HDR Scholarship - External Interfaces for Autonomous Vehicles in Shared Spaces

Expressions of interest now open.

A doctoral cotutelle project and scholarship between Deakin University (Australia) and Coventry University (UK) is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic of 'External Interfaces for Autonomous Vehicles in Shared Spaces'.

Project Supervisor

School OR Institute


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus

Research topic

The research community has demonstrated growing interest in the interaction between autonomous, aka driverless or self-driving, vehicles and vulnerable road users (VRUs) such as pedestrians and cyclists. This usually focuses on technology or engineering solutions to detect pedestrians and their intention to cross. However, design and Human Factors focused alternatives exist which attempt to understand how vehicles should communicate their manoeuvring intention(s) to pedestrians and cyclists via external human machine interfaces (HMI). These interactions are particularly problematic when VRUs have to share the same environments with autonomous vehicles, for example, in semi-pedestrianised areas. Studies have suggested that in the absence of an ability to communicate eye-to-eye or face-to-face with a driver, it is important and necessary to communicate the vehicle’s manoeuvring intentions to pedestrians.

This project and scholarship are offered as part of a collaborative doctoral cotutelle program with the Institute for Future Transport and Cities, Coventry University, UK. The successful candidate will be jointly supervised by a team of leading researchers from Deakin University and Coventry University and will graduate with a jointly supervised doctoral degree from each institution. The program is for a duration of 3.5 years. It is anticipated that the PhD candidate will spend at least 1 year during the program at Deakin University, with the remainder of the program based at Coventry University.

The PhD scholar will have access to the world class research facilities of both universities and work under joint supervision of Dr Ashim Debnath and Prof Stewart Birrell.

Project aim

This PhD program will investigate external interfaces for autonomous vehicles in shared spaces. The doctoral researcher will be based at the National Transport Design Centre (NTDC) in the UK and have use of our world leading VR and Mixed Reality facilities to design and evaluate the user-centred interfaces.

Important dates

Expressions of Interest to Deakin and applications to Coventry close 5pm AEST, Wednesday 30 September2020.


This scholarship is supported by Coventry University and is available for a duration of 3 years

  • Stipend of £15,000 per annum (2020 rate)
  • Tuition fee waiver
  • Return economy airfare to Deakin University to support residency period in Australia
  • Student visa and health insurance costs for period of residency at Deakin University in Australia

Deakin University will also provide a tuition fee waiver for a duration of 4 years for non-Australian citizens, non-Australian permanent residents and non-New Zealand citizens.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be a domestic or international candidate
  • meet the PhD entry requirements of both Deakin University and Coventry University, including English language proficiency requirements
  • be enrolling full time
  • be able to physically locate to both Coventry University (UK) and Deakin University (Australia)

Please refer to Deakin’s research degree entry pathways page and Coventry’s research entry criteria page for further information.

How to apply

Applications are submitted to both institutions. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by a panel of academic staff from each institution.

Please apply using the Expression of Interest Form, available via the ‘How to Apply – research degrees’ page, prior to being invited by the Faculty to lodge a formal HDR application to Deakin. The successful candidate will also be required to lodge a separate PhD application to Coventry University via the Coventry ‘Making an Application page’.


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Dr Ashim Debnath or Prof Stewart Birrell

Dr Ashim Debnath (Deakin University)

Email ashim.debnath@deakin.edu.au

Ph. +61 3 522 73528

Prof Stuart Birrell (Coventry University)

Email stewart.birrell@coventry.ac.uk

Ph. +44 07557 425 902