Deakin-Coventry Cotutelle - Intelligent Real-time UAV Autonomy Under Cyberattack

This is a doctoral Cotutelle project in ‘Intelligent Real-time UAV Autonomy Under Cyberattack’ between Deakin University (Australia) and Coventry University (UK).

Deakin Project Supervisor

Deakin School or Institute


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus (Australia) and Coventry University (United Kingdom)

Research topic

This is a doctoral cotutelle project between Deakin University (Australia) and Coventry University (United Kingdom). The successful PhD Student will be awarded a scholarship from Coventry University with the supervision team being drawn from Deakin University and Coventry University. The PhD Student will graduate with two testamurs, one from Deakin University and one from Coventry University, each of which recognises that the program was carried out as part of a jointly supervised doctoral program. The program is for a duration of 3.5 years and scheduled to commence in 2023.

The PhD Student is anticipated to spend up to 12 months of the total period of the program at Deakin University, with the remainder of the program based at Coventry University.

The current state-of-the-art command and control UAV/UAS (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Unmanned Aerial Systems) heavily rely on original and modified open-source hardware and software architectures e.g., real-time and Linux-based operating systems, Robot Operating System (ROS), and widely used communication technologies such as VHF, 3G – 5G, and Satellite services on both the UAV flying platforms and the Ground Station/s. These architectures have some inherited security and reliability vulnerabilities at system, software, and hardware levels that can result in UAV/UAS data alteration or corruption under cyber-attacks. New continuous authentication techniques could potentially identify unauthorized and/or data corruption, nevertheless, during the identification and correction period the UAS/UAV system could lack real-time navigation data.

Project aim

The project's aim is to intelligently compute real-time autonomous actions and path-planning trajectories that utilize the last authenticated and/or secure systems’ data for the UAV navigation. To seamlessly activate the real-time intelligent autonomy for the UAV during compromised UAV/UAS system data, the software and hardware architectures related specifications shall be appropriately augmented. The new system definition will manage the activation of the UAV's intelligent real-time autonomy based on only a limited number of reliable real-time data and/or last authenticated real-time data. So, the flight mission is not compromised until the next complete real-time reliable and authenticated UAV/UAS data

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Saturday 27 May 2023

Please be aware that screening for this advert will commence immediately and the scholarship may be awarded prior to the closing date.


This  scholarship is supported by Coventry University, is available over 3.5 years and includes:

  • Stipend of £17,000 per annum
  • A Tuition Fee Waiver
  • Travel Support Package including one 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 full tuition fee waiver for a duration of up to 4 years.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • meet the PhD entry requirements of both Deakin University and Coventry university, including:
    • English language proficiency requirements (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
    • have achieved 80% or equivalent in the research component of their previous study or an equivalent level of academic attainment, taking into account previous study, relevant work experience, research publications and other research experience
    • meet all other minimum entry requirements according to the Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) Admission, Selection and Enrolment Procedure.
  • be enrolling full time
  • be able to physically locate to both Coventry University (UK) and Deakin University (Australia)
  • have experience in:
    • Digital Systems
    • Linux
    • Open Source Software
    • Programming Experience (Python, C/C++)
    • (Preferable) Open-source development boards e.g Raspberry pi

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

How to apply

Applicants  should firstly contact Associate Professor Zubair Baig to discuss the project. After discussing your application with the Deakin Supervisor, you will be required to submit an Expression of interest directly with the relevant Faculty.


If successful, you will be invited by Deakin University to lodge a formal HDR application.

The successful applicant will also be required to lodge a separate PhD application to Coventry University via the 'Making an Application' page.  Please be aware that screening for this advert will commence immediately and the scholarship may be awarded prior to the closing date.

Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Associate Professor Zubair Baig;

Associate Professor Zubair Baig
+61 3 5227 9535