A development of soft modular robotic arm

Department/School: Biomedical Engineering, School of Biological Sciences

Supervisor: Dr Yoshikatsu Hayashi

Co-supervisor: Professor Slawomir Nasuto

Application Deadline: Applications accepted all year round

Funding Availability: Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Duration: 36 months


There is a growing interest in using robotics to deliver effective assistance during the intensive and repetitive therapies. However, no such system has been demonstrated so far in practice, largely due to lack of the hardware solutions able to generate sufficient forces yet producing compliant interaction with a human ("soft-ware"), as well as nonexistence of appropriate control laws to drive such robotic devices. The project will develop a soft modular robotic arm in which the soft wedge-like cellular inflatable units can be assembled to form a worm like assistive arm. The wedge angle distribution along the arm will generate the optimal trajectory supporting the patient arm movement and the elastic modulus control in each cell contribute to the compliant motion. The project will also develop a novel distributed MIMO control law inspired by neuronal dynamics, integrating the ensemble of autonomous agents and the newly proposed control scheme, in which distributed control will automatically determine the number of degrees of freedom and their coordinated control needed to achieve the compliant assistive motion. The project will be carried out in the recently established institute, Brain Embodiment Lab

University of Reading

The University of Reading is one of the UK’s 20 most research-intensive universities and among the top 200 universities in the world. Achievements include the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement (1989) and the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education (1998, 2006 and 2009). The modelling will take place in the Biomedical Engineering Section, School of Biological Sciences, which has a strong reputation for its innovative research in computer science, cybernetics, and electronic engineering. Recent major investments have further strengthened the neuroscience activities, with two new professors, three new lecturers and the creation of a Brain Embodiment Lab.


Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in a relevant subject such as systems and control engineering, cybernetics, physics, or mathematics.

How to apply

Please submit an application for a PhD (initial registration) in Cybernetics (Biological Sciences) to the University using the link below.


In the online application system, there is a section for “Research proposal” and a box that says “If you have already been in contact with a potential supervisor, please tell us who” – in this box, please enter “Dr Yoshikatsu Hayashi”.

Funding notes

We welcome applications from self-funded students worldwide for this project.

Further enquiries

For further information about this PhD opportunity, please contact:

Dr Yoshikatsu Hayashi, tel: +44 (0)118 378 5024, y.hayashi@reading.ac.uk

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