PhD in Haptic Skins for Robot Touch Sensing

Updated: about 1 month ago
Job Type: Temporary
Deadline: 01 Dec 2021

Visual robot perception has grown tremendously in the last ten years. Artificial neural networks allow to reliably classify objects and segment structures from RGB images. Moreover, they allow for 3D pose estimation for robot navigation and manipulation in partially structured/unstructured environments. However, vision alone is not sufficient. Versatile interaction with unstructured environments requires a new generation of robots fully exploiting also touch and proprioception (perception of own movement and associated effort). Combining complementary touch and vision information leads to a better world interpretation. Touch sense enables the 3D modeling of unseen parts of the environment as well as object mass, inertia, and friction estimation. To make this possible, new generation intelligent haptic skins need to be developed. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) combined with visuo-tactile sensing will improve robot decision making, bringing a robotic arm's motions and behavior closer to human capabilities.

This project is sponsored by the Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute (EAISI).

I.Touch2See Project

The project I.Touch2See involves four departments of the TU/e (Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science, and Industrial Engineering & Innoviation Sciences), collaborating to develop groundbreaking robotics technologies to improve robotic perception for manipulation in unstructured enviroments. The PhD student will have ample opportunities for interaction within the project's principal investigators and the other 2 PhD students involved in the project.

Your duties

As a PhD researcher from the Integrated Circuits group, you will focus on developing haptic skins from hardware perspective, to enable a new concept of robot touch sensing. Flexible Electronics will be used to fabricate lightweight distributed thin-film force sensors on a plastic substrate. You will then design a dedicated Silicon Integrated Chip (Si-IC) to readout the raw signals generated by the haptic skin. The Si-IC will also integrate Artificial Intelligence functionalities (on hardware) to enable event-driven tactile sensing and low-latency feature extraction, prior signal digitalization. This knowledge will be then utilized in combination with robot visual and proprioception sensing by two fellow PhD researchers in your team, to create a 3D scene representation of the real world, estimating 3D shape and dynamical properties (friction, stiffness, mass, ...) of objects present in the environment.

Your job will be to investigate new research opportunities merging Artificial Intelligence with Microelectronics in the field of robotics. More in the specific, your main tasks will be:

  • Design of the haptic skin and the Si-IC readout electronics;
  • Develop prototypes for haptic skin characterizations and its use in real application scenario;
  • Generation of training data (ground truth) for touch sensing;
  • Dissemination of the results of your research in international and peer-reviewed journals and conferences;
  • Get involved in educational tasks such as the supervision of Master/Bachelor students and internships;
  • Writing a dissertation based on the research outcome and successfully defending it.

View or Apply

Similar Positions