Postdoc in active perception and control of soft agricultural robotics

Postdoc in active perception and control of soft agricultural robotics

Published Deadline Location
9 Oct 22 Oct Wageningen

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Job description

Are you that motivated researcher holding a PhD in robotics who wants to help our team to take the next step in improving the level of automation and sustainability in agriculture?

The goal in this project is a robot that autonomously harvests fruits in a greenhouse. The robot needs to perceive and act in a complex, semi-controlled and semi-structured environment. In order not to damage the plants and fruits, the robot will be soft and compliant, requiring closed-loop, adaptive control to deal with the uncertain interactions of the robot with the natural environment.

The research challenge
Generally speaking, existing systems are developed along the traditional 'sense-think-act' paradigm, largely ignoring the physical interactions of the robot with the complex and vulnerable greenhouse environment. In this project, you will work together with researchers from other Dutch universities, who will develop soft and compliant robotic hardware. Your focus will be on the "soft" and adaptive control of the system, including closed-loop visual and tactile control to deal with the high levels of uncertainty, active perception to deal with the complex environment and self-supervised learning to continuously adapt to the uncontrolled environment.

The Soft Robotics program
Robots that will daily operate in human and biological environments will need a 'soft touch'. The robots that we know from industrial production are extremely precise and fast, but also very rigid. For physical and safe contact with people and for handling delicate food products, soft and compliant systems are needed. The "Soft Robotics" program has chosen a nature-inspired approach, e.g., by studying the soft but firm grip of a tree frog to inspire the design and control of a soft gripper. By combining the expertise of the different partners, the program offers a strong inter-disciplinary team that will advance the field of soft robotics. The program is a collaboration between all four Dutch Technical Universities: University of Twente, Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology and Wageningen University and Research.


Wageningen University & Research


You are a motivated researcher holding a PhD in the area of robotics or a related field. You have a proven track-record in developing and implementing planning and control paradigms on physical robotic systems. You have knowledge of probabilistic robotics and machine learning. You are an independent researcher, taking control over the project, but also able to collaborate with other researchers. You have good oral and written communication skills, with publications in top (robotic) journals and conferences. You are able and interested in supervising BSc, MSc and PhD students and in participating in education.

Conditions of employment

  • A temporary contract for 12 months, which will be extended to four years if you perform well. Gross salary per month: between € 3.173 and € 4.166 depending on experience and based on a full-time employment. In addition, we offer a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8,3% of your annual salary. A competitive salary and flexible leave/holiday plan.
  • A fun and excellent research team with an international reputation in agricultural robotics and biosystems engineering, embedded in a life-science university.
  • A collaboration within the inter-disciplinary Dutch "Soft Robotics" program, with participation of all four Dutch Technical Universities.
  • A good academic working atmosphere and an inspiring university campus.
  • A professional and personal development program.


Wageningen University & Research

The team
Wageningen University and Research has a long history in developing greenhouse robotics. At the Farm Technology chair group, headed by professor Eldert van Henten, you will work together with an experienced team of researchers in the area of machine vision, robotics and artificial intelligence. Within the Dutch "Soft Robotics" consortium, you will join forces with the best researchers in mechanical, electronical and control engineering that the Netherlands has to offer.

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is "To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life". Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 5,000 employees, and 10,000 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at thespecial career site.


  • Postdoc positions
  • Agriculture
  • max. 38 hours per week, temporary
  • Doctorate
  • 416260


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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