EPSRC DTP Studentship - Underground Digital Twins for Future Tunnelling

University of Cambridge
January 31, 2023
Offerd Salary:£107 billi
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Negotigation
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EPSRC DTP Studentship - Underground Digital Twins for Future Tunnelling

A substantial amount of underground construction, much of it in urban environments, is planned in the UK for the coming decades. This includes major projects such as High Speed 2 (estimated £107 billion) as well as transport upgrade projects such as the Bakerloo Extension (£2.57 billion). Given the current economic climate and the UK's current progress on the Net-Zero agenda, we urgently need new ways to deliver this infrastructure in a way that is low- cost, efficient and sustainable. In partnership with start-up hyperTunnel Ltd, University of Cambridge will deliver a key enabler, namely underground digital twins, of future tunnelling operations to alleviate these pain points.

Future underground infrastructure will be built by autonomous swarming robots. The robots will (a) survey the ground, (b) feed live data to a digital twin of the tunnel to update and optimise construction operations by the swarm, and (c) inform engineers of progress. The aim of this PhD research is to achieve a step-change in how underground digital twins are constructed by leveraging recent advances in sensor data fusion and machine learning (ML). Digital ground surveying techniques (e.g. ground penetrating radars, seismic scanner, camera and Lidar) will be used to develop 3D mapping of the underground space during construction. A scalable ML framework will be developed to achieve accurate 3D reconstruction and perform perception, prediction and planning tasks. The fused sensory inputs will subsequently be used to build the digital twin. The developed framework will be developed and validated through real-world data provided by industry partner and infraTech start-up hyperTunnel Ltd. The project is co-funded by hyperTunnel Ltd and will be supervised by Dr Brian Sheil.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree in Engineering or Computer Science. We are seeking candidates with a strong background and academic track record in information engineering / computer science / ML. The successful applicant will have strong coding skills, a demonstrated ability to liaise with industry and an interest in future construction.

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Dr Brian Sheil (bbs24@cam.ac.uk).

EPSRC DTP studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for students who are eligible for Home Fees. Overseas students may be considered for a small number of awards at the Home Fees rate. Full eligibility criteria can be found at https: // www. postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/fees/what-my-fee- status

Applications should be submitted via the University of Cambridge Applicant Portal www. graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/egegpdpeg, with Dr Brian Sheil identified as the potential supervisor.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.


Department of Engineering, Cambridge






15 December 2022

Closing date

31 January 2023

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