Postgraduate research project opportunities

Projects are listed by broad research area. Supervisors will be happy to provide further information.

Frequently, new projects become available, and this list is only an indication of the sort of projects which might be available. It is often possible to create a new project to suit your interests. Please discuss research projects with the staff working in your areas of interest.

Acoustics and Vibrations

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Structural control and mitigation. Earthquakes and other large disturbances cause a significant and damaging structural dynamic response, often nonlinear in nature. The damage can be substantial at 10-20% of GDP for a large event. The damage to society as jobs are lost when business don’t reopen fully due to structural damage to premises is significant and can last 10-30 years before abating in a given region. Finally, the damage to lifelines, like bridges and energy distribution, can result in making recovery more difficult and further loss of lives or injury.

This project requires students interested in multi-disciplinary research in Mechanical, Civil and Electrical Engineering, taking the useful parts of dynamics and finite element analysis, as well as design and control systems to create new devices and systems to mitigate dynamic response of structures. It is undertaken with our Dept of Civil Engineering and other oversease collaborators. There are also analytical and theoretical studies associated with this topic.

Overall, this project area is about structural dynamics and control systems development, and the use of these and analytical methods to analyse these problems and design creative solutions.

Funding arrangements

Funding is always being pursued.

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters

Project Description

Structural health monitoring is the examination of structures for damage by examining changes in their vibration response to inputs from expected values. This research area is very important for areas, such as New Zealand, that are subject to earthquakes and other damaging excitations. This technique is also heavily employed in the aircraft and manufacturing equipment industries to test for damage before it is visible.

More specifically, given one or more sensors, vibrations resulting from known or random inputs may be analysed to determine the change in model parameters. Adaptive digital filtering techniques are widely used in digital telecommunications and represent a potential means of dealing with this problem in a fashion that is far more easily implemented in noisy, real-time environments than current methods. While the central focus will be on benchmark problems put forward by Civil Engineering Societies the methods developed are expected to generalize to wider ranges of problems.

This project requires students interested in multi-disciplinary research in Mechanical, Civil and Electrical Engineering, taking the useful parts of approaches to similar problems to develop a novel solution using elements from each field as necessary. The approach used is expected to be a mixture of analytical and experimental culminating in trials on a hardware benchmark problem created by ASCE. This research will occur in conjunction with faculty in the Department of Civil Engineering at Texas AandM University and any interested faculty in the Electrical and Civil Engineering Departments at UC.

Funding arrangements

Funding is always being pursued.

Supervisor

Stefanie Gutschmidt

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Micro-electromechanical arrays offer a tangible solution to high-speed, precision information and manipulation technologies such as scanning probe microscopy and nano-lithography. However, the associated multi-physics coupling and observed nonlinear dynamic behaviour are currently not understood and thus prevents successful implementation of an otherwise promising solution. Ongoing collaborative efforts focus on the development of a fundamental understanding of the underlying nonlinear dynamics and coupling phenomena of an array of multi-physics cantilevers. Our theoretical approach is based on nonlinear classical continuum mechanics in combination with numerical simulations and experimental investigations. With these new fundamental insights, underlying dynamic processes can be predicted and controlled, enabling reliable operation of future information and manipulation array technologies.

Funding arrangements

Funding is always being pursued.

Supervisor

Stefanie Gutschmidt

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

There is a growing need among biologists to precisely monitor the dynamic phenomena on extremely soft living cells like mammalian cells in their native environments i.e. liquids. Most of the biological events are faster than the time it takes to capture a full frame. Hence, it is very demanding to track the real-time motion of tiny cells at faster rates using a new non-contact AFM array technology. The operation mode is largely characterized by collective and nonlinear effects (geometric, material, tip-sample interactions and fluid damping). Collective array dynamics in air has been theoretically and experimentally studied. But results will significantly vary when the sample is imaged in its native environment i.e. liquids. This project aims at explaining the underlying physics of a non-contact AFM scan process in fluid with the help of suitable analytical models, analysis and experimental investigations.

Funding arrangements

Funding is always being pursued.

Supervisor

John Pearse

Various Acoustics Research Themes

The following post-graduate research projects are available:

  • Air flow, noise and temperature variations in vineyards using frost fans – an experimental and modelling project being run in conjunction with a Blenheim based business.
  • Sound transmission through walls – an experimental project being run in conjunction with and industrial partner.
  • Acoustics of home theatres – an experimental and modeling project being run in conjunction with a local acoustic business.
  • Industrial noise control – an experimental Masters project involving product development in conjunction with a local successful manufacturing business; this project provides wide exposure to sound absorption, sound transmission and active noise control.
  • Building acoustics - sound transmission through panel systems.
  • Aeroacoustics - investigation of aerofoil trailing edge noise.

Funding arrangements

Funding available for suitable students.

Biomedical

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Diabetes is a widespread problem reaching epidemic proportions in New Zealand and the world in general. This project looks at a variety of aspects of automating the monitoring and dosing of insulin for Type I diabetics. Specific aspects of this project will address issues of advanced modelling and adaptive control design for the automation of insulin infusion for diabetics.

The project is expected to entail extending current research in this area to employ more sophisticated models that account for greater physiological variation and effects than the current models. More adaptive and model based methods will be examined, including proofs of stability and convergence for existing and developed control methods. It is of particular interest to determine whether there is a truly "optimal" control design method for this non-linear control problem. The project will be scaled to account for the type of degree the student is interested in pursuing.

The project will be require cooperation between the student and the following diverse team of personnel: The Lipids and Diabetes Research Group at Christchurch Hospital and the UoC Applied Maths Group. Interested students have the opportunity to engage in research in a cutting edge area linking silicon technology and physiological processes as well as the opportunity to work developing technology that could significantly impact the quality of life for millions.

Field of Study

New field of study.

Funding arrangements

Funding is being pursued with the HRC and Insulin Pump Companies but has not yet materialized.

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Mechanical ventilation is a commonly applied therapy in critical care to assist breathing and ameliorate the impact of diseases such as ARDS and SARS. This project addresses the growing need for non- or semi- invasive methods of optimising the pressures and other settings for mechnical ventilation - particularly in an adaptive, feedback controlled fashion that accounts for patient variation and changes in patient condition.

