Project Title: Developing robust variable stiffens robot actuators
Host Institution: Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia, European Union
Post Type: PhD candidate
Start Date: September 2017
End Date: September 2020
Constraints: open to all citizenships
Job Posting Reference: RoboCom++ TUT
Host Institution Description:
The Centre for Biorobotics is a team of international, young, skilled, and motivated researchers and engineers. We are seeking to expand our team with new members who share our interest in developing novel, unusual, risky technological ideas and applications inspired by and for understanding nature.
Our main goal is to design new ways of exploring the aquatic environment by capturing Nature “in the act”. Our previous work includes: a robot that uses flow-sensing inspired by fish lateral line sensing, an award-winning biomimetic sea turtle-inspired robot for aiding archaeologists in shipwreck exploration, and a fish robot to develop models of fish flow sensing and upriver migration patterns.
We value teamwork, but also leave plenty of room for creative independence, allowing researchers to work the way they prefer. Our team is very international and we welcome new members of all backgrounds who share similar interest and values.
Your goal will be to develop new kinds of adaptable soft actuators and their control to enhance the mobility of underwater and ground robots.
This topic is inspired by new trends in advanced robotics: soft robotics, morphological computing, and embodied intelligence. Based on these underlying ideas, you will investigate, develop and test new methods for designing variable stiffness soft robotic actuators for environments consisting of both solids and fluids. The material properties of the actuators as well as their methods of control, should adapt to environmental changes in the environment. For example: to the changes of the ambient fluid density and surface roughness while the robots move from water to air.
The nature of the work is largely experimental; computer simulations may be necessary for the design and testing of the controllers and mechanical design.
The position is open to students of all citizenships. Applicants are expected to have reasonable basic research experience and knowledge in both theoretical and experimental mechanics and mechatronics. Alternatively, a background in applied physics coupled with strong practical skills would also be considered.
The work will be carried out in Tallinn University of Technology Centre for Biorobotics (https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.biobotics.ee&d=DwIGaQ&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=dF0DQ8NKpb3vBtgWbUd4FjRO26S_RIEmUmQZTc_avrQ&s=GTbu2k_Z2EXbhbHZGfNn9t-oAqJtWb8hkY2wPvjxTgU&e= <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.biobotics.ee_&d=DwIGaQ&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=dF0DQ8NKpb3vBtgWbUd4FjRO26S_RIEmUmQZTc_avrQ&s=yPsAUeEMMdWtZi0AulTtulny2kTbOzwCnTM0pFrXr8s&e= >) in close cooperation and co-supervision with Biorobotics Institute of Sculoa Superiore Sant’Anna (Italy) and IIT Centre for Micro-Biorobotics under a European ERA-NET project RoboCom++, a Europe-wide project comprised of 24 partner institutions across Europe.
Background and Motivation
The PhD thesis is part of a large European Initiative RoboCom++ for developing transformative robotics. RoboCom++ will gather the community and organize the knowledge necessary to rethink the design principles and fabrication technologies of future robots. The mechatronic paradigm adopted today, although successful, may prevent a wider use of robotic systems. For example, system complexity increases with function, leading to high costs and power usage with decreasing robustness. RoboCom++ will pursue a radically new design paradigm, grounded in the scientific studies of intelligence in nature. This approach will create complex functionality with limited use of computing resources, mass and energy, with the aim of exploiting compliance instead of fighting it. Simplification mechanisms will be based on the concepts of embodied intelligence, morphological computation, simplexity as well as evolutionary and developmental approaches.
Aims and Objectives
The aim is to develop new methods for developing adaptive soft actuators for environmental exploration. Experimental demonstrations will be used to assess their performance and applicability for solving real-world tasks.
Main research tasks:
* Soft actuator development with variable morphology (geometry, material parameters).
* Design methods for novel soft actuators
* Build candidate actuator designs
* Control methods for the actuators, possibly with active sensing in the loop
* Systematic testing of the candidate actuator designs in simulations and in test environments
* Real-world applications and proof-of concept testing in the environment
* Validation of the developed solutions
Main responsibilities :
* Carrying out the research and publishing results on high quality journals and conferences
* Actively collaborating with research partners in Sculoa Superiore Sant’Anna
* Cooperation with partners in the RoboCom++ project
* Participating at Robocom ++ events
* International conference presentations
Outreach activities such as public seminars, journal clubs,…
Educational and/or Professional Qualifications: Degree and basic research experience in Mechanics, Mechatronics, Physics, Robotics, Computer Engineering or related fields. If you are good in one of those areas, we can back you up with the complementary expertise in our lab.
Skills: Practical skills in hardware and software engineering are a requirement. Good English language skills are essential. Knowledge of simulation tools (e.g. finante element methods)are desirable.
Personal Attributes: Your personal qualities must make it easy to work with people from other disciplines and nationalities. It is also important that you have an internal motivation to do good research and achieve your goals. While good team-working skills are essential, it is also important that you are able to define your own goals while taking responsibility for achieving them, work independently for some periods, be persistent if things do not work out immediately, and dare to ask for help if you are stuck.
Please send your CV, a motivation letter, and two recommendation letters to maarja.kruusmaa.ttu.ee. These materials should clearly show your qualifications and explain why you are applying for this position, and what you expect from the Centre for Biorobotics during your time with us.
Contact: [hidden email]
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