The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering of Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, announces a vacancy for one Ph.D. student within the project:

Bio-inspired control and design of flapping wing MAVs

Description of the project:

The primary goal is to develop a highly manoeuvrable flapping wing MAV with bio-inspired wing-based control actuation and strong gust rejecting capabilities. A considerable progress in the flapping wing design, aerodynamics and control has been made over the past 10 years within the DelFly project (http://www.delfly.nl/ ), led by the Micro Air Vehicles Laboratory group in close collaboration with other groups of TU Delft. This project led to the first camera equipped flapping wing MAV, the smallest camera equipped aircraft in the world and the first fully autonomous flapping wing MAV. However, until now all the developed designs relied on a conventional aircraft tail, providing the vehicle with passive stability and carrying the control surfaces for steering.

For the current project, a close collaboration with the group of Experimental biology at Wageningen UR is established to: 1) develop and integrate an insect-inspired wing-based control actuation into the DelFly MAV and 2) develop insect-inspired control algorithms, with as first focus stabilization and gust-rejection. This effort should then be integrated into a tailless design with high agility and high resilience to wind gusts.

The project will be carried out within the Control and Simulation section of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, but in close collaboration with the groups of Aerodynamics at TU Delft and Experimental Zoology at Wageningen UR. The supervisors will be dr. Guido de Croon, dr. ir. Matej Karásek (both Micro Air Vehicle Laboratory), and dr. ir. Bas van Oudheusden (Aerodynamics). Part of the project related to bio-inspired sensing may be carried out at the laboratory of an external project collaborator, prof. Tom Daniel (University of Washington).

What do we ask?

We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in an area such as Mechatronics, Robotics, Aerospace Engineering, Control Systems Theory, or a similar field. The candidate is expected to be passionate about mechanical design and prototyping, and have a keen interest in (bio-inspired) robot control. Furthermore, programming experience is required in Matlab/Python and/or C/C++.

Previous experience with robotic or mechatronic systems and their control is an asset. Please note that the Ph.D. candidate will work within a team with ample experience in design and prototyping of MAVs, autopilots (in particular Paparazzi) and micro-electronics as well as with bio-inspired vision-based control. The candidate must have strong analytical skills and must be able to work at the intersection of several research domains (mechanical design, mechatronics, control, aerodynamics, biology, artificial intelligence). A very good command of the English language is required, as well as excellent communication skills.

What do we offer?

We offer the opportunity to do scientifically challenging research in a multi-disciplinary research group. The appointment will be for a period of 4 years. As an employee of the university you will receive a competitive salary, as well as excellent secondary benefits in accordance with the Collective Agreement (CAO) of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). Your gross salary in the first year will be according to the first step of the standard Dutch salary scale for a PhD candidate, which is currently € 2,191.00 gross per month (approximately € 1,740.00 net). In the second year, your salary will be increased to € 2,552.00 gross. This salary is to increase further in your third and fourth year. Assistance with accommodation can be arranged.

How to apply?

Submit your application to dr. Guido de Croon (email: g.c.h.e.decroon@tudelft.nl) before February 14th 2017. Include a cover letter along with a detailed curriculum vitae, a separate motivation letter stating why the proposed research topic interests you, electronic links to or copies of a few selected publications (if applicable), an overview of possible “hobby projects” in the area of robotics / drones, the summary of your MSc thesis, your MSc and BSc course programs and the corresponding grades, names and addresses of two to three reference persons, and other information that might be relevant to your application. Job interviews will take place in February – March 2017.