PhD position: Compliant Aerial Robots for Physical Interaction in Challenging Environments

PhD position: Compliant Aerial Robots for Physical Interaction in Challenging Environments

Published Deadline Location
7 Mar 16 Apr Delft

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Job description

With a decade-long research efforts in the field of aerial manipulation, it is evident how compliance plays a key role for safety and robustness in aerial interaction tasks. Often implemented in software in the form of impedance/admittance controllers, hardware compliance has had secondary importance in the design of aerial robotic solutions for physical interaction tasks. However, exploiting passivity and compliance in the body can offset the control complexity and favour real-time responses to dynamic stimuli.

In this project, you will leverage the design of novel compliant limbs paired with centralised control approaches to improve drones’ autonomy in aerial tasks. Compliance will be implemented in the drone’s morphology via the use of articulation, parallel mechanisms, novel actuator designs, soft materials, or bio-inspired motion principles. The goal of the project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of mechanical compliance for dynamic aerial interaction tasks. 


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


Your qualifications:

  • M.Sc. degree from a top-tier University in the field of Robotics, Mechatronics, Mechanical Engineering.
  • Experience in hardware design and rapid-prototyping.
  • Experience in software engineering tools and programming languages (e.g., C/C++ and Python).
  • Excellent written and spoken English.
  • Independent approach to work in Research demonstrated by self-led projects.
  • An affinity with teaching and guiding students.
  • Experience in Robot Operating System (ROS) is a plus.
  • Hands-on experience with flight controllers or drones is a plus.

Besides research achievements, the successful candidate will show an active interest in education and will support in teaching duties during the PhD duration.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1.5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2.5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Adviceto assist you with your relocation.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Aerospace Engineering

The current team at the BioMorphic Intelligence Lab has 5 PhD students guided by Dr. Salua Hamaza. The overarching challenges in the team concern design and control of compliant drones for a variety of interaction tasks in different environments. The team is very diversified in gender, ethnicities, and scientific skills. The successful candidate will show an active interest in team building, and will display creativity and initiative in promoting the lab’s line of research and growing impact.

The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology is one of the world’s most highly ranked (and most comprehensive) research, education and innovation communities devoted entirely to aerospace engineering. More than 200 science staff, around 270 PhD candidates andclose to 3000 BSc and MSc students apply aerospace engineering disciplines to address the global societal challenges that threaten us today, climate change without doubt being the most important. Our focal subjects: sustainable aerospace, big data and artificial intelligence, bio-inspired engineering and smart instruments and systems. Working at the faculty means working together. With partners in other faculties, knowledge institutes, governmentsand industry, both aerospace and non-aerospace. Working in field labs and innovation hubs on our university campus and beyond. 

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03596


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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