PhD Studentship at Loughborough University: Sensor Management and Fusion for Detection and Tracking of Small Drones

Closing Date
16 November 2020

Application details:

Start date of studentship: 1 January 2020


Primary supervisor: Dr Matthew Coombes

Secondary supervisor: Dr Dan O’Boy

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014). In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career.

Find out more:

Consumer Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are cheap and simple to use and anyone with £500 could buy a DJI quadrotor and easily disrupt an airport, deliver drugs into a prison, or threaten critical infrastructure. This is clearly highlighted by the Gatwick airport incident. Since then there has been huge interest in counter UAS technology from various government departments. During this PhD we aim to develop a multi sensor system to detect and localise them.

You will be joining the Autonomous Systems Group which is a part of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering ( We conduct world leading research in the areas of aerial robotics and autonomous driving. We have newly refurbished state of the art research facilities, with amazing opportunities to conduct practically based research.

Full Project Detail:

To mitigate this threat of small UAS, key regions and assets need to be protected from hostile UAS. To achieve this, hostile UAS need to be detected, identified, localised, and only then neutralised. One of the greatest challenges is in their detection and tracking, due to their small size.

There are number of sensor solutions that can detect these small UAS e.g. cameras, radar, LIDAR and acoustic. However, each sensor system has their disadvantages e.g. Limited range, needing daylight, low accuracy, high false detection rate.

The work to be conducted during this PhD would be to develop sensor fusion algorithms to take data from a variety of static and mobile sensors to identify and track small UAS. By deploying sensors strategically and fusing data from multiple sensors the disadvantages of a single sensor system can be removed and tracking performance can be improved. In addition, sensor management techniques are to be developed to either guide mobile sensors or point static sensors to provide good sensor coverage and increase performance.

This exciting project will develop skills in sensor fusion, tracking, statistics, programming and practical skills involving sensor integration and operating R/C aircraft/helicopters for validation.

Find out more:

For an informal chat, contact Dr Matthew Coombes (details below)

Entry requirements:

Candidates must be expecting, or have already obtained, at least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a relevant field.

Funding information:

The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £15,285 per annum for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. International (non-EU) students may apply, however the total value of the studentship will cover the international tuition fee only.

Contact details:

Name: Dr Matthew Coombes

Email address:

Telephone number: +44 (0)1509 225900

How to apply:

All applications should be made online at: Under programme name, select ‘Aeronautical Engineering’.

Please quote reference number: AAE-MC-2004

Posted on 25th October 2020 in Sensors, Job Opportunities in Acoustics