Current methods are based on trial and error, and the application of medical experience and intuition - the so-called "art of medicine". The result is extremely variable ventilation protocols that impact the effectiveness of treatment. What we will do in this research is develop simple, minimal models of lung dynamics that include the impact of disease - most notable acute respiratory distress syndromes (ARDS) such as SARS and pneumonia. These dynamic models will allow us to capture a variety of patient conditions. From these results we will determine what to measure and how best to optimise ventilation using that measurement. Clinical trials on critical care subjects will follow successful research results.

The project will require cooperation between the student and the Department of Intensive Care Medicine at Christchurch Hospital, and Dr. Geoffrey M Shaw in particular. Interested students have the opportunity to engage in research in a cutting edge area linking mechanical engineering, dynamic system modelling, and physiological processes -- better known as Biomedical Engineering -- as well as the opportunity to work developing technology that can significantly impact the prospects for millions of patients a year.

Field of Study

Biomedical or Bio-Engineering.

Funding arrangements

Funding is being pursued with the HRC and a variety of commercial ventures but has not yet materialized.

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters

Project Description

Intensive care unit (ICU) patients are often intubated to help them breathe, and sedated to minimize pain and agitation from the intubation as well as other injuries. Patients that are not sedated enough often become agitated and try to remove the breathing tube causing distress and anxiety that are difficult to control without unnecessary extra sedation.

The goal of this project is twofold

  • Create a sensor array to measure patient motion with existing sensor technology
  • Correlate and quantify patient motion to existing qualitative agitation scales

The basic premise of this project is that patient motion, and other metrics, are directly correlated to patient agitation. Current measures of patient agitation are qualitative relying on medical staff to make periodic, subjective judgements. The application of modern sensor and signal processing technology presents the opportunity to gather more data and apply it to create a qualitative, far more precise, determination of patient agitation. Success would enable better sedation-agitation modelling as well as a more quantified approach to controlling sedation processes.

This project is being run in conjunction with Dr. Geoff Shaw, M.D. a research anaesthesiologist with the Christchurch Hospital and the Otago School of Medicine. Students who take this multidisciplinary project will be expected to spend significant time understanding the medical systems involved and working in conjunction with Dr. Shaw and medical staff as well as with Dr. Chase on the technology side. This research represents an entirely new area of research for an ambitious Post-Grad interested in leading edge biomedical research with significant human impact.

Field of Study

New field of study

Funding arrangements

Funding is being developed however there is currently none available.

Supervisor

Geoff Chase and Dr Geoffrey Shaw (Otago Med. - Chch)

Degree

PhD

Project Description

Intensive care unit (ICU) patients are often intubated to help them breathe, and sedated to minimize pain and agitation from the intubation as well as other injuries. Patients that are not sedated enough often become agitated and try to remove the breathing tube causing distress and anxiety that are difficult to control without extra sedation. Conversely, over, or heavily, sedated patients take significantly longer returning to a conscious state, adding significant cost and time to their hospital stay as well as additional risk due to over sedation.

The primary problem is twofold

  • Lack of an adequate model relating agitation and sedation
  • Inability of shrinking nursing staffs to consistently understand, dose and treat sedated patients with the minimum necessary sedation, i.e. lack of automatic control.

This project looks at addressing these two problems. The first part is to create a quantifiable sedation-agitation model suitable to covering the majority of patient behaviours in terms of relating sedative concentration to qualitative level of sedation and a quantified level of measured agitation. The second part examines applying control systems technology to this system to obtain more robust and consistent results, and to achieve more minimal levels of sedation to minimize ICU stays and healthcare cost.

This project is being run in conjunction with Dr. Geoff Shaw, M.D. a research anaesthesiologist with the Christchurch Hospital and the Otago School of Medicine. Students who take this multidisciplinary project will be expected to spend significant time understanding the medical systems involved and working in conjunction with Dr. Shaw and medical staff as well as with Dr. Chase on the technology side. This research represents an entirely new area of research for an ambitious Post-Grad interested in leading edge biomedical research with significant human impact.

Field of Study

New field of study

Funding arrangements

Funding is being developed but currently not available

Supervisor

Shayne Gooch

Degree

PhD

Project Description

People with disabilities are often required to work at or near their physical limits in performing daily activities. Hence, subtle improvements to the design of assistive devices can have life changing consequences. The purpose of this research is to better characterise the strength of people with disabilities to enable improvements in the design of assistive devices.

In an earlier study at the University of Canterbury, the strength characteristics of people with normal motor and sensory control were characterised by mapping forward push strength in the sagittal plane. The data obtained indicates that particular strength maps will be obtained for particular groups of people e.g. people with normal strength characteristics will have one characteristic map and people with particular disabilities will have distinctively different maps.

The purpose of this project is to:

  • Establish a means for characterising, in a three dimensional space, the strength of a person in the seated position;
  • Determine whether or not there are distinct strength characteristics for people with disabilities.

Tasks are likely to include:

  • The development of a procedures for measuring human strength while seated
  • Design a test rig for measuring upper body strength
  • Obtain ethics approval ·Measure human strength
  • Establish a means for graphically representing human strength in a 3D space
  • Evolve a methodology for predicting human strength characteristics for people with disabilities based on a limited number of measurements

Funding Arrangements

Funding is being pursued in collaboration with Industrial Research Limited. A scholarship will be available for a suitable student.

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

The last 20 years of research have been about "silicon". The next 20 will be about linking silicon technology to controlling or enhancing physiological function in the human body. To accomplish this task accurate models that capture the essential dynamics of human physiology must be created. This research therefore requires someone interested in both analytical modelling as well as experimental or clinical validation. These models will also be used for creating the fundamental control theory necessary to create new medical therapies and devices to improve patient care quality and decrease its cost to society.

Current research is primarily focused on areas where critical care patients can make the most use. This focus ensures that the outcomes have large or significant potential usage in the medical field. Particular areas of interest include modelling the dynamics associated with

  • Cerebral Blood Flow - to minimise the incidence of stroke in surgery or other procedures
  • Kidney Function and Dialysis Kinetics - to minimise the cost of treatment and its side effects
  • Disease Kinetics in Lung Injury - to predict and control the spread of lung damaging diseases such as SARS in the body
  • Cardiovascular Mechanics - to better diagnose and treat cardiac critical care patients.

