Study level


Vacation research experience scheme


Science and Engineering Faculty

School of Electrical Engineering and Robotics

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Matthew Dunbabin
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Robotic maritime systems are already transforming operations such as research, freight and surveillance. However, much like driving cars on our roads, there are rules around driving maritime systems (boats) on waterways regarding where you can drive and how to avoid and behave in potential collision situations.

Implementing these rules on robotic systems is an unsolved problem. This gap provides an exciting research opportunity requiring real-time autonomous perception and actions to maintain safe operations.

In this project, you'll explore and develop state-of-the-art solutions to allow robotic surface vessels (robot boats) to safely travel complex waterways in and around other human-driven vessels. This will involve diving deep into vision and laser-based sensor processing and fusion algorithms, as well as robust autonomous decision support frameworks to allow compliance with collision regulations (COLREGs). You'll then implement and validate these algorithms on our extensive state-of-the-art robotic boat fleet.

This project offers you the opportunity to gain invaluable experience and skills that will foster opportunities for international travel and collaborations.

Research activities

Research activities include:

  • investigating and developing advanced robotic vision, sensor fusion and automated decision algorithms and frameworks to adhere to collection regulations for autonomous marine vehicles
  • evaluating algorithms in challenging real-world environments and scenarios
  • collaborating with industry and end-users as well as other top international universities
  • preparing and giving high-quality research presentations
  • writing academic research papers for submission to top tier academic conferences and journals.


The primary outcomes from this project include:

  • new Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and image-based obstacle detection and avoidance algorithms that adhere to COLREGs
  • new autonomous decision support algorithms to comply with COLREGs
  • demonstrations (live) and videos showing algorithm performance on real-world robotic vessels in challenging real-world scenarios
  • research papers in top international conferences and journals
  • research presentations at international conferences and other academic institutions as well as to industry
  • exposure and experience in cutting-edge field robotics.

Skills and experience

You will need to have a high GPA (above 6) with experience and skills in a number of the following areas:

  • coding/programming
  • algorithms
  • image processing
  • sensor processing
  • machine learning
  • mapping
  • path planning.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.