Research on Bionic UAV Networks for Emergency Communication in Disasters - Computer Science - EPSRC DTP funded PhD Studentship Ref: 2919

About the award

This project is one of a number funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership to commence in September 2018. This project is in direct competition with others for funding; the projects which receive the best applicants will be awarded the funding.

The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,553 per annum for 2017-2018. It will provide research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.

Please note that of the total number of projects within the competition, up to 15 studentships will be filled.

Dr Chunbo Luo

Prof Geyong Min

Streatham Campus

Project Description
The world is under the threat of frequent disasters: recent examples include the devastating Storm Desmond in England (2015/16), China Sichuan Earthquake (2008), and Hurricane Irma and Maria (2017). These types of disasters often compromise the local telecommunication infrastructure, causing days of power and communication disruption that severely affects disaster relief efforts.

Existing emergency communication systems, including satellites, infrastructure based broadcasting, and ground supporting vehicles, are either too specialised and inaccessible to normal users, or dependent on the destructed utility or transportation infrastructure. A new generation of fast deployable and high-performance emergency communication systems should be developed, in order to support effective disaster relief and improve welfare of the people living in vulnerable areas.

Featuring autonomous flying, large coverage, fast speed and low deployable cost, UAVs have exceptional potentials in disaster management [2]. This PhD project aims to develop an emergency communication system based on multiple bionic UAVs cooperation. You will be expected to 

  • propose multiple UAV cooperative networking strategies using evolutionary algorithms that optimise network performance metrics such as throughput and coverage. 
  • research high-performance scene classification algorithms and integrate them with bionic landing systems for UAVs to land safely for sustainable services and emergency response. 

This PhD project will suit a highly motivated student from the Computing or Engineering background. The studentship will provide funding for a stipend which, is currently £14,553 per annum for 2016-2017, research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students. 


[1] BBC (2017) [Online]. Available:

[2] Luo C, Nightingale J, Asemota E, Grecos C. (2015) A UAV-Cloud System for Disaster SensingApplications, IEEE 81st Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC Spring), 2015, Glasgow, 11th - 14th May 2015.

Entry Requirements

You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in Computer Science, Electronic Engineering or Robotics. Experience in UAVs, Wireless Networks or Data Science is desirable.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the English language requirements and provide proof of proficiency. Click here for more information and a list of acceptable alternative tests.

The majority of the studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes.  If you have not resided in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, you are not eligible for a maintenance allowance so you would need an alternative source of funding for living costs. To be eligible for fees-only funding you must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU.  For information on EPSRC residency criteria click here.

Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are NOT eligible for funding. International students interested in studying at the University of Exeter should search our funding database for alternative options.


Application deadline:10th January 2018
Value:3.5 year studentship: UK/EU tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at current Research Council rate. Current rate of £14,553 per year.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Doctoral

How to apply

You will be required to upload the following documents:
•       CV
•       Letter of application outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to
        undertake the project.
•       Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained.  This should be an interim
        transcript if you are still studying.
•       If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your current
        proficiency in English.  For further details of the University’s English language requirements please see

The closing date for applications is midnight (GMT) on Wednesday 10 January 2018.  Interviews will be held at the University of Exeter in late February 2018.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email:
Project-specific queries should be directed to the supervisor.

During the application process, the University may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates.  These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

• the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
• administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.