Clinical trials on critical care subjects would follow successful research results to verify the models and prove any control systems concepts applied.

These projects require cooperation between the student and the Department of Intensive Care Medicine at Christchurch Hospital, and Dr. Geoffrey M Shaw in particular. Interested students have the opportunity to engage in research in a cutting edge area linking mechanical engineering, dynamic system modelling, and physiological processes - better known as Biomedical Engineering - as well as the opportunity to work developing technology that can significantly impact the prospects for millions of patients a year.

Field of Study

Biomedical or Bio- Engineering.

Funding arrangements

Funding is being pursued with the HRC and a variety of commercial ventures but has not yet materialized.

Supervisor

Dr. Yilei Zhang

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Brain is one of the most complex systems in the universe and related to all aspects of human beings, such as emotion, perception, intelligence, etc. Additive manufacture (3D printing) and electrospinning are powerful technologies with significant applications in developing in vitro brain model, which allows us to systematically control and study brain functions, particularly neural networks. It has been shown that in vitro brain model could be linked with brain diseases and disorders, for example, we have cultured in vitro brain model for Alzheimer’s disease. The performance of the in vitro brain model is significantly influenced by the structural design, cellular microenvironment as well as the cell-material interactions. The objectives of this project are to develop novel technologies for 3D biofunctional in vitro brain model. Students with experience in bioprinting, electrospinning, laser, microfluidics, biotechnology, instrumentation, etc. are welcome to apply.

Field of Study

Biomedical or Bio- Engineering

Funding Arrangements

Funding is being pursued with the HRC and a variety of commercial ventures but has not yet materialized.

Design

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

The last 20 years of research have been about "silicon". The next 20 will be about linking silicon technology to controlling or enhancing physiological function in the human body. To accomplish this task accurate models that capture the essential dynamics of human physiology must be created. This research therefore requires someone interested in both analytical modelling as well as experimental or clinical validation. These models will also be used for creating the fundamental control theory necessary to create new medical therapies and devices to improve patient care quality and decrease its cost to society.

Current research is primarily focused on areas where critical care patients can make the most use. This focus ensures that the outcomes have large or significant potential usage in the medical field. Particular areas of interest include modelling the dynamics associated with

  • Cerebral Blood Flow - to minimise the incidence of stroke in surgery or other procedures
  • Kidney Function and Dialysis Kinetics - to minimise the cost of treatment and its side effects
  • Disease Kinetics in Lung Injury - to predict and control the spread of lung damaging diseases such as SARS in the body
  • Cardiovascular Mechanics - to better diagnose and treat cardiac critical care patients.

Clinical trials on critical care subjects would follow successful research results to verify the models and prove any control systems concepts applied.

These projects require cooperation between the student and the Department of Intensive Care Medicine at Christchurch Hospital, and Dr. Geoffrey M Shaw in particular. Interested students have the opportunity to engage in research in a cutting edge area linking mechanical engineering, dynamic system modelling, and physiological processes - better known as Biomedical Engineering - as well as the opportunity to work developing technology that can significantly impact the prospects for millions of patients a year.

Field of Study

Biomedical or Bio- Engineering.

Funding arrangements

Funding is being pursued with the HRC and a variety of commercial ventures but has not yet materialized.

Supervisor

Stefanie Gutschmidt

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Forestry is a major export industry, but workers face some of the highest risks of injury and fatality. To provide a long-term solution we have designed, built and developed a tree-traversing robot that could move through a plantation forest by gripping trees rather than the usual wheeled vehicles that also cause soil damage. The fully-functional, remote-controlled tree-traversing robot (1/4-scale prototype) is the first of its kind in the world. The trunk-gripping mechanism allows the robot to rotate around the tree and to accurately grasp any other trunk within its maximum reach in any direction. The prototype includes actuator control translated into joy-stick operation by the forester. In a separate research attempt an innovative cutting mechanism was designed, built and added onto the existing robot. When the current ¼-scale design is scaled up to full size the resultant machine will be heavy.  Aim of this work is to develop and to produce a light weight machine which retains the ability to cut down standing Pinus radiata trees and keep the operator at a safe distance from the tree. Therefore the project’s focus is optimising the machine

Funding arrangements

Funding is always being pursued.

Energy and Thermodynamics

Fluid Dynamics

Supervisor

Stefanie Gutschmidt

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

There is a growing need among biologists to precisely monitor the dynamic phenomena on extremely soft living cells like mammalian cells in their native environments i.e. liquids. Most of the biological events are faster than the time it takes to capture a full frame. Hence, it is very demanding to track the real-time motion of tiny cells at faster rates using a new non-contact AFM array technology. The operation mode is largely characterized by collective and nonlinear effects (geometric, material, tip-sample interactions and fluid damping). Collective array dynamics in air has been theoretically and experimentally studied. But results will significantly vary when the sample is imaged in its native environment i.e. liquids. This project aims at explaining the underlying physics of a non-contact AFM scan process in fluid with the help of suitable analytical models, analysis and experimental investigations.

Funding arrangements

Funding is always being pursued.

Degree

PhD

Supervisors

Dr Mathieu Sellier, Dr Volker Nock (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Project description

Digital microfluidic devices play an ever increasing role in nano- and biotechnologies. These rely on the micromanipulation of discrete droplets which are transported, stored, mixed, reacted, or analyzed in a discrete manner. One of the key challenges is to transport them in an efficient and reliable way. This research proposes to investigate experimentally and numerically a previously unexplored propulsion mechanism which relies on the induction of a surface tension gradient in the droplet by mixing droplets of different substances having a large surface tension contrast. We have recently proven the feasibility of this new mechanism in "proof of concept" experiment.

One of the key advantage of this new droplet propulsion mechanism is that it does not rely on high-tech, high-cost micro-fabrication techniques. The experiment raised a number of fundamental questions such as what is the role of the thin film connecting both droplets? What is the role of the surrounding atmosphere in the generation of the surface energy gradient? Can the coalescence enhance fluid mixing, a difficult task in microfluidic applications? The project aims to understand the underlying physics of this phenomenon and assess its potential in engineering applications. 

Relevant literature

Sellier, M., Nock, V. and Verdier, C. (2011) Self-propelling coalescing droplets. Int. J. Multiphase Flow, 37, 462-468.

