PhD in Electronic Engineering COgnitive Assisted Living Ambient System (COALAS)

Number of awards available: Two

Value of award: A non-taxable subsistence allowance of approximately £35,190 in total plus Home/EU fees for a period of 36 months of registration.

The project

The COgnitive Assisted Living Ambient System (COALAS) project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund’s Interreg IVA Programme, and it represents a major collaboration between the University of Kent and several British and French partners (including universities and health organisations). The project aims to address technological barriers inhibiting the uptake of new technological advances addressing issues of assisted living for people with mobility difficulties. To achieve this COALAS aims to integrate in to a novel cognitive framework existing and new technical solutions such as telemedicine devices, autonomous humanoid robotic helpers, autonomous and semi-autonomous wheelchairs, and the provision for efficient secure communications among these subsystems.

The University of Kent will contribute to several areas within the project and the studentship will be associated with the following:

Robust Robotic Control and Path Planning

The Kent team will contribute to the development of autonomous control algorithms for the NAO humanoid robotic helper, as well as path planning algorithms required by a robotic wheelchair. This work will involve efficient hardware implementation which can be easily and simply integrated with the (semi-)autonomous wheelchair, and sensor measurements fusion leading to the integration and advanced feedback-based control of the humanoid and mobile units together in order to  further enhance the robustness of the overall system.

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Secure Communications Technology

To ensure maximal effectiveness of the autonomous wheelchair and robotic assistant technology, it is advantageous that a secure and efficient means of wireless communication be available between the wheelchair/humanoid robotic assistant and other locations such as a central medical base. However, a major issue arises since an efficient means of encrypting any transmitted data is required to prevent the potential compromise of personal medical data and ensure the data is only available to authorized persons and locations. It is, therefore, proposed to enhance the use of an authentication system developed at the Universities of Kent and Essex based on the direct generation of encryption keys based on properties of electronic devices (termed ICmetrics). ICmetrics possess the dual advantage of not requiring the storage of any encryption key (which is regenerated as required) and also allows the identity of an electronic device to be uniquely determined, hence guaranteeing its authenticity.

The candidates and the studentships 

Candidates should have a first class or good 2.1 honours degree in a relevant branch of engineering, mathematics, or computer science.

An appropriate degree at Masters (MSc) level will be an advantage.

The studentship will provide full Home/EU level tuition fees for the registration period of 36 months, and a non-taxable subsistence allowance of £35190 in total with a separate budget for IT equipment, software and travel to conferences and project meetings.    

Commencement of Project

The successful applicant must be available to start immediately.

Application procedure 

Applicants should apply online at and select the following:

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Research topic: COALAS project

Deadline: Friday 28th June 2013

Informal enquiries should be made to Dr Konstantinos Sirlantzis (

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