Uiterste inschrijvingsdatum
Apr 15, 2023 00:00
TW08 - Vakgroep Elektromechanica, Systeem- en Metaalengineering
Type contract
Contract van bepaalde duur
M.Sc. in mechanical engineering or related engineering fields such as control & automation, robotics
Vacature type
Overig academisch personeel


We are seeking a highly motivated and talented PhD researcher in the field of mechanical and control engineering of robotics. Our goal is to bring collaborative robots (cobots) to the level of industrial robots that are far more performant at high speeds but lack safety and collision tolerance.
You will work on a cutting-edge fundamental research project funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) that pursues safe and collision-tolerant high-speed cobots. To realize compliance, this project will push the limits on the hardware level with the integration of clutched actuators and flexible links, as well as on the sensing and control side with model-based strategies. You are responsible to build high-speed multi-DOF articulated robot arms in which collisions can be effectively detected and mitigated using clutched actuators. You will investigate whether the collision forces can be decreased by quickly reducing the inertia with new detection and robot control strategies. Your research will be in collaboration with senior researchers within the research group and will be done together with researchers from the VUB R&MM research group.
You have a Master's degree in a relevant field, such as mechanical engineering, control and automation, robotics, electromechanical or mechatronics engineering. Ideally candidates have experience in hardware design and experimental skills as well as notions on robot modeling and control techniques, and will be able to demonstrate a strong understanding of these concepts before starting this position.
If you are passionate about conducting cutting-edge research in the field of robotic mechanical/control design, we encourage you to apply for this exciting opportunity.

Detailed job description
You will work on a fundamental research project funded by the FWO-Flanders.
Traditional caged industrial robots exhibit high speed performance, but do not allow safe and robust interaction with their environment. Their counterpart, collaborative robots (cobots), do allow safe interactions but lack the high performance. This project wants to bridge the gap between high-speed motion and collaboration with humans to address the ever-increasing demand for flexibility in production. To that end we want to design safe and collision-tolerant high-speed cobots. We will first push the working speed of cobots in collaborative mode with flexible links. Instead of considering classical rectangular shaped link designs, axisymmetric links will be studied, as they offer a far more interesting perspective on safety. To contain the undesired side-effects of the link flexibility we will investigate a strain-based control strategy. Secondly, we will push the collision tolerance of today’s high-speed caged robots. We want to protect multi-DOF articulated robot arms by designing overload clutches that allow to rapidly reduce the inertia of the moving robot. This, together with collision detection algorithms. Finally, we will integrate the flexible links and overload clutches to build hybrid high-speed collaborative robots. The new robots will be benchmarked against existing state-of-the-art robots/cobots in terms of speed, collision tolerance and safety, both numerically and experimentally.
In the past years our research group has accumulated critical expertise and laboratory infrastructure to support this PhD.

Starting date: 1/09/2023

You will be responsible for

  • conducting research into mechanical robot design and control
  • developing new collision models and methods for detecting collisions
  • developing new robot control methods to handle collisions
  • presenting your research at conferences and in journals
  • cooperating with researchers active within the research group and outside


We look for a highly motivated and talented individual with at least some background in mechanical engineering, having knowledge in robotic applications and has modeling and control experience.. You are quick-witted, have an appetite for the theoretical and experimental, and willing to apply and/or improve your programming skills.

  • You hold a M.Sc. in mechanical engineering or related engineering fields such as control & automation, robotics.
  • You have proven experience with the control, modelling and simulation of mechatronic & robotic systems.
  • You have proven experience in Python and/or MATLAB.
  • You have experience in or understanding of robot hardware and software.
  • You have a team player mindset, a strong personality and work in a result-oriented manner.
  • You are creative and willing to work in a multidisciplinary context.
  • You are proficient in oral and written English and have strong communication skills.
  • You are willing to extend your network and able to talk on technical matters.


Send your CV, containing 1 or more references and a motivation letter to Frederik Ostyn ( and professor Guillaume Crevecoeur ( including ‘ROBOTICS PHD’ in the email subject before Saturday 15/04/2023. If you pass the pre-selection, you will receive further instructions on the selection process and will be invited for an online job interview.