Funding available

(fees and living expenses)

Supervisors

Dr Mathieu Sellier

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Free surface flows occur in wide range of context. They arise, for example, in the form of water droplets when we take a shower, in the form of a thin liquid film when we apply a paint layer on a wall. They are also prevalent in geophysics where they appear as river or glacier flows to name a few. The recent development of numerical simulation tools has tremendously expanded our understanding of such flows but to date the focus has mostly been on "what if" scenarios. For example, how does the free surface of a river respond to an increase of the flow rate? How does the free surface of a glacier respond to bedrock variations? This viewpoint, referred to as the direct problem, consists in finding the observable consequences of a set of causes and conditions. The proposed research focuses on the inverse problem for which the causes and conditions of the flow are reconstructed from the knowledge of observable consequences. In this new paradigm, the free surface is a "signature" of the flow which can be related to unknown flow quantities. The proposed research will develop a theoretical framework and numerical tools to solve such inverse problems. More specifically, the research program will enable the reconstruction of the bedrock profile from free surface data in geophysical flows such as river or glacier flows. It will allow the reconstruction of the surface tension distribution in Marangoni driven flows, i.e. flows driven by surface tension gradients, thereby shedding light on phenomena such as the formation of a coffee stain or the transport of surface active agent (surfactant) at interfaces. Finally, the research program will pave the way to a new methodology to characterize the rheology of fluids based on the free surface response to prescribed perturbations.

Relevant literature

Gessese, A.F., Sellier, M., Van Houten, E. And Smart, G. (2011) Reconstruction of river bed topography from free surface data using a direct numerical approach in one-dimensional shallow water flow. Inverse Problems, 27, 025001.

Funding

self-funded or through University scholarship. Funding is sought from the Royal Society.

Supervisors

Dr Mathieu Sellier, Prof XiaoQi Chen

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Using numerical simulation to compute the dynamics of flows or the response of structures to external loads is nowadays routine practice in engineering and science. The development of sophisticated numerical techniques has allowed substantial progress in the solution of direct problems which consists in finding the effects of a set of causes. For example, how are the aerodynamics coefficients of a body immersed in a flow affected by its shape? We are now in a position to tackle more challenging problems where the effect is known (or desired) and the cause is sought. For example, an engineer might want to find the shape of a body which maximizes its lift, reduces its drag, or prevent flow separation. Such problems are called optimal shape design problems and they are particularly difficult. Typically, addressing such problems first involves the definition of an objective function which measures the performance of the current shape and constraints. This objective function may, for example, be the total lift generated by the body and the constraint may be the area of the cross section. The evaluation of the objective function typically requires a numerical simulation using Computational Fluid Dynamics. The next steps involve parameterizing the body shape and evaluating the sensitivities. The sensitivities give a measure of how the objective function varies with elementary variations of the body shape. This step is particularly difficult as an explicit relationship between the body shape and the objective function is usually unavailable. Once the sensitivities are known, it is possible to infer a new estimate of the shape closer to the optimal solution. The process is repeated iteratively until a extremum in the objective function is obtained.  A difficulty associated with this process relates to the fact that after every iteration in the optimization process, a new shape is generated. Consequently, a new mesh needs to be generated in order to compute the objective function. Also, there is no explicit relationship between the objective function and the body shape. In order to address these issues we propose to use the Boundary Element technique to discretize the problem and compute the objective function. The main feature of the boundary element technique is that only the contour of the body is discretized instead of the entire flow domain. This is a significant advantage because the required remeshing after each iteration of the optimization procedure is considerably simplified. Also, the Boundary Element technique opens up the prospect of finding an explicit expression for the sensitivity thereby considerably enhancing the convergence. The particular problem we propose to focus on relates to the optimal design a Non-Contact Adhesion Pad (NCAP) for robotic pick-and-place applications, often referred to as Bernoulli grippers. Such a pad recently developed at the University of Canterbury has recently been shown to hold great promise, see Reference 1.

Relevant literature

[1] Journee, M., Chen, X., Robertson, J., Jermy, M. and Sellier, M. “An investigation into improved non-contact adhesion mechanism for wall climbing robotic application” in Proceedings of the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.        

Funding

self-funded or through University scholarship.

Supervisors

Dr Mathieu Sellier, Dr Wolfgang Rack (Gateway Antarctica), Dr Christian Heining (University of Bayreuth, Germany)

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

The melting of ice-sheets and glaciers is stigmatic of global warming and climate change. Because the ice-mass is such a good indicator of climatic changes, it has been under intense scrutiny in the recent past. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, solid ice tends to flow under its own weight like a “very thick” liquid would and the mathematical description of its dynamics bears many similarities with that of highly viscous flows. One of the major challenges geologists face when it comes to understanding ice flows is that while information at the surface of the ice-sheet or glacier is easily accessible, the base is notoriously difficult to access and assess [1]. Current techniques to indirectly infer the bedrock topography rely on radar measurements from an aircraft, a costly operation.    

In order to circumvent this difficulty and cost, the aim of the proposed work is to use information from the surface of the ice mass such as the free surface elevation and/or the free surface velocity to infer unknown basal conditions such as the bedrock elevation and/or the basal slip, i.e. the amount by which the ice mass slips on the bedrock. Such problems are often referred to as “inverse problems” since one tries to infer the unknown causes of observed consequences.

The proposed research builds on parallel efforts from the proposed supervisory team to solve similar inverse problems in a different context. For example, Sellier [2] and Sellier & Panda [3] proposed a simple technique to reconstruct the topography of a substrate from the knowledge of the free surface variation in the context of thin liquid films such as coatings. Gessese et al. [4] applied the same idea to river flows, i.e. the authors showed that it is possible to reconstruct the riverbed topography from the knowledge of the free surface elevation or the free surface velocity. Heining & Aksel generalized the results of [5] to include the effects of inertia [4] and showed that the full velocity field could be reconstructed [6].        

