Open Assistant Professorship of Bio-inspired Autonomous Drones

Job description

Drones are flying robots that have an increasing impact in our society. Currently, most drones have a limited form of autonomy, taking care of stabilization and the following of GPS waypoints. There is an increasing number of drones on the market that are also able to avoid obstacles and follow a person to make the best possible selfie or action video. However, the autonomous flight capabilities of drones are still insufficient for many envisaged applications, such as package delivery and search-and-rescue.

The demands on autonomy and hence artificial intelligence of drones will increase, while it is enormously important not to add too much weight and processing, as the energy of drones is a very limiting factor for their flight duration and usefulness. Flying animals, such as birds and flying insects, show that it is possible to perform an impressive suite of intelligent behaviors with light-weight and power-efficient sensing, processing, and actuation.

The proposed position focuses on bio-inspired, autonomous drones. Relevant topics include AI at the edge, deep neural networks, neuromorphic sensing and processing, bio-inspired algorithms, swarming, reinforcement learning, computer vision, or any other topics that are relevant to bio-inspired, autonomous drones. Since intelligence is not only a matter of the mind but also of the body, also topics such as bio-inspired drone design are appreciated, as long as the candidate also has a strong affinity with artificial intelligence or control. The position will involve aiding in current bio-inspired AI-related courses at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, and contributing to additional ones.



You will be expected to:

  • Develop courses and conduct teaching at undergraduate and post-graduate levels
  • Perform top-quality research in the area of bio-inspired, autonomous drones
  • Establish and execute an externally funded research programme
  • Interact and collaborate with other researchers and specialists in academia and / or industry
  • Be an inspiring member of our staff and have excellent communication skills


The selected candidate will be employed in the section Control and Simulation (C&S) in the Faculty of Aerospace of Delft University of Technology.

Delft University of Technology is the oldest, largest and most comprehensive university of technology in the Netherlands and an establishment of significant international standing. The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering is one of the largest in the world, with a unique technical infrastructure including an aircraft and wind tunnels. The candidate will be associated to the Micro Air Vehicle lab (MAVLab: This lab brings together knowledge and experience in many fields including MAV flight dynamics and control, aerodynamics, electronics, and artificial intelligence. The lab includes all the machines necessary for going from the design of a novel MAV to its realization, including 3D printers, milling machines, wire cutters, etc. Furthermore, the lab runs the “Cyberzoo” facility, a 10x10x7m motion tracking arena, and has the possibility for outdoor testing in various test locations.

We expect that you have:

  • A PhD degree in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Control Systems Theory, Robotics, Aerospace Engineering, or a related discipline and preferably a few years of post-doctoral experience
  • Excellent track record in scientific research, as evidenced by publications in academic journals
  • Experience in the acquisition of external funding and an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Ability to work with others in a team
  • Proven ability to provide inspiring teaching in English

It is desired for you to have experience in designing / working with robotic systems, (embedded) programming and software development.