PhD-student: Smart Fluidic Circuits for Autonomous soft robots

Date posted December 22, 2020
Type PhD positions

 The use of soft materials in robot development has emerged as a way to increase the adaptability of robots and their safe interaction with humans. Although soft robots will likely never achieve the precision of the more traditional ‘rigid’ robots, their inherent adaptivity pushes state-of-the-art developments towards new medical applications such as rehabilitation and diagnostic devices, exoskeletons for gait assistance, and in vivo assist devices. However, despite exciting developments, there are still major challenges in the development of soft robots. In particular, existing electronic control, intelligence and power of soft robots is too bulky to be embedded, and the power efficiency of soft robots is extremely low.

Here, you will study ways to replace the electronics currently needed to control soft robots by dedicated soft fluidic circuits that will control and power the soft robot. You will e.g. work on embedding smart fluidic circuits that contain soft fluidic sensors, that interact with soft components that exhibit nonlinear mechanical behavior to allow for direct feedback with the environment. You will dive deeper in how to design such nonlinear components, but also look at the design and optimization of closed fluidic circuits to allow for specific and efficient behavior. The ultimate aim of this research is to ‘cut the tethers’, and to use such fluidic circuits to have soft robots perform tasks autonomously.

About the group

The Soft Robotic Matter group (See also: www.overvelde.com) 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 uses a combination of computational and experimental tools. This line of research 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. We provide a highly collaborative and supportive environment, both within the group and institute, and through national and international collaborations.

Qualifications

At the start of the PhD the candidate meets the requirements for an MSc-degree, to ensure eligibility for a Dutch PhD examination. The position is open to candidates from a range of backgrounds, including Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Science or a related field. The Soft Robotic Matter group is looking for a highly motivated candidate with a go-getter mentality. Preferably, the candidate has a strong theoretical background, in combination with a sound appetite for experimental work. Excellent verbal and written communication skills (in English) are essential.

Terms of employment

The position is intended as full-time (40 hours / week, 12 months / year) appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of four years, with a starting salary of € 2407 and a range of employment benefits. After successful completion of the PhD research a PhD degree will be granted at Eindhoven University of Technology. Several courses are offered, specially developed for PhD-students. AMOLF assists any new foreign PhD-student with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.

Contact info

Dr. ir. Bas Overvelde
Group leader Soft Robotic Matter
E-mail: overvelde@amolf.nl
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

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