A dependable UAV based structure inspection system

Supervised within the Spatial Engineering Research Centre and the Department of Software Engineering and Computer Science.


Many steel structures, such as bridges, pylons, towers, oil rigs platforms, require frequency inspections. Performing these with human inspectors or manned aircraft involves high risk and system shutdown time.


To develop a guidance system for a UAV to keep a safe distance from the structure whilst collecting inspection image data. The ability to perform these tasks in adverse weather will enable more frequent and lower cost inspections.


  • Carry out a literature search on existing and previous work in this area.
  • Gather information on applicable sensors currently available.
  • Create a HIL simulation model for sensor/ flight controller.
  • Perform simulation trials on various safety critical scenarios.
  • Build a proof of concept prototype for demonstration in at least one scenario.
  • Carry out trials on a structure.
  • Deliver a thesis on this project.


The suitable candidate will have a background in engineering, with interests in sensor technology, computer vision and/or computer science.

Stipend and duration

The student may receive a stipend tax-free, with the course fees being the responsibility of the student. The duration of the project will be one year, and he/she will work mainly within, and use, facilities of the Spatial Engineering Research Centre. There may be some opportunity to work with the client at their site.

Submission of applications

This opportunity will be open until filled. Applicants are required to submit the following documents by email to Graeme Woodward.

  • Your current curriculum vitae.
  • Confirmation that you are a New Zealand resident or citizen (required for scholarship).
  • An A4 page typed statement about how your experience or interests relate to the chosen project(s).
  • A reference from a supervisor or lecturer (or referee details).
  • A copy of your full tertiary academic transcript.

Please ensure you include: full legal name, postal address, email address, telephone/mobile number, programme and year of study and student number.


  • The University of Canterbury reserves the right to not award the stipend if a suitable candidate is not found. 
  • Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by the UC project supervisors, College of Engineering.
  • Applicants must meet the University of Canterbury enrolment criteria for postgraduate study. 
  • Stipend subject to a successful contract agreement with the client, once a suitable candidate is identified.