PhD Position: Dynamics and control of interacting flexible robots

University of Twente


January 30, 2022


Job description

Are you interested in the dynamics and control of flexible robots for safe interaction? The Precision Engineering lab is currently seeking a PhD student on this topic! The goal of this 4-year project is to create control systems for flexible robots to interact with their environment and humans, in a deterministic and safe way.

The precision engineering group is part of the Department Mechanics of Solids, Surfaces & Systems (MS3) of the faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) and we participate in the new Robotics Centre at the University of Twente. We generate fundamental knowledge and translate this knowledge into solutions for multidisciplinary technical problems. The industrial and societal relevance of the research is secured by close collaboration with industry and the public sector.

The Challenge

Classically robots are used for industrial production in a well-defined environment and separated from humans. Future robots will operate in unstructured environments in industrial, agricultural, medical, or even domestic settings, where they might interact with humans. These robots should be aware of their surroundings and provide safe interaction. This requires robots to be more flexible, both from their mechanics as well as their control systems.

The Precision Engineering group is experienced in deterministic compliant mechanisms for applications in the high-tech industry. These mechanisms are potentially very suited for controlled interaction; the mechanical compliance is beneficial for safe passive interaction, while the deterministic behavior enables predictable interaction and environmental awareness. We use advanced in-house developed software is to efficiently predict and optimize the nonlinear flexible multibody mechanics of the compliant mechanisms. This software is also suited for control design. Besides the aforementioned expertise of the group, the research can also benefit from the expertise on human-robot interaction for haptic telemanipulation, rehabilitation and surgery in other groups participating in the Robotics Centre.

This project strives to develop control systems for deterministic and safe interaction, exploiting the benefits of compliant mechanisms and the available flexible multibody software. It is envisioned that the research results can be used to build robots for society, for example high-speed robots collaborating with humans or flexure-based grippers handling delicate agricultural products.

Please note that this vacancy is open to female scientists only. This is part of the University of Twente's strategy to increase the proportion of women among its faculty and to create a working environment that is diverse and inclusive and supportive of excellence in research and teaching.

Your profile
  • A master's degree in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Robotics, Mechatronics, Control Engineering or a related discipline;
  • Knowledge on control system design or multibody modelling, where knowledge on both is highly appreciated
  • An academic mind-set, analytic and driven by curiosity.
  • Ability to work independently, while being part of a research team
  • Taking ownership for your research
  • Proficiency in English and ability to express yourself easily in speech and in writing.
  • Our offer

    The UT provides a dynamic and international environment, combining the benefits of academic research with a topic of high societal and industrial relevance, excellent working conditions, an exciting scientific environment, and a green and lively campus. We offer:

  • A full-time 4-year PhD position;
  • Excellent mentorship and a stimulating international research environment with excellent facilities;
  • A professional and personal development program within Graduate School Twente;
  • A starting salary of € 2.443 gross per month in the first year and a salary of €3.122 in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 29 holidays per year in case of fulltime employment.
  • Information and application

    Please submit your application before January, 30th 2022 by using the “Apply now” button. Applications should at least include the following:

  • Letter of motivation and/or research interest.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • List, with grades, of courses from both Bachelor's and Master's degrees.
  • References and, if applicable, a list of publications.
  • For more information, please contact dr. ir. Wouter B.J. Hakvoort (

    A Game-Based assessment will be also part of the selection procedure.

    About the organization

    The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) engages in education and research Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering with a view to enabling society and industry to innovate and create value using sound, efficient and sustainable technology. We are part of a ‘people- first' university of technology, taking our place as an internationally leading centre for smart production, processes and devices in five domains: Health Technology, Maintenance, Smart Regions, Smart Industry and Sustainable Resources. Our faculty is home to some 1,800 Bachelor's and Master's students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates and offers three degree programmes: Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our educational and research programme are closely connected with UT research institutes Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

    University of Twente (UT)

    University of Twente (UT) has entered the new decade with an ambitious, new vision, mission and strategy. As ‘the ultimate people-first university of technology' we are rapidly expanding on our High Tech Human Touch philosophy and the unique role it affords us in society. Everything we do is aimed at maximum impact on people, society and connections through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We want to contribute to the development of a fair, digital and sustainable society through our open, inclusive and entrepreneurial attitude. This attitude permeates everything we do and is present in every one of UT's departments and faculties. Building on our rich legacy in merging technical and social sciences, we focus on five distinguishing research domains: Improving healthcare by personalised technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

    As an employer, University of Twente offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With us, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customisable conditions.

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