ORE Catapult: Evaluating the impact of motion travel on cognitive ability of offshore workers – a VR experience

Aura CDT Industry PhD Scholarships

ORE Catapult: Evaluating the impact of motion travel on cognitive ability of offshore workers - a VR experience

In partnership with Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, the Aura CDT is offering a cluster of 4-year taught and research industry-sponsored PhD scholarships. This PhD directly addresses sector needs to understand motion sickness effects on offshore technicians.

Working on offshore wind turbines can provide many challenges to the individual, not least a long boat journey out to the platforms. This can potentially induce nausea, light headedness and dizziness amongst other conditions, especially in rough weather conditions.

This project will look at measuring the impact of varying duration journeys in varying weather conditions through Virtual Reality and Motion System simulation. We will evaluate the effect that these journeys can have on short-term cognitive ability to undergo work tasks. This study will use measures such as the NASA-TLX (Task Load Index), a proven diagnostic tool for evaluating the task performance of an individual or team. Through this we can better understand the measures and conditions that impede performance. Utilising VR eye tracking technology we can also evaluate a participant’s gaze, eye saccades, focus and attention whilst on the journey from shore to their place of work.

Once there is an understanding of the impact the travel can have on short-term cognitive ability and performance, the project will look at techniques such as EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and other visual stimulus techniques that relate to the visual cues leading to disorientation and sickness.

The project would lead to a greater understanding of the impact of sea travel on performance, but also allow for VR solutions that could be utilised by workers as they travel to sites. Using VR technology such as the self-contained oculus quest, users would be able to don the headsets before beginning their journey, and through specifically tailored stimuli, it may be possible to counteract the effects of vessel motion.

The post is available from September 2020 as a full-time position. You will join Cohort 2 of the Aura CDT in Hull, in the heart of the UK’s Energy Estuary – the global centre for research, innovation and development for the sector. Initially, you will study for a Postgraduate Diploma in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment, followed by a 3-year PhD supported by ORE Catapult.

Instructions on How to Apply

Academic Supervisors

Prof John Murray         email: John.Murray@hull.ac.uk

Dr Fiona Earle               email: F.Earle@hull.ac.uk

Dr Peter Robinson        email: P.A.Robinson@hull.ac.uk

Dr Chris Skinner           email: C.Skinner@hull.ac.uk



This full-time ORE Catapult PhD Scholarship will include fees at the ‘Home/EU/International’ student rate and maintenance (£15,285 per annum, 2020/21 rate) for four years, depending on satisfactory progress.


Entry requirements

If you have received a First-class Honours degree or a 2:1 Honours degree and a Masters (or the international equivalents) in Computer Science, Psychology, Engineering, Geography / Geology, Medicine / Biology or associated subjects, we would like to hear from you.  If you are passionate about this research project and have a STEM / Social Science background you are very welcome to apply.

If your first language is not English, or you require Tier 4 student visa to study, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language proficiency level that meets the requirements of the Aura CDT’s academic partners. This course requires academic IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.0 in each skill.

Apply here