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Location: Sydney, NSW
Duration: 4 months
Proposed start date: December 2018
Keywords: Systems controls engineering; electro-mechanical and software engineering; communications protocols

Please note: Due to the sensitivity and security of this project, students must have Australian Citizenship to apply. Students also need to be enrolled in one of the following universities; Macquarie University, The University of Newcastle, The University of New South Wales, The University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, University of Wollongong or Western Sydney University. Any applicants not meeting this requirement will automatically be deemed ineligible for this project.

This research internship is funded in partnership with New South Wales Defence Innovation Network.


The industry Partner are leaders in smart, ultra-portable, and easily deployable technologies for water surface and underwater missions. Most recently, they released to market a micro-sized unmanned marine vehicle with swarming capabilities. They are now developing a new product that requires the development of a non-intrusive wireless control system to maximise flexibility of the vehicle for a broad range of applications and provide opportunity for users to customise vehicle characteristics in real time and without the need for additional tooling.


The objective for this project is to create a non-intrusive wireless control system to control the speed of motors externally mounted to the hull of an autonomous marine vehicle (AMV). This system must be able to operate at a depth of 150 metres. The controls will be delivered via a PIC to a wireless interface device that could be inductive, optical, acoustic, electromagnetic, radio frequency or other medium to control motor speed. It must also be able to receive status information such as motor type, battery types, motor RPM, current draw, battery charge levels, etc.

This control system will be used in conjunction with a rapid release and attachment system currently being designed by the company to support configuration of a variety of propulsion systems and payloads.

The industry partner will provide IT, tooling, and material resources in addition to access to their lead software, electrical, and mechanical engineers for additional guidance and project alignment needed to complete this objective.


We are looking for a PhD student with the following skills:


  • Systems controls engineering with general understanding of electro-mechanical and software engineering principles.


  • Experience in systems controls or systems engineering in a maritime environment is desired.
  • Communications protocols experience is strongly desired as well.


The deliverable will be a non-intrusive wireless control system to be integrated with the company’s rapid release and attachment system for the AMV in development. This system should allow for the rapid attachment of propulsion units, sensors, and other payloads to address multiple mission types. The configuration and reconfiguration for this AMV must be tool-free and able to be adjusted in the field under challenging operational conditions.

The design goal is to create a wireless control interface that negates the need for connectors and through-holes into the AMV’s hull. This system would deliver command and control signals and rceive status information from externally mounted components.

The hull material is envisioned to be an extruded thermoplastic, the properties of which could be tuned to meet the needs of the transmission technique chosen to support various external component types as described below.

Propulsion: It is required to fit multiple motor types and sizes along the hull. Each motor would have its own self-contained power pack. Commands for speed and direction should come from the propulsion and navigation controls internal to the vehicle.

Sensors: Additional sensor types would be added externally. Sampling data rates would likely be in the 1Khz or lower, and message structures would have a packet size of up to 64 bytes.

Foiling Propulsion: There is a requirement to connect a foiling system that has an integrated motor and control surface for steering the AMV. The same system would be used to provide through-hull control and status information capture.


The intern will receive $3,000 per month of the internship, usually in the form of stipend payments.

It is expected that the intern will primarily undertake this research project during regular business hours, spending at least 80% of their time on-site with the industry partner.  The intern will be expected to maintain contact with their academic mentor throughout the internship either through face-to-face or phone meetings as appropriate.

The intern and their academic mentor will have the opportunity to negotiate the project’s scope, milestones and timeline during the project planning stage.


APPLICATIONS CLOSE  21 November 2018

Apply here