A preliminary step to solve this inverse problem is to understand and describe in mathematical terms glacier dynamics. To do so, we propose to use the Shallow-Ice-Approximation developed by Hutter in the 80’s [7] which express the evolution of the glacier free surface as a function of the bedrock profile, the ice properties, and the rate of ice accumulation/ablation. However, to model realistic glaciers or ice-sheets, a large computational domain with a sufficient mesh resolution combined with a long simulation span is required. In order to tackle this simulation challenge, we propose to develop and implement a numerical technique known for its optimal convergence rate, the Multigrid technique with adaptive time-stepping and local mesh refinement similar to the one developed by the senior supervisor in the context of creeping flows, [8]. A key advantage of this numerical technique is that it easily lends itself to parallel computation, [9]. We will use here a geometric decomposition of the domain assigning each subdomain to a single parallel processor. Each processor is then responsible for implementing the Multigrid algorithm on its own subdomain. The Message Passing Interface framework which facilitates portability across different (distributed and shared memory) high performance computing platforms will be used.    

With the participation of Dr W Rack from Gateway Antarctica, we will have access to the necessary field data to calibrate and validate the implementation of the forward Multigrid solver and solution methodology for the inverse problem.

The student participating in this project will gain valuable experience in scientific computing, numerical techniques, parallel computing/programming, and inverse problem theory. He will be involved in a project with a multi-disciplinary research team. It is hope that the student will be able to visit the University of Bayreuth to interact with a proposed member of the supervisory team, Dr Christian Heining.  

Relevant literature

[1] Maxwell D., Truffer M., Avdonin S., Stuefer M., 2008, “An iterative scheme for determining glacier velocities and stresses”, J. Glaciology 54, 888-898. 
[2] Sellier M., 2008, “Substrate design or reconstruction from free surface data for thin film flows” Phys. Fluids 20, 062106.
[3] Sellier M. and Panda S., 2010, “Beating capillarity in thin film flows”, Int. J. Numer. Meth. Fluids 63, 431-448.
[4] Gessese A.F., Sellier M., Van Houten E., Smart G. „Reconstruction of river bed topography from free surface data using direct numerical approach in one dimensional shallow water flow“, Inverse Problem  27, 025001
[5] Heining C., Aksel N., 2009. “Bottom reconstruction in thin-film flow over topography: Steady solution and linear stability”, Phys. Fluids  21, 083605.
[6] Heining C., Aksel N. “Velocity field reconstruction in gravity-driven flow over unknown topography”, to appear in Physics of Fluids.
[7] Hutter, K., 1983, “Theoretical glaciology; material science of ice and the mechanics of glaciers and ice-sheets”, Dordrect, etc., D. Reidel Publishing Co./Tokyo, Terra Scientific.
[8] Gaskell, P.H., Jimack, P.K., Sellier, M., Thompson, H.M., 2004, “Efficient and accurate time adaptive multigrid simulations of droplet spreading”, Int. J. Num. Meth. Fluids 45, 1161-1186.
[9] Gaskell, P.H., Jimack, P.K., Koh, Y.-Y., Thompson, H.M., 2008, “Development and application of a parallel multigrid solver for the simulation of spreading droplets”, Int. J. Num. Meth. Fluids 56, 979-989.

Funding

self-funded, through University scholarships, or HPC scholarship.

Supervisors

Dr Mathieu Sellier, Dr Mark Jermy (Mechanical Engineering), Dr Michael Taylor (ESR)

Degree

Masters or PhD

roject Description

Bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA) is a method applied by trained investigators in their efforts to solve serious crimes. It is based on the study of the shapes and distribution of individual blood splashes. It has the potential to incriminate or exonerate a suspect and, as such, has life-changing consequences. To date, it relies extensively on the experience of forensic scientists and a range of empirical laws. It is vital that this experience is complemented with the development of a sound scientific basis for the opinions offered in courts of laws.  
We propose to unravel the underlying fundamental mechanisms involved in the formation of blood droplets, subsequent flight, and the resulting bloodstain pattern  during the rapid motion of a weapon covered with a thin layer of blood. The better understanding of how the droplets are formed and how the size distribution depends on the weapon motion is expected to help forensic scientists in their endeavour to solve crimes.

This study will have a computational and an experimental part. For the computational part, we intend to use the Gerris flow solver developed by Dr Stephane Popinet which is ideally suited to model complex interfacial flow phenomena such as atomization processes. A key feature of this CFD program is that it is well-suited to run on parallel CPUs, a feature which will be necessary for the type of simulation we propose to perform. Indeed, the droplet formation during the atomization process requires high grid resolution thus increasing the computational cost several folds. Paralellism is achieved in Gerris through domain decomposition: the global simulation mesh is split into as many subdomains as processors and each processor performs the same instructions as the others but only on its subdomain. As a benchmark problem for this study, we will consider the generation of blood droplets resulting from a bat being swung. This kind of interfacial flow problem is a precisely what Gerris was developed for and we are therefore confident that we will be able to perform these simulations.

The experimental part will build on an ongoing effort by Dr Mark Jermy to study experimentally droplet formation, transport, and deposition using high-speed imaging and particles tracking. Experiments will allow the validation of the numerical simulation while the simulation will provide an insight otherwise unachievable into fluid dynamics of the droplet break-up and subsequent flight.

The student will be exposed to both computational and experimental techniques, an ideal combination for future engineers or academics alike. The student will work in a multi-disciplinary project with a supervisory team covering a wide range of knowledge and expertise and he/she will learn a lot about interfacial fluid mechanics, parallel computing, and flow visualization. The student will have an opportunity to make an important contribution to a much applied field, forensic science, which recently acknowledge its need of a more fundamental understanding of the underlying science.  

Funding

self-funded, through University scholarships, HPC scholarship, or ESR scholarship.

Supervisors

Dr Mathieu Sellier

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Anyone who has ever painted a wall understands the challenges of producing a defect-free finish when the surface on which the paint is deposited is imperfect in some ways.

For example, when the paint layer encounters an occlusion such as a nail, a dry patch may develop downstream of the occlusion. The appearance of not of this defect in the paint layer is a result of capillary and wetting phenomena. As the wetting front, also known as the contact line, passes over the occlusion it may find energetically favourable to detach from the occlusion and form a downstream dry patch. It can be anticipated that the contact line behaviour as it flows past the occlusion is dependent on several parameters such as its velocity, the nature of the fluid, or the surface properties of the occlusion and the substrate. In spite of its obvious practical relevance, this problem has not to date been investigated in a rigorous and systematic way.

