Internship: Soft fluidic sensors for autonomous soft robots

Date posted October 30, 2023
Type Scientific Internships

The Soft Robotic Matter group at AMOLF is looking for an interns at the Master’s level from a range of backgrounds (including Physics, Mathematics and Engineering) that will work on the design exploration of (non-linear) fluidic sensors for untethered soft robots.

Soft robotics is a relatively new research field that aims to realize a new generation of robots and machines with so-called embodied intelligence. In traditional robots, achieving safe and “natural” interaction with humans or the environment is complicated due to their intrinsic rigidity, and it mainly relies on control software and on-board electronics. Soft robots take an alternative approach by harnessing their intrinsic compliance, similar to, e.g., an octopus that is able to mechanically adapt to its environment and interact with a variety of objects and animals. Such mechanical intelligence is often found in nature and drives researchers in finding novel design principles for the next generation of robots.

A specific type of soft robots are powered pneumatically. One of the major drawbacks in these pneumatic soft robots is their control, which still relies on rigid and bulky components such as rigid pumps, valves and sensors. This requirement limits the autonomy of soft robots. To address this problem, we are researching novel ways to control soft robots without the need for electronics and rigid components, relying entirely on fluids and (non-linear) mechanics of structural components embedded in the flow. To do so, among other approaches, we are focusing on soft fluidic sensors that provide feedback to the robot upon interaction with humans or the environment. As a result, the intelligence of the robot would derive from its own soft structure and internal fluid flows, without relying on any electronics. Providing electronics-free feedback capabilities to soft robots is an essential step towards the goal of creating fully autonomous soft robots, for applications such as exploration of unknown environments, search and rescue, bio-medical devices and more.

This internship will focus on the fluidic sensor design and the understanding of its working principle. The specific kind of work can vary and depends on the student’s interest and background. Potential projects could be related to a combination of  (inverse) design explorations, manufacturing of prototypes and experiments, Finite Element Analysis or mathematical modelling with a lumped parameters approach (reduced-order system of differential equations).

About the group

The Soft Robotic Matter group focuses on the design, fabrication and fundamental understanding of materials that are capable of autonomously adapting to – and even harnessing – variations in their environment. We aim to uncover principles that help us understand how non-linearity and feedback can result in the emergence of complex – but useful – behaviour in soft actuated systems. To this end, the Soft Robotic Matter group explores active and sensing elements to implement feedback capabilities and computation in soft architected materials, and uses a combination of computational, experimental and analytical tools. This line of research uniquely combines concepts from soft robotics and architected materials, providing new and exciting opportunities in the design of compliant structures and devices with highly non-linear behaviour. See also:


The internship is open to Master’s degree candidates from a range of backgrounds, including Engineering, Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics or a related field. The Soft Robotic Matter group is looking for a highly motivated candidate with a go-getter mentality and team spirit. Excellent verbal and written communication skills (in English) are essential. The internship must be a mandatory part of your curriculum. You have a nationality of an EU-member state and/or you are a student at a Netherlands University. Please note: As of January 2021 the UK is no longer an EU member state. You must be available for preferably more than 6 months.

Terms of employment

At the start of the traineeship your trainee plan will be set out, in consultation with your AMOLF supervisor.

Contact info

Dr. ir. Bas Overvelde
Group leader Soft Robotic Matter
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

You can respond to this vacancy online via the button below.
Please annex your:
–  One-page motivation letter;
–  Resume;
–  List of followed courses plus grades.

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis and as soon as an excellent match is made, the position will be filled.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

AMOLF is highly committed to an inclusive and diverse work environment. Hence, we greatly encourage candidates from any personal background and perspective to apply.

Commercial activities in response to this ad are not appreciated.