Robotic fish to enable effective coastal kaitiakitanga: information is power

PhD Project

We are part of a large project led by X-craft limited and involving partners from multiple research institutions, including NIWA, UoA, Victoria University, and AUT. The project's overarching goal is to develop an autonomous fish robot that can observe coastal marine systems in New Zealand to improve ecological management. This is an exciting opportunity and an ambitious project, with novel technology.

The successful applicant would be based at the University of Auckland and help develop underwater propulsion based on soft actuators (or artificial muscles). A propulsion system based on artificial muscle would avoid the entanglement issues encountered by traditional propellers and would be silent, a key feature for observing marine life.

You will address two main research questions:

  • What is the best artificial muscle configuration for an underwater propulsion system?
  • How to design artificial muscles (which are actuated using high voltage) for long-term operation underwater?

Desired skills

We are looking for a motivated engineer with a BE/ME or final year engineering student. Particular interest or expertise in mechatronics, mechanical, electrical, or biomedical engineering is preferred.

The project will have an extensive hands-on component, so you need to be comfortable prototyping new actuators, developing new fabrication processes or measurement set-ups. The project would suit a student with a creative mind, a hands-on approach, and an excellent analytical mindset. Prior experience with dielectric elastomer actuators is a plus but not necessary.

We particularly welcome applications from Māori, Pacific, disabled, and rainbow communities. Ka tino mihi matou ki nga tono mai i te iwi Maori. Matou te faʻafeiloaʻi faapitoa talosaga mai nuu Pasefika.



Contact and supervisors

For more information or to apply for this project, please follow the link to the supervisors below: