PhD Position in Musculoskeletal Robotic Systems

Updated: 3 days ago
Job Type: Permanent

100%, Zurich, fixed-term
Project background

The future of robotic manipulation and locomotion lies in the development of systems that closely mimic the complex structures and interaction capabilities of animals and humans. Traditional motor-driven robotic systems, while effective for a range of tasks, lack the versatility, sensitivity, and adaptability of their biological counterparts. This project focuses on bridging this gap by leveraging musculoskeletal robot technologies. You will embark on a comprehensive study of existing muscle-like technology and robotic hands and legs, drawing inspiration from nature to design and develop a robotic hand or quadruped that outperforms classic designs in terms of dexterity, efficiency, and functionality. This involves integrating advanced muscle and tendon systems, incorporating cutting-edge sensing and proprioceptive technologies, and controlling the robot through advanced control algorithms and machine-learning techniques. 


Job description

The doctoral research will be multidisciplinary, involving the analysis of current musculoskeletal technologies and the design of innovative robotic hands or quadrupeds.
You will focus on: 

  • Analyzing existing muscle technologies and robotic systems such as hands and legged systems, studying natural mechanisms of manipulation and locomotion
  • Designing and developing a robotic hand or leg using muscle-like actuators, tendons, ligaments, and skeletons --- aiming for superior performance compared to traditional motor-driven hands or legs
  • Integrating sensing and proprioceptive technologies to enhance the robot's functionality and control
  • Employing advanced control strategies and machine learning approaches, including imitation learning, for effective manipulation 

You will closely collaborate with other PhD students working on muscle technology, manipulation, control, and machine learning. 

The output of the PhD thesis will significantly contribute to the advancement of musculoskeletal robotics, particularly in the field of manipulation or locomotion, setting a new benchmark for robotics. 


Your profile

We are seeking a highly motivated, exceptional candidate with a passion for pioneering research in robotic system integration and musculoskeletal robotics. The ideal candidate should: 

  • Hold a master's degree in robotics or a related field such as mechanical engineering or electrical engineering
  • Have an excellent track record and meet the general admission requirements for a doctorate at ETH Zurich
  • Possess prior research experience in robotics, actuator development, or related areas
  • Be experienced or have a keen interest in machine learning, control theory, and sensing technologies
  • Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively in an interdisciplinary team

Experience in design and fabrication of robotic systems, especially those incorporating new actuator technologies, is highly desirable. Familiarity with machine learning techniques, such as imitation learning, and a background in biological or biomimetic systems would be advantageous. 



Your workplace

Your workplace

We offer

ETH offers an exciting opportunity, and admission is highly competitive. The fellows will be employed according to the regulations of ETH Zurich. Upon completing the doctorate, the fellows are awarded the title "Doctor of Sciences (Dr. sc. ETH Zurich)".

ETH Zurich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions. You can expect an exciting working environment, cultural diversity, and attractive offers and benefits.


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Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents in a single merged PDF document, titled with your last name and initials as well as the application date (for example, 20240301_DoeJane_application) in the following order:

  • Cover letter with a description of your research achievements and research interests
  • Detailed CV
  • Transcripts of all degrees in English
  • Names and contact information including a direct phone number of at least three references
  • Representative published research work (e.g., journal publications, conference papers, or thesis)
  • Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

    Further information about our group can be found on our website . Questions regarding the position should be directed to Ronan Hinchet under the email [email protected] (no applications).


    About ETH Zürich

    ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.



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