Supervisory Team:   Dr. Katherine Plant & Dr. Katie Parnell

Project description

In the future, autonomous systems are poised to become widely available to assist us with our mobility throughout our day to day lives. Future autonomous technologies will effectively maintain the infrastructure of our cities, dependably manage our road traffic to maximise flow and minimise environmental impact. To realise this future we require resilient automated transport systems that can avoid, withstand, recover from, adapt, and evolve to handle uncertainty adversity, and disruption. Alongside this we must also consider how autonomous technologies will interact with human users, ensuring inclusive, empathetic and ethical design. Human Factors offers the opportunity to assess and respond to these requirements by developing methods and practises to capture resilience. 

The University of Southampton are inviting applications for a PhD studentship in Human Factors Engineering within the Transportation Reseach Group. The project will focus on resilience within automated transport systems, developing methods to assess resilience and enhance the response of transport networks to possible disruptions. It will develop methods to understand how automated transport systems meet technical specification as well as how they adhere to social legal, ethical, empathy and cultural rules. These methods will then be assessed on their reliability and validity through user testing. A mixture of virtual reality and transport simulators will be used to develop experiential scenarios that can assess the resilience of automated transport scenarios. Utilising the ‘Southampton University Driving Simulator’ and the newly created ‘Virtual Reality Cave’ interactions between different road user types will be investigated. Providing the opportunity to develop theory and test it with real world applications. 

This PhD project will sit within a wider EPSRC funded project into Trustworthy Autonomous Systems which will undertake research across a variety of different automated domains with input from Computer Scientists, Engineers, Psychologists, Philosophers, Lawyers, and Mathematicians. The University of Southampton will focus on Transportation but with the opportunity to work collaboratively with other domains, for example emergency response and assistive care. 

We are seeking a candidate across a broad range of areas who can prove that they can undertake independent research into this new and exciting field. Ideally the candidate will have some previous experience in Human Factors, Psychology and Engineering related to automation, automated systems and/or transportation. 

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Katie Parnell, Email:

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent). Desirably in a Human Factors or a Psychology related discipline. 

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 July 2022 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £16,062 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2022/23, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD Engineering & Environment (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Dr. Katherine Plant  

Applications should include

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact:

Applying Human Factors for Resilient Future Transport Systems

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