The proposed project consists in studying experimentally the effect of an occlusion on the contact line and comparing the results with a theoretical model developed by the project leader. The envisaged experimental rig is rather simple. It consists of a plane which can easily be inclined at a desired angle to the horizontal and on which fluid can released at a desired flow rate or a desired volume. A simple mechanism will allow the clamping of occlusions of different sizes, shapes and materials on the inclined plane. The contact line dynamics past the occlusion will be monitored using a simple video camera but high-speed imaging is also available if deemed necessary. The surface properties such as the surface wettability which determines the tendency of the surface to attract the fluid or repel it will be measured using a purposely purchased surface force measurement device known as a goniometer. Part of the project will also involve reviewing the underlying theory, running the simulations in the commercial Finite Element Package COMSOL based on the model developed by the project leader. As a nice addition to the project and depending on the available time, it may be possible to quantify the free surface elevation in the flow field which would be another very useful outcome of the project to validate the numerical model.

Funding

self-funded or through University scholarship.

Supervisors

Dr Mathieu Sellier, Dr Mark Jermy

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description:

The problem of silica scale deposition occurs in geothermal power stations when the working geothermal fluid is deprived of most of its thermal energy in power generation process. At this point due to the changes in thermodynamic parameters and loss of steam, initially dissolved in geothermal fluid minerals, especially silica, became oversaturated and start to precipitate. They may then deposit on the internal surfaces of the power plant equipment decreasing its efficiency and causing high maintenance costs and equipment over sizing.

The costs incurred by this problem are significant. For example, the replacement of a reinjection well costs at least 10 million dollars. The maintenance involving mechanical clean, chemical clean or process clean is also a costly process and results in loss of power generation during downturn time.

To date, this problem is mitigated by injecting acid which has an associated cost and possible negative environmental impacts. Injecting acid into the brine tends to limit silica polymerisation and deposition.

Silica scale deposition is a complex phenomenon which involves several strongly coupled mechanisms such as heat transfer, chemistry, and hydrodynamics. The current knowledge on silica scale deposition is incomplete limiting the range of possible mitigation strategy.
The research we propose to undertake aims to narrow that knowledge gap to enable the development of innovative, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly mitigation strategies.     

Funding

self-funded or through University scholarship. Funding currently being sought from Mighty River Power  and the Ministry for Science and Innovation.

Instrumentation, Dynamics and Control

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Diabetes is a widespread problem reaching epidemic proportions in New Zealand and the world in general. This project looks at a variety of aspects of automating the monitoring and dosing of insulin for Type I diabetics. Specific aspects of this project will address issues of advanced modelling and adaptive control design for the automation of insulin infusion for diabetics.

The project is expected to entail extending current research in this area to employ more sophisticated models that account for greater physiological variation and effects than the current models. More adaptive and model based methods will be examined, including proofs of stability and convergence for existing and developed control methods. It is of particular interest to determine whether there is a truly "optimal" control design method for this non-linear control problem. The project will be scaled to account for the type of degree the student is interested in pursuing.

The project will be require cooperation between the student and the following diverse team of personnel: The Lipids and Diabetes Research Group at Christchurch Hospital and the UoC Applied Maths Group. Interested students have the opportunity to engage in research in a cutting edge area linking silicon technology and physiological processes as well as the opportunity to work developing technology that could significantly impact the quality of life for millions.

Field of Study

New field of study.

Funding arrangements

Funding is being pursued with the HRC and Insulin Pump Companies but has not yet materialized.

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Mechanical ventilation is a commonly applied therapy in critical care to assist breathing and ameliorate the impact of diseases such as ARDS and SARS. This project addresses the growing need for non- or semi- invasive methods of optimising the pressures and other settings for mechnical ventilation - particularly in an adaptive, feedback controlled fashion that accounts for patient variation and changes in patient condition.

Current methods are based on trial and error, and the application of medical experience and intuition - the so-called "art of medicine". The result is extremely variable ventilation protocols that impact the effectiveness of treatment. What we will do in this research is develop simple, minimal models of lung dynamics that include the impact of disease - most notable acute respiratory distress syndromes (ARDS) such as SARS and pneumonia. These dynamic models will allow us to capture a variety of patient conditions. From these results we will determine what to measure and how best to optimise ventilation using that measurement. Clinical trials on critical care subjects will follow successful research results.

The project will require cooperation between the student and the Department of Intensive Care Medicine at Christchurch Hospital, and Dr. Geoffrey M Shaw in particular. Interested students have the opportunity to engage in research in a cutting edge area linking mechanical engineering, dynamic system modelling, and physiological processes -- better known as Biomedical Engineering -- as well as the opportunity to work developing technology that can significantly impact the prospects for millions of patients a year.

Field of Study

Biomedical or Bio-Engineering.

Funding arrangements

Funding is being pursued with the HRC and a variety of commercial ventures but has not yet materialized.

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters

Project Description

Intensive care unit (ICU) patients are often intubated to help them breathe, and sedated to minimize pain and agitation from the intubation as well as other injuries. Patients that are not sedated enough often become agitated and try to remove the breathing tube causing distress and anxiety that are difficult to control without unnecessary extra sedation.

The goal of this project is twofold

  • Create a sensor array to measure patient motion with existing sensor technology
  • Correlate and quantify patient motion to existing qualitative agitation scales

The basic premise of this project is that patient motion, and other metrics, are directly correlated to patient agitation. Current measures of patient agitation are qualitative relying on medical staff to make periodic, subjective judgements. The application of modern sensor and signal processing technology presents the opportunity to gather more data and apply it to create a qualitative, far more precise, determination of patient agitation. Success would enable better sedation-agitation modelling as well as a more quantified approach to controlling sedation processes.

This project is being run in conjunction with Dr. Geoff Shaw, M.D. a research anaesthesiologist with the Christchurch Hospital and the Otago School of Medicine. Students who take this multidisciplinary project will be expected to spend significant time understanding the medical systems involved and working in conjunction with Dr. Shaw and medical staff as well as with Dr. Chase on the technology side. This research represents an entirely new area of research for an ambitious Post-Grad interested in leading edge biomedical research with significant human impact.

Field of Study

New field of study

Funding arrangements

Funding is being developed however there is currently none available.

