Taming the complexity of robotics software under runtime uncertainty

Taming the complexity of robotics software under runtime uncertainty

Published Deadline Location
14 Oct 10 Nov Amsterdam

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Would you like to build the next generation of smart robotics software that can deal with the uncertainty present in its runtime environment by adapting itself? Are you passionate about the intersection of software engineering and robotics? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam for this joint position in collaboration with Delft University of Technology.

Job description

Much of the robotics software is still developed in an ad-hoc manner, leading to code that is hard to evolve and robotic systems that we cannot rely on. There is a need for developing robotics software with architecture-based adaptability as a first-class concern, i.e. by ensuring that important non-functional properties such as reliability, safety, performance, and energy efficiency can be continuously met, even in complex and unpredictable runtime environments. This PhD project will aim to answer the research question of how to build robotics software that is able to ensure its non-functional requirements despite the uncertainty present in complex runtime environments. As part of the project, novel self-adaptation approaches for robotics software based on architectural tactics will be developed, integrated, and evaluated. The project will also investigate how to incorporate models of the robotic runtime uncertainty in self-adaptation architectural tactics. The impact of the proposed development process and the self-adaptation tactics will be evaluated in different robotic cases studies.

Your duties
  • Perform research on adaptation tactics for robotics, from the identification of such tactics to their integration into the robotics software and their evaluation, and in architecture-based self-adaptation in robotics software in general
  • Publish scientific articles and present research results at international conferences and journals
  • Contribute to teaching and supervising activities (e.g., supervision of MSc and BSc students)


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • A Master’s degree in Software Engineering, Computer Science, Robotics or related disciplines
  • Strong motivation for scientific research in the areas of software engineering and robotics
  • (preferred) Strong background in software architecture and related practices and paradigms
  • (preferred) Experience with the robotics software ecosystem (ROS)
  • Good communication, organizational and social skills

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 18 months.

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,434 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,111 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1,5 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance
  • 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package


The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

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.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.
About the department, institute, project
The VU Department of Computer Science has approximately 170 staff members, including 35 tenured staff and 40-50 PhD students. Lecturers form a critical and essential basis for the functioning of the department, providing foundational education that helps determine the future of our students.

Our research and our students are diverse, covering disciplines such as Social sciences, Humanities, Economics, and Bioinformatics. Currently, we offer programs in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Information Sciences (BSc and MSc), and Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (MSc), with a total of around 1000 new students each year.

The position is a collaboration between the Software and Sustainability research group at VU Amsterdam, which is responsible for research and teaching on various topics of software engineering, software architecture and sustainability; and the Cognitive Robotics group at TU Delft, which is responsible for research in robotics.

About Delft University of Technology and the Cognitive Robotics department
Delft University of Technology is the Netherland’s oldest and largest technical university. It is a multifaceted institution offering education and carrying out research in the technical sciences at an internationally recognised level. Education, research and design are strongly oriented towards applicability. TU Delft develops technologies for future generations, focusing on sustainability, safety and economic vitality. At TU Delft you will work in an environment where technical sciences and society converge. TU Delft comprises eight faculties, unique laboratories, research institutes and schools.

The Cognitive Robotics Department of TU Delft, at the faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering (3mE), focuses on the development of intelligent robots and vehicles that will advance mobility, productivity and quality of life. Our mission is to bring robotic solutions to human-inhabited environments, focusing on research in the areas of autonomous robots, machine perception, motion planning and control, machine learning, automatic control and physical interaction of intelligent machines with humans. We combine fundamental research with work on physical demonstrators in areas such as self-driving vehicles, collaborative industrial robots, mobile manipulators and haptic interfaces. Strong collaborations exist with cross-faculty institutes TU Delft Robotics Institute, our national robotic ecosystem (RoboValley, Holland Robotics) and international industry and academia (ROS-Industrial consortium).


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2434—€3111 per month
  • University graduate
  • 8409


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV, Amsterdam

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