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Effective Urban Airspace Management under Realistic Communication Constraints


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Tuesday 1 October 2024
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Competition funded
Source of funding
Doctoral training partnership
Professor Leandro Soares Indrusiak
Additional supervisors
Dr Arash Bozorgchenani
School of Computing
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Overview:<br /> Autonomous and unmanned aircraft have received significant attention over the past decade, both in academic research and in industry. From Amazon&rsquo;s delivery drones to UberAIR electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs), numerous initiatives have been announced, prototyped and tested. While significant attention has been paid to the aircraft themselves, including their abilities to sense the environment and navigate autonomously while avoiding collisions, there are still many open issues when it comes to managing the urban airspace that will be made available to such aircraft. Regardless of all the advantages brought by autonomous and unmanned aircraft, they will not be allowed to operate over urban airspaces if they pose a risk to citizens, their properties and activities.<br /> <br /> This PhD project will investigate ways to evaluate urban airspace management approaches using simulation and analytical models. The work will compare centralised and partitioned approaches, where traffic management systems (TMS) are responsible for (a part of) the urban airspace and must authorise a spatio-temporal (4D) trajectory before an aircraft is cleared to take-off, as well as completely distributed approaches where the aircraft themselves must negotiate the acquisition of a 4D trajectory in real-time. Comparison metrics will include the ability to allow flight plans to complete safely and in a timely fashion, the level of occupancy of the airspace, and the energy efficiency of the achieved flight plans. Almost as important as the airspace management approaches themselves, the project will also investigate the communication and connectivity requirements needed for each approach, aiming to avoid a common pitfall in this area where unrealistic communication assumptions lead to the development of approaches that cannot be effectively deployed in urban environments.<br />

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin-left:28px">&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Hypothesis:</strong></p> <p>Fully-distributed infrastructureless urban airspace management can enable the creation and maintenance of 4D trajectories that meet space separation and time constraints in airpaces at a similar level of occupancy as those managed by centralised and partitioned systems when the same realistic communication constraints are imposed to all of them.</p> <p><strong>Objectives:</strong></p> <p>The initial stage of the PhD work will adapt existing simulation and analytical models to evaluate different 4D trajectory creation and maintenance algorithms by a single centralised traffic management system. The constraints imposed by line-of-sight communication, which may lead to dynamic multi-hop connectivity, must be taken into account in this scenario and should limit the ability to change plans for in-flight aircraft.</p> <p>The second stage of the work will lift the assumption of a single centralised TMS, and will study the partition of the airspace among multiple independent area managers. Comparative analysis and optimisation of hand-off mechanisms between area managers, as well as a better understanding of the communication protocols between them, are expected outcomes of this stage.</p> <p>The final stage will investigate protocols for distributed airspace management, allowing aircraft to dynamically negotiate the acquisition of 4D trajectories. Value-based, market-based and criticality-aware resource management techniques, which were previously investigated by the lead supervisor, are some of the potential starting points for this part of the research. Realistic models for communication and localisation should be used, aiming to show different levels of constraints to the ability of aircraft to negotiate portions of the airspace far in advance.</p> <p>Additional areas of research and development that can be considered, and that would enrich all three parts of the work, include the use of mapping information from a real urban area, the ability to evaluate the impact of weather conditions on the air traffic (e.g. wind, snow), the impact of the environment on communications (e.g. electromagnetic noise.</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:11px">Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for <strong><em>PHD Computing FT,</em></strong>&nbsp;in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is&nbsp;<em><strong>Effective Urban Airspace Management under Realistic Communication Constraints</strong></em> as well as <a href="">Professor Leandro Soares Indrusiak</a> as your proposed supervisor and in the finance section, please state clearly&nbsp;<em><strong>the funding that you are applying for, if you are self-funding or externally sponsored</strong></em>.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p>Applications will be considered after the closing date. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. &nbsp;We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents in support of your application by the closing date of 3 April 2024 for Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship or&nbsp;8 April 2024 for Leeds Doctoral Scholarship:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.5 overall with at least 6.5 in writing and at least 6.0 in reading, listening and speaking or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p><strong>Self-Funded or externally sponsored students are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Doctoral Scholarships</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship</a>&nbsp;(open from October 2023)&nbsp;are available to UK applicants.&nbsp;<a href="">Alumni Bursary</a>&nbsp;is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Non-UK</strong>&nbsp;&ndash; The&nbsp;<a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China (now closed for 2024/25 entry). The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to support US citizens.&nbsp;<a href="">Alumni Bursary</a>&nbsp;is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Important:</strong>&nbsp; Any costs associated with your arrival at the University of Leeds to start your PhD including flights, immigration health surcharge/medical insurance and Visa costs are not covered under this studentship.</p> <p>Please refer to the&nbsp;<a href="">UKCISA</a>&nbsp;website for information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:11px">For further information about this project, please contact Professor Leandro Soares Indrusiak by email to&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information about your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email to <a href=""></a></p>