Supervisor

Geoff Chase and Dr Geoffrey Shaw (Otago Med. - Chch)

Degree

PhD

Project Description

Intensive care unit (ICU) patients are often intubated to help them breathe, and sedated to minimize pain and agitation from the intubation as well as other injuries. Patients that are not sedated enough often become agitated and try to remove the breathing tube causing distress and anxiety that are difficult to control without extra sedation. Conversely, over, or heavily, sedated patients take significantly longer returning to a conscious state, adding significant cost and time to their hospital stay as well as additional risk due to over sedation.

The primary problem is twofold

  • Lack of an adequate model relating agitation and sedation
  • Inability of shrinking nursing staffs to consistently understand, dose and treat sedated patients with the minimum necessary sedation, i.e. lack of automatic control.

This project looks at addressing these two problems. The first part is to create a quantifiable sedation-agitation model suitable to covering the majority of patient behaviours in terms of relating sedative concentration to qualitative level of sedation and a quantified level of measured agitation. The second part examines applying control systems technology to this system to obtain more robust and consistent results, and to achieve more minimal levels of sedation to minimize ICU stays and healthcare cost.

This project is being run in conjunction with Dr. Geoff Shaw, M.D. a research anaesthesiologist with the Christchurch Hospital and the Otago School of Medicine. Students who take this multidisciplinary project will be expected to spend significant time understanding the medical systems involved and working in conjunction with Dr. Shaw and medical staff as well as with Dr. Chase on the technology side. This research represents an entirely new area of research for an ambitious Post-Grad interested in leading edge biomedical research with significant human impact.

Field of Study

New field of study

Funding arrangements

Funding is being developed but currently not available

Supervisor

Stefanie Gutschmidt

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Micro-electromechanical arrays offer a tangible solution to high-speed, precision information and manipulation technologies such as scanning probe microscopy and nano-lithography. However, the associated multi-physics coupling and observed nonlinear dynamic behaviour are currently not understood and thus prevents successful implementation of an otherwise promising solution. Ongoing collaborative efforts focus on the development of a fundamental understanding of the underlying nonlinear dynamics and coupling phenomena of an array of multi-physics cantilevers. Our theoretical approach is based on nonlinear classical continuum mechanics in combination with numerical simulations and experimental investigations. With these new fundamental insights, underlying dynamic processes can be predicted and controlled, enabling reliable operation of future information and manipulation array technologies.

Funding arrangements

Funding is always being pursued.

Supervisor

Stefanie Gutschmidt

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

There is a growing need among biologists to precisely monitor the dynamic phenomena on extremely soft living cells like mammalian cells in their native environments i.e. liquids. Most of the biological events are faster than the time it takes to capture a full frame. Hence, it is very demanding to track the real-time motion of tiny cells at faster rates using a new non-contact AFM array technology. The operation mode is largely characterized by collective and nonlinear effects (geometric, material, tip-sample interactions and fluid damping). Collective array dynamics in air has been theoretically and experimentally studied. But results will significantly vary when the sample is imaged in its native environment i.e. liquids. This project aims at explaining the underlying physics of a non-contact AFM scan process in fluid with the help of suitable analytical models, analysis and experimental investigations.

Funding arrangements

Funding is always being pursued.

Supervisor

Shayne Gooch

Degree

PhD

Project Description

People with disabilities are often required to work at or near their physical limits in performing daily activities. Hence, subtle improvements to the design of assistive devices can have life changing consequences. The purpose of this research is to better characterise the strength of people with disabilities to enable improvements in the design of assistive devices.

In an earlier study at the University of Canterbury, the strength characteristics of people with normal motor and sensory control were characterised by mapping forward push strength in the sagittal plane. The data obtained indicates that particular strength maps will be obtained for particular groups of people e.g. people with normal strength characteristics will have one characteristic map and people with particular disabilities will have distinctively different maps.

The purpose of this project is to:

  • Establish a means for characterising, in a three dimensional space, the strength of a person in the seated position;
  • Determine whether or not there are distinct strength characteristics for people with disabilities.

Tasks are likely to include:

  • The development of a procedures for measuring human strength while seated
  • Design a test rig for measuring upper body strength
  • Obtain ethics approval ·Measure human strength
  • Establish a means for graphically representing human strength in a 3D space
  • Evolve a methodology for predicting human strength characteristics for people with disabilities based on a limited number of measurements

Funding Arrangements

Funding is being pursued in collaboration with Industrial Research Limited. A scholarship will be available for a suitable student.

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters

Project Description

Structural health monitoring is the examination of structures for damage by examining changes in their vibration response to inputs from expected values. This research area is very important for areas, such as New Zealand, that are subject to earthquakes and other damaging excitations. This technique is also heavily employed in the aircraft and manufacturing equipment industries to test for damage before it is visible.

More specifically, given one or more sensors, vibrations resulting from known or random inputs may be analysed to determine the change in model parameters. Adaptive digital filtering techniques are widely used in digital telecommunications and represent a potential means of dealing with this problem in a fashion that is far more easily implemented in noisy, real-time environments than current methods. While the central focus will be on benchmark problems put forward by Civil Engineering Societies the methods developed are expected to generalize to wider ranges of problems.

This project requires students interested in multi-disciplinary research in Mechanical, Civil and Electrical Engineering, taking the useful parts of approaches to similar problems to develop a novel solution using elements from each field as necessary. The approach used is expected to be a mixture of analytical and experimental culminating in trials on a hardware benchmark problem created by ASCE. This research will occur in conjunction with faculty in the Department of Civil Engineering at Texas AandM University and any interested faculty in the Electrical and Civil Engineering Departments at UC.

Funding arrangements

Funding is always being pursued.

Supervisor

Geoff Chase

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Structural control and mitigation. Earthquakes and other large disturbances cause a significant and damaging structural dynamic response, often nonlinear in nature. The damage can be substantial at 10-20% of GDP for a large event. The damage to society as jobs are lost when business don’t reopen fully due to structural damage to premises is significant and can last 10-30 years before abating in a given region. Finally, the damage to lifelines, like bridges and energy distribution, can result in making recovery more difficult and further loss of lives or injury.

This project requires students interested in multi-disciplinary research in Mechanical, Civil and Electrical Engineering, taking the useful parts of dynamics and finite element analysis, as well as design and control systems to create new devices and systems to mitigate dynamic response of structures. It is undertaken with our Dept of Civil Engineering and other oversease collaborators. There are also analytical and theoretical studies associated with this topic.

