[robotics-worldwide] 2 PhD Positions - Control and Learning for Autonomous Legged Manipulation - ETH Zurich

Jonas Buchli buchlij at ethz.ch
Tue Jun 12 08:15:18 PDT 2012

2 fully funded PhD Research Assistant positions at the Agile and 
Dexterous Robotics Lab at ETH Zürich


* Position A - Control of autonomous legged manipulation

This project aims at pushing the state of the art of model based control 
and planning for robots with arms and legs in unstructured environments. 
We aim at dynamic locomotion and manipulation, running, jumping, fast 
reaching, reaching and manipulating while walking etc. These motions 
should be at all time precisely planned and controlled through the 
appropriate use of force, impedance and whole body model based control.

* Position B: Learning control for autonomous legged manipulation

This projects will study how a robot can autonomously acquire the skills 
and models required to accomplish precise dynamic control of its arms 
and legs in unstructured environments. The goal is to complement the 
model based controller and planner methods with adaptive and learning 
methods, to adapt to changes in the robot & environment dynamics, e.g. 
payloads, different grounds, failures of components etc.


The successful candidates will work in the frame of a larger effort to 
get robots with arms and legs out of the lab into unstructured 
environments such as homes, factory floors, construction and disaster 
sites. We want these machines to work robustly in such environments and 
do useful work to assist humans in tasks that are too dangerous, require 
more strength or endurance or are simply tedious. These tasks pose many 
challenging problems for robots, from control to perception and 

The successful candidates for this positions are going to work on 
control and learning control for such robots doing 'autonomous mobile 
legged manipulation'.

The solutions will be evaluated in the frame of a mock-up disaster 
recovery scenario on existing robot hardware (IIT HyQ, StarlETH, SARCOS 
Humanoid, etc).

Possible Topics include:

- Control of legged locomotion
- Whole body control
- Planning for dynamic motions of robots with arms and legs
- Multi-contact control
- Combination of whole body control and state estimation
- Full body force and impedance control
- Applied machine learning to robotics
- Data driven robotics
- Robotic parkour: Running, jumping, using hands and legs to locomote 
with agility


- Starting Date: September 1, 2012 (later starts possible)
- Evaluation of candidates start July 1, but will continue until 
positions are filled (see http://www.adrl.ethz.ch for updates).


- MSc or equivalent in Electrical, Mechanical Engineering, Computer 
Science, Physics or closely related field
- Excellent academic track record
- Very good English skills, written and spoken
- Above average Team & Communication skills
- Excellent programming skills
- Excellent analytical skills & Critical thinking
- Persistence!

Not required but beneficial:
- Signals and Systems knowledge
- Control engineering background
- Experience with robotics and related mathematical fields
- Experience with physics simulators
- Machine learning background
- Unix/Linux knowledge
- Rankings in engineering/science competitions
- Previous research experience

PhD Research Assistants are expected, in addition to their PhD research, 
to participate in teaching, supervision of bachelor's and master's 
projects, and the general activities of the Lab.


Please send your CV, a letter of motivation (incl. statement of research
interests), 2 reference letters, and a copy of your transcripts (BSc and 
MSc) to Prof. Dr. Jonas Buchli <buchlij (at) ethz (dot) ch> quoting [PhD 
Application F_12_1] in the subject. Indicate project preference if any. 
Please send all documents in PDF or plain text format only.

Optionally send in a copy of undergrad project reports, semester papers 
or anything else that shows your ability for scientific work and writing.

For questions please contact Jonas Buchli  <buchlij (at) ethz (dot) ch>.


We offer an exciting research opportunity at the forefront of one of the 
most dynamic engineering fields. You will have both, one of the steepest 
personal learning experiences in your life as well as the opportunity to 
make an impact in the international robotics community.

You will be working in an international team of highly motivated and 
skilled people. You will grow into a network of international robotics 
professionals - Collaboration and exchange opportunities include, but 
are not limited to the USA, Italy, Germany, Japan and the UK.

A research assistant position is a regular job with social benefits, an
attractive salary and access to excellent facilities in one of the
world's leading technical universities. Zurich is regularly voted
among the top cities in the world for quality of life.


- Information about the Agile and Dexterous Robotics lab can be found at 

- ADRL is located at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems:
http://www.iris.ethz.ch/ and the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering: 

- Information about ETH can be found at http://www.ethz.ch/

Prof. Dr. Jonas Buchli
Head Agile and Dexterous Robotics Lab
Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems
ETH Zürich

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