Population growth, climate change, resource depletion and soil degradation are placing huge challenges on agriculture. One way to alleviate these problems could be to increase the degree to which robots are used in agricultural settings. Rigid robotic sensing and actuation for repeatable tasks in industrial settings is well-developed, but applying robotics in agriculture remains challenging, because fruits and vegetables damage easily, and agricultural environments are unstructured. Soft robots could be a solution, since they are naturally suited to replicate the soft touch that humans normally use to for instance harvest a raspberry. Moreover, their soft structure creates an inherent adaptability to for instance fruits with different sizes. However, soft force sensors still perform much worse than rigid force sensors do.
In this PhD project, you will explore two related approaches to enhance soft sensor performance: co-design of sensors&actuators and active sensing. For robotic design, the measurement principle of the sensor is taken as the starting point, and then the actuator is co-designed to optimize the functionality of the sensor. For control, active sensing strategies, in which the sensor is intentionally moved around to gather data, will be used to continuously update the robot’s movements to collect the most useful data. The final goal is to run field experiments with real autonomous robots.
You will become a member of the Robotics research line of the Control Systems Technology section within the Mechanical Engineering department of the TU/e. This project will also be part of the HTSF Green Sensor Program, which is a collaboration of the 4 technical universities of the Netherlands. Furthermore, you will be a part of the Reshape lab, which has state-of-the art facilities for manufacturing and testing of soft robots.
Within the project, there is a lot of room for your personal input. Some of the techniques that will probably be part of the project are:
A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:
Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands-on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow.
Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more?
Please contact the hiring manager dr. Femke van Beek, Assistant Professor, f.e.van.beek[at]tue.nl.
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We invite you to submit a complete application by using the apply button.
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We look forward to receiving your application and will screen it as soon as possible. The vacancy will remain open until the position is filled.