Scientia

UNSW Scientia PhD Scholarships

The UNSW Scientia PhD Scholarship Scheme is a cornerstone of the UNSW 2025 Strategy, and aims to attract new PhD scholars to undertake projects in strategic research areas. If you would like more information about the Scientia PhD Scholarship scheme, please visit UNSW Scientia Scholarships.

PhD Projects

Remotely Piloted Aircraft: A Human Factors Investigation into Human Performance Limitations.
Supervisory Panel: Dr Brett Molesworth, Dr Tay Koo, Prof Gabriel Lodewijks.

The applications for remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), otherwise known as drones are rapidly expanding. Recently in Sydney, Australia, RPA have been approved for the delivery of urgent medical supplies such as human organs and blood products between hospitals. Large organisations such as Amazon in the US are trialling RPA for the delivery of consumer products. Regulations surrounding RPA operations, in terms of restrictions placed on the operator due to human performance limitations are non-existent. In contrast, pilots of both commercial and general aviation aircraft are subject to a number of restrictions, including flight hours, duty time, category of aircraft certified to fly, meteorological conditions permitted to operate in, to name a few. Hence, the aim of the present research is to investigate the human limitations associated with RPA use, under various operational conditions in order to influence policy and regulation.

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How do Drivers Avoid Crashes and Novices Develop Key Skills?
Supervisory Panel: Assoc. Prof Teresa Senserrick, Prof Ann Williamson, Assoc. Prof Jake Olivier.

Traditionally, road safety research has focused on investigating factors commonly identified in crashes. This is changing to examine the boundaries of safe driving in "normal" conditions and how they are learned. We are at the forefront of this research, leading Australia's first naturalistic study of experienced drivers and planning Australia's first naturalistic study of young novices. Both utilise instrumentation (e.g. multiple sensors, GPS, accelerometer, video) in participants' own vehicles and generate a wealth of data on normal driving. The PhD candidate will address research questions made possible by data mining this "big data": how often and why does risky behaviour occur but not result in crashes? What changes occur in novice driver performance in the first months of licensed driving that explain the initial rapid decrease in their (very high) crash risk? These studies will provide new information to inform strategies to improve road safety for experienced and novice drivers.

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The Impact of Technological Innovations on the Passenger Process.
Supervisory Panel: Prof Gabriel Lodewijks, Prof Ann Williamson, Dr Soufiane Boufous.

Over the last ten years significant technological innovations were introduced on airports. It started with self check-in systems where passengers can print their own boarding pass. Then self drop-off systems for dropping off baggage where introduced and the coming years will see the introduction of biometric based security systems in order to move to a seamless passenger process. The introduction of all these technological innovations had a significant impact on the passenger process, which is the process that starts when a passenger books a ticket up till the moment where passenger and luggage are reconciled. Another issue is that the renewed passenger process on one airport can be very different from another airport and can change relatively often. Where technology-savvy young passengers can deal with these technological changes and inconsistencies relatively easily, for elderly people, people with physical constraints, illiterates or people that seldom travel it may be very hard to adapt to the new equipment and changing procedures. In this project the impact of technological innovations on the passenger process will be studied from the perspective of the passenger. Where the innovations on airports normally are technologically driven, in this project the focus will be on a system approach focussed on usability and the passenger. The passenger process will be redesigned from the point of view of the passenger taking into account human physical and mental capacities and limitations and social backgrounds. Based on this redesign, technology will be proposed/designed that can execute this process and an analysis of required changes to the current systems will be identified.

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