PhD Position: Robust and Adaptive Control of Wearable Robotic Exoskeletons in Face of Uncertainty

PhD Position: Robust and Adaptive Control of Wearable Robotic Exoskeletons in Face of Uncertainty

Published Deadline Location
14 Jan 26 Feb Enschede

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Job description

The challenge

Exoskeletons are wearable robots that assist human standing and walking. Such devices provide support to people who have sensory and motor disorders due to spinal cord injury. Due to limitations in currently used controllers for exoskeletons, like trajectory playback, users still need crutches at all times to maintain their balance and ensure their safety.

The goal of this project is to develop a robust model-based force controller that achieves human-like balance and walking without needing crutches. However, whether such a controller would always be stable in the face of uncertainty in both the exoskeleton, user and environment, is unknown. The user's weight changes every day, user joint stiffness depends on temperature or on the progression of the motor disorder. The location and stiffness of the floor might be uncertain and change significantly during use; an indoor surface could be hard but slippery, while a grassy field can be soft. We want to develop provably robust controllers that are able to take all these variations into account.

Job description

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate to strengthen our research group. You will work in a multidisciplinary setting to bring together aspects from robust control, rigid and flexible body mechanics, machine learning and simulation. Specifically you will 1) investigate the stability and performance of new and state-of-the art exoskeleton control methods; 2) propose novel methods for synthesizing customized controllers with adaptable robustness; 3) improve our fundamental view of control of human-robot interactions from a robust control perspective.

We aim to participate in the Cybathlon 2024 Exoskeleton race. Because your work will focus on the robust balance control of the used exoskeleton, we expect you to join our Cybathlon team as one of the control software developers!


University of Twente (UT)


  • A MSc degree in either Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Systems and Control, Biomedical Engineering (specialized in robotics) or a related field;
  • Good knowledge of 3D dynamics and control and systems theory, preferably with some background in robust controller synthesis or control of humanoid robots;
  • An analytical and critical thinker, with an eye for detail;
  • Passionate about learning new concepts and doing original research;
  • A high degree of responsibility and independence, able to collaborate and connect with colleagues, researchers, and other university staff;
  • Proficient in written and spoken English.

Conditions of employment

The UT provides a dynamic and international environment, combining the benefits of academic research with a topic of high 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 the Twente Graduate School and Dutch Institute for Systems and Control (DISC);
  • A starting salary of €2.443,- gross per month in the first year and a salary of €3.122,- gross per month in the fourth year;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • Minimum of 29 holidays per year in case of fulltime employment;
  • Full status as an employee at the UT, including pension and health care benefits.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2443—€3122 per month
  • University graduate
  • 373


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522NB, Enschede

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