TU Delft

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Originele vacaturetekst

Postdoc Soft robotics, data-driven automatic design, and biomechanics

Job description

Many tasks in industrial environments require repeating the same class of movements for hours. This is very demanding on the workers, and may result in mental and physical illness. Examples are packaging, assembly, and harvesting. Instead of substituting the human with a robot, we believe that a more convenient, cost-effective, and ethical solution is to augment workers. Our long-term vision is to enhance the human body through a Symbiotic Suit, which is worn to improve performance and reduce metabolic energy consumption while performing periodic tasks. The suit will embed artificial tendons to be connected in parallel to natural ones, and include sensors and mechanisms for naturally adjusting tendon stiffness. They will be implemented with one or more passive elastic elements with either constant or variable stiffness, connected between multiple anchor points on clothing that transmit forces to the human body and underlying skeleton.

You will develop data-driven modeling, control, and optimization techniques to determine the custom interconnection points and optimal mechanical characteristics of elastic elements of a wearable robotic suit to enable a repetitive task to be executed with greater efficiency. This requires optimizing the topology and stiffness of artificial viscoelastic elements. Data-driven (deep learning, evolutionary algorithms) and biomechanical modeling techniques will have to be opportunely merged to achieve this ambitious goal. The outputs of this project will be first tested in enhancing the capabilities of robots, and then applied to humans. We will first evaluate results in simulation by using sophisticated dynamical models where we will test the theoretical underpinnings of this project.

For this project, you will collaborate with researchers from two departments at the faculty of 3mE, namely Cognitive Robotics (CoR) and BioMechanical Engineering (BME).


You have a PhD degree (or close to finish) in robotics, biomechanics, applied mathematics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, or a related subject. You must have strong analytical skills and must be able to work at the intersection of several research domains.
The project is at the intersection of Evolutionary Robotics, Nonlinear Optimization, Deep Learning, and Musculoskeletal and Multi-body Dynamics. Consequently, research experience in one of these fields and at least a basic understanding of the others is mandatory. Experience with real robot applications, human movement experiments, soft robotics, and/or advanced optimization methods are a plus.
You must have demonstrated ability to conduct high-quality research according to international standards, as demonstrated by publications in international, high-quality journals. Excellent verbal and written English communication skills are required.

Conditions of employment

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (salary indication € 3.491 - € 4.402 per month).
The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation. An International Children's Centre offers childcare and there is an international primary school.

This postdoc position has a fixed-term contract of 1 year, with a possible extension up to a maximum of 12 months.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

The Faculty of 3mE carries out pioneering research, leading to new fundamental insights and challenging applications in the field of mechanical engineering. From large-scale energy storage, medical instruments, control technology and robotics to smart materials, nanoscale structures and autonomous ships. The foundations and results of this research are reflected in outstanding, contemporary education, inspiring students and PhD candidates to become socially engaged and responsible engineers and scientists. The faculty of 3mE is a dynamic and innovative faculty with an international scope and high-tech lab facilities. Research and education focus on the design, manufacture, application and modification of products, materials, processes and mechanical devices, contributing to the development and growth of a sustainable society, as well as prosperity and welfare.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering. Do you want to experience working at our faculty? This video will introduce you to some of our researchers and their work.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Cosimo Della Santina, Assistant Professor (email: C.DellaSantina@tudelft.nl), and Ajay Seth, Assistant Professor (email: A.Seth@tudelft.nl).

For information about the selection procedure, please contact Hilma Bleeker, HR advisor, email: application-3mE@tudelft.nl.

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply by May 31, 2021 via the application button and upload:

  • a letter of motivation explaining why you are the right candidate for this project,
  • a detailed CV,
  • electronic copies of your top three publications,
  • a list of projects you have worked on with brief descriptions of your contributions (max 2 pages),
  • a summary of your PhD thesis,
  • the names and contact addresses of two or three references,
  • transcripts of all exams taken during your PhD study.

The position is available immediately, the latest possible starting date is September 2021.

A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.

Please apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.

Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

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