Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: ;

Would you like to join a groundbreaking European research project that will push the limits of physical intelligence in the field of aerial robotics? Do you want to do cutting edge research into evolutionary robotics where the bodies and brains of drones operating autonomously in dense, cluttered environments are evolved in tandem? Then please apply as a Postdoctoral researcher in Computational Intelligence at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).

FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

The Postdoctoral researcher will join a European research project (funded under the Horizon Europe program) carried out with a consortium of ten research groups from seven countries. The Spatial Perception & Embodied Autonomy Research (SPEAR) project will establish a novel methodology to develop drones for massively cluttered environments with unconventional materials and shape morphing bodies. The SPEAR paradigm is based on combining morphological evolution, data-driven policy learning and human “breeders” in the loop. The role of the Computational Intelligence Group in the project is to develop a new class of interactive evolutionary algorithms capable of synthesizing radically new drone embodiments that can cross the sim2real gap and successfully operate in very challenging situations.

The Computational Intelligence Group at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is one of the world leading centers of expertise in robot evolution with a well equipped bio-inspired robotics lab, an extensive algorithmic toolbox and an inspiring team spirit. We seek an experienced and motivated Postdoctoral researcher, who will work alongside multiple other Postdoctoral researchers, Ph.D. students, and staff members.

Key aspects of the project include:

  • Drone morphologies are composed of a combination of rigid and soft materials that allow shape morphing.
  • Drones are equipped with diverse sensing capabilities.
  • Artificial evolution helps design drone morphology and controller architecture.
  • The evolutionary process is executed interactively with human “breeders” in the loop.
  • Navigation policies are learned in a data-driven manner.
  • Drones are tested in cluttered real-world environments, including dense forests.

Your duties

  • Advance the project by all required contributions (developing evolutionary algorithms, combining evolution with learning, integrating humans in the (design) loop, mitigating the sim2real problem).
  • Contribute to our teaching and student project supervision.

  • Ph.D. in Robotics, Aerospace Engineering, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, or related fields.
  • Good track record of research publications in relevant fields.
  • Ability to work in a collaborative, multidisciplinary research environment.


  • Background in computational intelligence, e.g., evolutionary algorithms, neural networks, and reinforcement learning.
  • Experience with drone design.
  • Experience with physics simulators, e.g., Isaac Gym Omniverse.

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €4,036 (scale 10.5) and a maximum €5,090 (scale 10.12), depending on your education and experience. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The initial employment contract will affect a period of 1 year, with the possibility of an extension for two more years depending on the candidate’s performance.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to discuss whether your qualifications are satisfactory for applying to the position. We encourage women to apply for this position.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • contribution to commuting expenses,
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.

About the AI section
The AI section belongs to the Department of Computer Science. Much of the AI research is embedded in the Network Institute of Vrije Universiteit, covering disciplines such as Social sciences, Humanities, and Economics. The department explicitly encourages inter- and cross-disciplinary research, and expects successful candidates to collaborate with colleagues in other fields of Computer Science, as well as with colleagues from other disciplines such as those participating in the Network Institute.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until


Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Prof. Dr. Agoston Eiben
Position: Full Professor
E-mail: [email protected]

Relocation support
If you have any questions regarding moving to Amsterdam and working at VU Amsterdam, you may contact:

E-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: +31 (20) 59 86212

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