PhD Position Safe Planning and Control for Autonomous Robots

PhD Position Safe Planning and Control for Autonomous Robots

Published Deadline Location
4 Apr 15 May Delft

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 15 May 2024).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

How can autonomous robots prove that their plans are always safe?

Job description

Ensuring safe planning and control is paramount when we deploy autonomous robots in complex environments around humans, such as in agricultural or food-production applications. Unsafe decisions of autonomous robots may damage their hardware, the environment, or even harm humans. Together with an interdisciplinary team, we investigate new algorithmic foundations to ensure that robots only execute safe and desired decisions and plans. Whenever our algorithms detect potentially unsafe situations while the robot is operating, they execute countermeasures to keep the robot in a safe state. Such online verification algorithms allow us to mathematically prove the robot’s safety. To demonstrate and evaluate our algorithms, we work with various robotic systems such as mobile manipulators, quadrupeds, and drones, and deploy them in complex real-world environments.

We are looking for an enthusiastic and open team player to help us develop the next generation of verification techniques that automatically certify the safety of autonomous robots in real-world environments. You will be working together with us on new techniques to specify rich safety constraints that autonomous robots need to adhere to, synthesize verification algorithms that ensure safe planning and control, and adapt models on the fly during the robot’s operation to account for uncertainties. Our group focuses on applications in the agricultural and food production domain, and we would love to work with you on creating realistic testbeds. In the Cognitive Robotics department, we have various state-of-the-art robots available to demonstrate our research in realistic tasks. We cultivate an open and collaborative environment to create robots that work with and for humans on major societal problems.  Are you interested in helping us to unravel the full potential of autonomous robots that operate with guaranteed safety? We are looking forward to receiving your application.


  • Performing literature studies on safe planning and control techniques.
  • Developing new safety verification techniques for autonomous robots.
  • Setting up testbeds within agriculture and food production applications.
  • Implementing and validating algorithms in realistic environments and applications.
  • Collaborating within the group, department, and faculty on robotic applications.
  • (Co-) authoring scientific articles and thesis
  • Supervising students and teaching.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


Required qualifications and qualities:

  • Master’s Degree in: Robotics, Control, Computer Science, AI, or an adjacent field.
  • Ability to work in an open, cooperative, multidisciplinary team.
  • Background in planning, control, and/or formal methods.
  • Programming skills in Python and/or C++.
  • Advanced communication skills in English (written and spoken).

Helpful qualifications and qualities:

  • Ability or willingness to quickly learn new things.
  • Experience in working with real robots and the Robot Operating System (ROS) (for example by controlling a robot arm or a moving robot) or willingness to train during the PhD.
  • Interest in analyzing the safety of robotic systems through formal models.
  • Experience in implementing continuous planning and control algorithms for robots.
  • Curiosity to apply research in the field of agri-food robotics.

Personal development:

Your personal development during your PhD is important to us. We will train you in becoming an expert in safe planning and control for autonomous robots, conducting state-of-the-art research, and growing as an independent researcher. We will also mentor you on your personal development aside from scientific skills. During your contract, you will be part of the Mechanical Engineering Graduate School (more information below) that will allow you to deepen your knowledge and acquire/further develop transdisciplinary skills, e.g., presentation skills, reflection, or time management. During your PhD, we will also develop your teaching skills, e.g., by supervising Bachelor and Master theses, being a teaching assistant, and preparing guest lectures in existing courses. TU Delft provides a vibrant environment in which you can fully develop your personality and enjoy perks aside from work, such as sports classes and social events.

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 € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 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 a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


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 Mechanical Engineering

From chip to ship. From machine to human being. From idea to solution. Driven by a deep-rooted desire to understand our environment and discover its underlying mechanisms, research and education at the ME faculty focusses on fundamental understanding, design, production including application and product improvement, materials, processes and (mechanical) systems.

ME is a dynamic and innovative faculty with high-tech lab facilities and international reach. It’s a large faculty but also versatile, so we can often make unique connections by combining different disciplines. This is reflected in ME’s outstanding, state-of-the-art education, which trains students to become responsible and socially engaged engineers and scientists. We translate our knowledge and insights into solutions to societal issues, contributing to a sustainable society and to the development of prosperity and well-being. That is what unites us in pioneering research, inspiring education and (inter)national cooperation.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. Do you want to experience working at our faculty? These videos will introduce you to some of our researchers and their work.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 32—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD05222


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Learn more about this employer


Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD, Delft

View on Google Maps

Interessant voor jou