PhD Position in Soft Robotic Tactile Perception

Updated: 28 days ago
Deadline: 15 Oct 2022

The Center for Soft Robotics in SDU Biorobotics at the University of Southern Denmark invites applications for a fully-funded 3-year PhD position in Soft Robotics Tactile Perception located in Odense, Denmark with a preferred starting date of March 1st, 2023, or soon thereafter.

About the PhD project
Unlike humans that rely primarily on vision, Nature has developed versatile sensing modalities such as auditory and touch to perceive shapes and interact with complex environments. This project draws inspiration from the active touch sensing of Nature’s tactile specialists to develop a sensate soft robot that can infer tactile information through a sequence of exploratory movements. The result of this project equips the skin of soft robots with rich tactile sensing capabilities that can improve their functionality in manipulation, locomotion, and collaborative tasks. This project requires system-level development of hardware and software to integrate actuation, sensing, control, and learning in a unified soft robotic system. The position is part of the project “Seeing without Seeing through Bioinspired Soft Touch” funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark  through a Sapere Aude: DFF-Starting Grant .

Research environment
The University of Southern Denmark in Odense is a rich environment for research and innovation in robotics and automation. SDU Biorobotics  spans a broad range of expertise and research interests, including soft robotics, robot swarms, embodied AI and neurobotics, wearable robotics, and bio-inspired control. 

The Center for Soft Robotics  is a growing research group in SDU Biorobotics. We design, build and program next-generation bioinspired soft robots that use compliance as an integral part of their intelligence. In our research, we aim for a systems-level integration in designing and building soft robots. We use innovative soft materials and structures to develop AI matter and imbue soft robots with embedded sensing and interactive functionalities. We adopt biologically inspired control and learning strategies to enable such soft machines to communicate efficiently with humans e.g., through aesthetic expressions and navigate dexterously through complex terrains. The Center for Soft Robotics is an engaging and collaborative environment with a highly multicultural, multinational diverse team. We work together and with other researchers and our industrial partners to translate the outcome of our research into impactful applications.

About the candidate
We are looking for a highly motivated, creative, and ambitious student with a good command of English (written and spoken) who can work well in a team and independently. The candidate should have a master’s degree in engineering, preferably in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, robotics, or mechatronics, a genuine interest in interdisciplinary research, and a drive to design and fabricate physical robots using digital fabrication and 3D printing techniques. Experience in finite element simulations and excellent programming skills are strongly desired. The ideal candidate is competent to acquire knowledge and skills in new topics to conduct high-quality research, present the results at international conferences, and publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals. We expect the candidate to take part in the teaching activities of the Center for Soft Robotics and SDU Biorobotics.

Contact information
Further information about this position is available via email from Associate Professor Ahmad Rafsanjani ( ).

If you experience technical problems you must contact


Conditions of employment
Applicants are required to have a master’s degree (equivalent to a Danish master's degree) at the time of enrollment and employment. Employment as a PhD fellow is a 3-year salaried position (start salary amounts to approx. 3.378,- EURO per month incl. supplements).

Employment of a PhD fellow can only happen after the Head of the PhD School has approved the candidate for admission to the PhD school. Employment and enrollment will cease without further notice at the end of the period.

A PhD fellow is not allowed to have any kind of sideline employment , while enrolled as PhD fellow at the faculty.

Employment is governed by the Protocol on PhD Research Fellows signed by the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. Please check links for more information on salary and taxation .

The successful candidate will be enrolled at SDU in accordance with Faculty regulations and the Danish Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities (PhD order), read more here . 

The assessment process
Read about the Assessment and selection process . Shortlisting may be used. 

Application procedure
The Faculty expects applicants to read the Faculty information for prospective PhD students and the SDU information on How to apply before applying.

The application deadline is October 15th, 2022.

The application must be in English and must include the following - the required forms must be found at the Faculty website :

  • Completed TEK PhD application form for 5+3 applicants. Find the form at the Faculty website .
  • Motivation letter stating your specific interest, motivation and qualifications for the project in question (max. 2 pages). Upload in the field called “Project description”. 
  • Detailed Curriculum Vitae, describing research, publication and teaching experience, computational skills and including personal contact information.
  • Verified copies of the official bachelor diploma and master's diploma and transcripts of exams, both the original documents and in professional English translation.
  • Completed TEK PhD form for calculation grade point average. Find the form at the Faculty website . Upload in one of the fields called “Publication”. 
  • An official document describing the grading scheme of the awarding universities (if not Danish). Upload in one of the fields called “Publication”. 
  • An official and verified written assessment of the thesis or dissertation project from the grade giving institution, if the thesis/examination project is evaluated by approved/passed. The statement must clearly state that the candidate has been among the top 30 pct. in the graduation class for the study programme.
  • List of publications and maximum 2 examples of relevant publications, in case you have any publications. Please attach one pdf-file for each publication.
  • References (names and emails) and reference letters may also be included. You're welcome to use the form for reference letter at the Faculty website . 

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

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