for example on a lake with a fertilizer-induced algal bloom, or high radiation (eg. the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster following an earthquake and tsunami). In such cases a swarm of robots could rapidly map an area and locate hotspots of concern much faster than a single robot. Yet swarm robotics so far remains mostly laboratory-bound. This project will contribute toward the engineering of a swarm of robots that can be deployed in the real world, through algorithm design and simulation (software) and/or robot design and build (hardware).

Why choose this opportunity?

You will learn about the science of self-organisation, which is seen in collective animal behaviour such as ant colonies or fish schools. You will learn about the exciting field of swarm robotics, and have an opportunity to work at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, a leading research facility. You will have the opportunity to design swarm robotics controllers and/or design a minimal swarm robot prototype, and build it using production technologies such as 3D printing. You will have the opportunity to investigate appropriate environmental sensor technologies for swarm applications, e.g. for radiation sensing or water phosphate measurement.

About you

You will have a background in engineering or science, for example physics, mathematics, computer science or environmental science.

How to apply

All students can apply using the button below, following the Master's by Research Admissions Statement. Please note that this is an advertised project, which means you only have to complete Section A of the Masters by Research Statement Template (Office document, 68kB).

Before applying, we recommend getting in touch with the project's supervisors. If you are interested in this project and would like to learn more about the research you will be undertaking, please use the contact details on this page.


Your supervisor for this project will be Sabine Hauert, Lecturer in Engineering Maths in the School of Computer Science, Electronic Engineering and Engineering Maths. You can contact her at +44 117 331 5602 or email sabine.hauert@bristol.ac.uk 


Your co-supervisor for this project will be Dr Edmund Hunt, from the Department of Engineering Mathematics. You can contact him at +44 (0) 117 331 4760 or email .

Find out more about your prospective research community

The Natural hazards and disaster risk theme is a vibrant community of researchers who integrate expertise across multiple disciplines to provide the evidence base and solutions to protect lives and livelihoods from natural hazards around the world. Find out more about the Natural hazards and disaster risk theme.

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