Overall, this project area is about structural dynamics and control systems development, and the use of these and analytical methods to analyse these problems and design creative solutions.

Funding arrangements

Funding is always being pursued.

Manufacturing

Supervisor

Dr. Yilei Zhang

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) have changed the traditional manufacturing sections significantly. Tactile sensor and display have broad applications in robotic grasping, autonomous systems, etc. We have developed biomimetic tactile sensor and neurocomputing algorithms to mimic the biological nerval system. Applications have been successfully demonstrated in surface roughness discrimination. For details, please refer to our previous publications. The objectives of this project are to 1. Design and fabricate new bioinspired tactile sensors; 2. Develop new neurocomputing algorithms to better process tactile signals; 3. Develop hardware system for industrial applications. Students with background in AI, NLP, IoT, signal processing, etc. are welcome to apply.

Field of Study

Intelligent manufacturing

Funding Arrangements

Funding is being pursued with the MBIE and a variety of commercial ventures but has not yet materialized.

Materials Science and Engineering

Supervisor

Dr. Catherine Bishop

Degree

PhD

Project Description

The structure and chemistry of grain boundaries in ionic materials can have a large effect on material properties, for example, as used in positive temperature coefficient (PTC) varistors for current protection. Simple defect chemistry models give some insight into the environment around interfaces in ionic materials. This project aims to develop more general diffuse-interface models for grain boundaries in ceramics to explore the possible interface structures (complexions) and transitions between them. Strontium titanate is a model perovskite and has been suggested as an anode in solid oxide fuel cells. Detailed data on grain boundaries in strontium titanate including misorientations, interface planes, high-resolution morphology and populations has been measured and will be used to test theories. This project would suit a student with a degree in Materials Science, Physics or related discipline. Experience with computer programming, C++ and MATLAB will also be useful.

Field of Study

Materials Science

Funding Arrangements

Funding is available for qualified students.

Supervisor

Dr. Catherine Bishop

Position

Internship (4-6 months)

Project Description

Interfacial phase diagrams display information about the state of interfaces in materials as a function of thermodynamic variables such as temperature and bulk composition. The state of interfaces is described by information such as thickness or amount of adsorbate. These quantities are related to properties of materials. This is particularly important in oxides.

Interfaces in oxides typically carry a net charge that affects the defect populations in the vicinity of those interfaces. The amount of charge is related to the structure of the interface, chemistry of the oxide, temperature, pressure and oxygen partial pressure of the system. A phase field model will be developed that contains sufficient detail to model grain boundaries in cubic oxides. Simulations will be used to quantify the effect of thermodynamic variables on the state of interfaces including net charge. This data can be systematically built up to generate interfacial phase diagrams. Depending on the progress of the simulation work, a model interfacial phase diagram may be constructed.

Field of Study

This project would be well suited to a student with an interest in materials science, electronic properties of materials, ceramics or modeling.

Funding Arrangements

Funding is unavailable for this position.

Supervisor

Dr. Catherine Bishop

Position

Internship (4-6 months)

Project Description

A serial sectioning experiment has yielded 3D microstructural information for alloy 800H, an austenitic stainless steel used in high temperature, corrosive environments. Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD), a technique for mapping local orientation of crystals in polycrystalline materials, was used to generate orientation image maps.

In this project, these 2D data sets will be used to reconstruct the 3D microstructure of alloy 800H in OOF3D, an image-based finite element solver for materials science. The mechanical and thermal response of the real volume of material will be calculated using OOF3D.

Field of Study

This project would be well suited to a student with an interest in solid mechanics, microstructural characterization, finite element method or structure-performance relationships.

Funding Arrangements

Funding is unavailable for this position.

Supervisor

Dr. Catherine Bishop

Degree

PhD

Project Description

The government has invested $1.1 M in a UC team to explore high temperature electrolysis of waste slag from the NZ Steel’s ironsands process. The aim is to obtain titanium metal from the oxide mixture in an ultra-high temperature electrolytic cell based on the Cambridge FFC process. This titanium may be suitable for the 3D printing feedstock market.

The team will be building an electrolytic cell, developing the reference electrode and electrolyte, characterising the slag and cell products, and modelling the electrochemistry.

This PhD project focuses on thermodynamic modelling of the oxide mixture and its response to the cell conditions. This is essential for understanding the operating window of the cell.

Please contact Dr Bishop by email at catherine.bishop@canterbury.ac.nz for more information.

Field of Study

Materials science and engineering, chemical engineering, ceramic science.

Funding Arrangements

Fees and stipend.

Supervisor

Dr. Yilei Zhang

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Additive manufacture (3D printing) is a rapidly developing technology with significant applications for customized and decentralized manufacturing in modern society. It has been shown that printed scaffolds offered great flexibility in tissue engineering, for example, we have used Gelma to print high value products for vascularization in tissue engineering. The performance of the vascularized tissue is significantly influenced by the structural design and hydrogel properties of the scaffolds as well as the cell-material interactions. Our bioprinting technology had won Astrolab prize for commercialization. The objectives of this project are to develop novel bioprinting hydrogels for high resolution and high speed bioprinting. Students with experience in biprinting, polymer, biotechnology, etc. are welcome to apply.

Field of Study

Material

Funding Arrangements

Funding is being pursued with the HRC and a variety of commercial ventures but has not yet materialized.

Robotics and Automation

Supervisor

Stefanie Gutschmidt

Degree

Masters or PhD

Project Description

Forestry is a major export industry, but workers face some of the highest risks of injury and fatality. To provide a long-term solution we have designed, built and developed a tree-traversing robot that could move through a plantation forest by gripping trees rather than the usual wheeled vehicles that also cause soil damage. The fully-functional, remote-controlled tree-traversing robot (1/4-scale prototype) is the first of its kind in the world. The trunk-gripping mechanism allows the robot to rotate around the tree and to accurately grasp any other trunk within its maximum reach in any direction. The prototype includes actuator control translated into joy-stick operation by the forester. In a separate research attempt an innovative cutting mechanism was designed, built and added onto the existing robot. When the current ¼-scale design is scaled up to full size the resultant machine will be heavy.  Aim of this work is to develop and to produce a light weight machine which retains the ability to cut down standing Pinus radiata trees and keep the operator at a safe distance from the tree. Therefore the project’s focus is optimising the machine

Funding arrangements

Funding is always being pursued.