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The use of soft materials in robot development has emerged as a way to increase the adaptability of robots and their safe interaction with humans. Although soft robots will likely never achieve the precision of the more traditional ‘rigid’ robots, their inherent adaptivity pushes state-of-the-art developments towards new medical applications such as rehabilitation and diagnostic devices, exoskeletons for gait assistance, and in vivo assist devices. However, despite exciting developments, there are still major challenges in the development of soft robots. In particular, existing electronic control, intelligence and power of soft robots is too bulky to be embedded, and the power efficiency of soft robots is extremely low.
Within this project, you will study ways to replace the electronics currently needed to control soft robots by dedicated soft fluidic circuits that will control and power the soft robot. You will work on embedding smart fluidic circuits that contain soft fluidic sensors, and that harness nonlinear mechanics to allow for direct feedback with the environment. The ultimate aim of this research is to ‘cut the tethers’, and to use such fluidic circuits to have soft robots perform tasks autonomously. The precise topics covered during the project are flexible and depend on your background, and can range from fabrication to numerical analysis and inverse design.
We welcome applications from highly motivated candidates with a strong background in preferably soft robotics or mechanical metamaterials, while other backgrounds are also considered given sufficient motivation. We are looking for candidates with a go-getter and collaborative mentality in combination with a sound appetite for a combination between experimental and numerical/theoretical work. You need to meet the requirements for a doctors-degree and preferably have research experience in a non-Dutch academic environment.
The position is intended as full-time (40 hours / week, 12 months / year) appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of 2 years (with a possibility to extend to 3 years), with a salary in scale 10 (CAO-OI) and a range of employment benefits. AMOLF assists any new foreign Postdoc with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.
The Soft Robotic Matter group (See also: www.overvelde.com) focuses on the design, fabrication and fundamental understanding of materials that are capable of autonomously adapting to – and even harnessing – variations in their environment. We aim to uncover principles that help us understand how non-linearity and feedback can result in the emergence of complex – but useful – behaviour in soft actuated systems. To this end, the Soft Robotic Matter group uses a combination of computational and experimental tools. This line of research combines concepts from soft robotics and architected materials, providing new and exciting opportunities in the design of compliant structures and devices with highly non-linear behaviour. We provide a highly collaborative and supportive environment, both within the group and institute, and through national and international collaborations.
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