Modelling and Performance Analysis of Hexapod Platforms, Mechatronics, Modelling, Mechanicals Engineering, Mathematics – PhD (Funded) Ref: 3219

About the award


Professor C Edwards, University of Exeter

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, in partnership with Renishaw, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students, the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £14,777 for 3.5 years full-time.  The student would be based partly in the Engineering Department at the Streatham Campus in Exeter in Cornwall but also at Renishaw’s premises at Renishaw Plc, Exeter R&D Facility, Lower Trelake Business Park, Tedburn Road, Whitestone, Exeter EX4 2HF.

Engineering, Exeter University, Streatham Campus, Exeter and
Renishaw Plc, Exeter R&D Facility, Lower Trelake Business Park, Tedburn Road, Wjitestone, Exeter

This project seeks to develop a deep understanding of the performance limitations of hexapod motion systems and to propose ways to overcome them. Hexapods (or Stewart platforms) are used in many engineering applications including providing articulation for flight motion simulators, to high precision microscopy, and positioning systems for telescope alignment. A hexapod is a type of parallel robot with six linear actuators providing six degrees of freedom. Control of such a system, via the six individual linear actuators is challenging, since it is the dynamic performance of the device as a whole which is the important metric. This project seeks to develop a deep understanding of current state-of-the-art of hexapod motion systems by extensive modelling of the appropriate subsystems. In particular, based on the modelling, it aims to improve understanding of the factors that limit current performance.

To achieve these goals the PhD project will:
• Develop detailed high fidelity models of the significant electrical and mechanical components;
• Develop an in depth understanding of each component and their limitations;
• Identify appropriate friction models from the literature to capture the observed phenomenon
• Calibrate the models based on data obtained from the real system;
• Undertake a sensitivity analysis of the dependence of the system on its model parameters;
• Identify any fundamental limitations to the hexapod’s overall performance;
• Explore ways of circumventing the limitations by improvements to the electronics/mechanics.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.  For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £14,777 per year tax-free stipend.  Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. 

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in September 2018. The collaboration with the named project partner is subject to contract.  Please note full details of the project partner’s contribution and involvement with the project is still to be confirmed and may change during the course of contract negotiations.  Full details will be confirmed at offer stage.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology – preferably engineering/mathematics. 
If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 
• A detailed 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)
• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to quoting the studentship reference number.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 04 October 2018.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham (date to be confirmed).

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.


Application deadline:4th October 2018
Number of awards:1
Value:£14,777 per year for 3.5 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Support Office +44 (0)1392 722730 / 5150