Scientific Internship: 3D printing of soft robots with embedded smart fluidic circuits

Date posted August 19, 2021
Type Scientific Internships

The Soft Robotic Matter group at AMOLF is looking for research interns at the Master’s level from a range of backgrounds (Engineering, Physics, Materials Science) that will work on 3D printing of soft robotic systems with smart fluidic circuits. Soft robots with pneumatically driven actuators are more adaptable to the environment and allow safer human-robot interactions compared to conventional robots made from rigid materials. Current soft robots with pneumatic actuators are often tethered to external power and control, limiting the robots’ adaptability in complex environments. On-board power and control strategies have recently emerged, e.g., using chemical pressure generators and smart fluidic circuits that are embedded in the soft robot. The aim is to make the soft robots fully autonomous and electronics-free, where the capability of getting feedback from the environment is indispensable in the next generation of soft robots with increased intelligence.

The full integration of power, control, actuation, and sensing units in soft robots poses a great challenge in manufacturing. Molding of silicone elastomer becomes insufficient when it comes to the fabrication of soft autonomous robot with complex fluidic circuits between power, control, actuation, and sensing units. Previous experiments in the Soft Robotic Matter group with direct-write 3D printing of silicone elastomer show great potential for soft robots with smart fluidic circuits. We seek to further take advantage of this tool to explore new designs and manufacturing possibilities of soft robotic components. New power, control, and sensing strategies for soft pneumatic robots will be investigated based on 3D printing of multifunctional materials, fluidic tests and design optimization. Experimental testing, analytical and/or numerical modeling will be conducted to facilitate the fundamental understanding of the newly developed strategies. Finally, we aim to use direct-write 3D printing to integrate different soft robotic components on a fully soft, autonomous robot that can respond to the environments.

The internship focuses on the development and understanding of 3D-printed soft robotic components with smart fluidic circuits. Potential topics could be related to any of the power, control, actuation, and sensing components of soft robots, depending on the student’s background and interest.

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: www.overvelde.com.

Qualifications

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
E-mail: overvelde@amolf.nl
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.

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