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PhD on Visuotactile perception for robot manipulation

PhD on Visuotactile perception for robot manipulation

Mechanical Engineering
Instituten en overigen
EAISI - Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute


Visual robot perception has grown tremendously in the last ten years. More and more, artificial neural networks allow to reliably classify objects and segment structures from RGB images. Moreover, they allow for 3D pose estimation for robot manipulation and navigation in partially structured and even unstructured dynamic environments. However, vision alone is not sufficient for manipulation. Versatile interaction with unstructured environments requires a new generation of robots fully exploiting also touch and proprioception (the perception of own movement and associated effort). Combining complementary touch and vision information leads to a better world interpretation. Touch allows for 3D modeling of unseen parts of the environment as well as object mass, inertia, and friction estimation. Combining visuotactile sensing with memory and cognition will improve robot decision making, bringing a robotic arm’s motions and behaviour closer to human manipulation capabilities. 

This project is sponsored by the Eindhoven AI Systems Institute (EAISI). 

I.Touch2See Project
The project I.Touch2See involves four departments of the TU/e (Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science, and Industrial Engineering & Innoviation Sciences), collaborating to develop groundbreaking robotics technologies to improve robotic perception for manipulation in unstructured enviroments. The PhD student will have ample opportunities for interaction within the project’s principal investigators and the other
2 PhD students involved in the project and may also contribute/collaborate to other robotics projects currently running at TU/e and its partners (e.g., the I.AM. H2020 EU project

Your duties
As a PhD researcher from dynamics and control section, within the robotics and perception group, you will focus on developing and implementing visual and touch perception algorithms to extra 6D pose, shape, occupancy, friction, weight, stiffness information of unknown or partially known objects in the scene. This knowledge you will then integrate with artificial skin and cognition and memory modules developed in collaboration with the two fellow PhD researchers in your team.

Your job will be to reflect and capitalize on findings from ongoing studies at the TU/e on the application of model-based and data-driven approaches for robot-environment physical interaction, including impacts. More specifically, your main tasks will be:

  • Continuously update a detailed literature review of deformable and soft object shape and pose reconstruction from RGB(D) and stereo camera images; estimation of friction and dynamic object properties from force/torque and artificial skin sensors; robot control and perception for physical interaction with rigid and deformable objects;
  • Dissemination of the results of your research in international and peer-reviewed journals and conferences; 
  • Pro-actively enabling the collaboration between the involved disciplines; 
  • Writing a successful dissertation based on the developed research and defending it; 
  • Assume educational tasks like the supervision of Master students and internships;


We are looking for a candidate who meets the following requirements:

  • You are a talented and enthusiastic young researcher.
  • You have experience with or a strong background in applied mathematics, physics, computer vision and ideally also (robot) dynamics and control. Preferably, you finished a Master’s program in (Applied) Mathematics, (Applied) Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Robotics, Systems and Control, Information Technologies, or Electrical Engineering; 
  • Experimental robotics and computer-vision training/experience will be extremely valued, together with demonsteted solid/strong mathematical skills;
  • Candidates with demonstrated low-level / high-level computer programming experince (C++, Python, MATLAB) are sought; the candidate will be required to develop high standard coding skills needed to carry out teir project.
  • You have good commmunication skills and the attitude to participate successfully in the work of a research team;
  • You are creative, ambitious, organized, and persistent;
  • You have good command of the English language (knowledge of Dutch is not required).


  • A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university with the possibility to present your work at international conferences.
  • A full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months.
  • To develop your teaching skills, you will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • To support you during your PhD and to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will make a Training and Supervision plan and you will have free access to a personal development program for PhD students (PROOF program).
  • A gross monthly salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities.
  • Additionally, an annual holiday allowance of 8% of the yearly salary, plus a year-end allowance of 8.3% of the annual salary.
  • Should you come from abroad and comply with certain conditions, you can make use of the so-called ‘30% facility’, which permits you not to pay tax on 30% of your salary.
  • A broad package of fringe benefits, including an excellent technical infrastructure, moving expenses, and savings schemes.
  • Family-friendly initiatives are in place, such as an international spouse program, and excellent on-campus children day care and sports facilities.

Informatie en sollicitatie

The Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute (EAISI) was established in the summer of 2019 as a cross-departmental institute that brings together all AI activities of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). EAISI stimulates, supports, and organizes collaboration between TU/e AI researchers and companies and societal partners. EAISI’s goal is to stimulate multidisciplinary AI research on the combination of three of TU/e’s traditionally strong research domains of Data Science, Humans and Ethics, and Engineering Systems. EAISI aims to develop AI technology for autonomous decision-making in engineering systems that interact with and support humans. Working for EAISI means you are supported in creating new and exciting AI applications with a direct and positive impact on the real world, especially focusing on the application areas of health, mobility and high-tech industry.

Located in the Brainport region, which attracts 40% of all Dutch spending on research and development, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is one of Europe's leading research universities, and part of the prestigious EuroTech Universities Alliance ( TU/e offers graduate engineering programs and post-graduate technological design, PhD and teacher-training programs. The mission is to educate students to become leading industrial professionals and academic scientists, and to generate and valorize ground breaking scientific knowledge, by building and supporting the industrial activities in the region and far beyond.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

More information
If you would like know more about the positions, please contact dr. Alessandro Saccon, a.saccon[at] or dr. Andrei Jalba a.c.jalba[at] Further information about the employment conditions can be found here.

We invite you to submit a complete application by using the 'apply now'-button on this page.
The application should include:

  • a cover letter explaining your motivation and suitability for the position
  • a list of courses and grades from your Master's programme
  • a curriculum vitae      
  • a scientific report in English, written by yourself (e.g. MSc thesis, traineeship report or scientific paper)
  • a piece of software code that you wrote as an example of your coding skills
  • copies of diplomas with course grades (transcripts)
  • two references (name, affiliation, and contact information) who are willing to provide letters of reference

Both national and international applications to this advertisement are appreciated. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Promising candidates will be contacted by email.

We do not respond to applications that are sent to us in a different way.

Please keep in mind you can upload only 5 documents up to 2 MB each. If necessary please combine files.