[robotics-worldwide] [jobs] One Postdoc and one PhD position in robotics available at NTU, Singapore

Quang-Cuong Pham cuong.pham at normalesup.org
Sat Sep 13 02:32:06 PDT 2014

Dear all,

One Postdoc (2 years) and one PhD position (4 years) are available at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, NTU, Singapore. The position descriptions are below. We are welcoming strong candidates for these ambitious projects.

Thank you,


*Postdoc position (2 years, starting November 1st, 2014)*
*Dexterous Manipulation for Fine Robotic Assembly*

Fine assembly tasks (e.g. in the electronics, shoes, food industries) are still out of the reach of today’s industrial robots. The main challenges lie in the unstructured environments, the soft/fragile materials of the parts to be assembled and the difficulty in controlling contact interactions. This project aims at tackling these challenges in order to make robots capable of handling those fine assembly tasks in industrial contexts. In particular, we shall develop the theoretical and technological framework to (i) integrate 3D perception, tactile perception and compliant control using cheap, off-the-shelf components combined with usual position-controlled industrial manipulators, (ii) plan dexterous bi-manual manipulation based on motion planning with dynamics. We propose to evaluate the manipulation capabilities of the robotic system obtained at the end of the project on the task of autonomously assembling an IKEA chair.


We are seeking candidates with a PhD in Mechanical/Electrical Engineering or Robotics. A strong background in Motion Planning, Control, Manipulation and good programming skills are required.

*About the position*

The research will be conducted at the Control-Robotics-Intelligence (CRI) Group http://www.ntu.edu.sg/home/cuong/ and should start on November 1st, 2014 (it would be possible, however, to delay by some weeks if needed). Remunerations will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Interested candidates are invited to send a CV and three of their most significant publications to cuong at ntu.edu.sg preferably before October 1st 2014.


*PhD position (4 years, starting January 2015)*
*Biomechanics of running : a robotics perspective*

The objective of this thesis is to provide a novel understanding of the interaction between the foot and the ground during running and to build upon this understanding to design a robotic device to test running shoes.

To reproduce the dynamics of the foot/ground interaction during human running in a way faithful enough to fit the purpose of reliably testing running shoes, it is necessary to understand the biomechanics of running from a robotics perspective. For instance, a particularly important concept for the control of robotic devices that undergo significant interactions with the environment is that of mechanical impedance. Indeed, the separate knowledge of the foot velocity pattern on one hand and of the contact forces on the other is not sufficient to determine the mechanical interaction between the foot and the ground: it is precisely their relationship – as captured by the mechanical impedance – that matters if one is to build a robotic device that aims at reproducing this mechanical interaction. Note also that this mechanical impedance should not be understood only at the foot/ground interaction, but also throughout the whole “robotic leg”.

The first part of the proposed PhD thesis will consist in the study – through both experiments and simulations – of the foot/ground interaction and of the dynamics of the whole leg during contact, in light of concepts arising from robotics, such as that of mechanical impedance mentioned above. The second part will consist in the faithful reproduction of the foot/ground interaction through the design of a novel robotic device based on the knowledge gained in the first part. We believe that such a program can bring about a novel understanding of the biomechanics of running, as well as a new shoes-testing device able to reproduce the foot/ground interaction at a level of fidelity that no existing apparatus can reach.

Finally, the results obtained in the first part can also be used in other sport contexts which involve heavy interactions between human limbs and the environment, such as arm/racket/ball interaction in tennis or foot/ball interaction in football.


We are seeking candidates with a Master or Bachelor degree in Engineering (Mechanical, Aerospace, Electrical, Computer Science, Biomedical), Physiology, Physics or Mathematics. Familiarity with concepts from biomechanics, mechanical design, control theory or robotics would be appreciated, but we are interested above all in students with sharp critical reasoning and strong background in mathematics.

*About the position*

This PhD will be conducted at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (http://www.mae.ntu.edu.sg/) and the Institute for Sports Research (http://www.isr.ntu.edu.sg/), NTU, Singapore, under the supervision of Assistant Professor Pham Quang Cuong (http://www.ntu.edu.sg/home/cuong/) and the co-supervision of Assistant Professor Lorenzo Masia (http://www.lorenzomasia.info/). It will be funded by an NTU Research Scholarships (http://admissions.ntu.edu.sg/graduate/scholarships/Pages/ResearchScholarship.aspx) and should start by January 2015.

Interested candidates are invited to send a CV and two of their most significant publications (if applicable) to cuong at ntu.edu.sg preferably before October 1st 2014.

Quang-Cuong Pham

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