PhD Position in Humanoid Robotics, Italian Institute of Technology, Italy

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PhD Opening in Humanoid Robotics
Department of Robotics Brain and Cognitive Sciences (RBCS)
Italian Institute of Technology

The Department of Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences ( at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa is opening a PhD position in the area of mechanical design of compliant robots.

Project Description:
Conventionally designed robots are made of metal parts, bearings, levers, gears or other components that are assembled with fasteners and screws, to obtain the desired functionality. An alternative approach is to derive this functionality directly from the properties of the materials and to embed components as, for example, with “shape deposition manufacturing” (Merz et al. 1994, Cutkosky et al. 1999). CAD and FE simulations are essential tools to design and optimize the details of the robot’s shape.

The aim of this PhD research program is to contribute to the transition from traditional robotics (metal & screws) to new, unconventional, compliant and more robust robots made exploring alternative materials. The reference task will be manipulation; the goal of this project is to design a robot hand for the iCub ( featuring tuned stiffness mechanics, embedded sensorization (proprioceptive and tactile), wiring and tendon driven actuation. Appropriate controllers are also required to match and exploit natural compliance but also to compensate for non-linearity (e.g. backlash).

Application Requirements:
The ideal candidate would have a background in mechanical engineering or related disciplines, and in particular, skills in finite element analysis/modelling, robotics, and more in general in the use of polymers in mechanical design. Any additional experience in robotics research will be considered as a plus.

Applicants should fill the on-line application form at ( under the “PhD School – Life and Human Technologies” Tab no later than the 24th of September 2010. For issues regarding the on-line application procedure prospective students should contact Ms. Anastasia Bruzzone (anastasia[dot]bruzzone[at]iit [dot]it).

Applicants should also confirm their submission by sending an e-mail to Prof. Giorgio Metta (giorgio[dot]metta[at]iit[dot]it) and to Dr. Alberto Parmiggiani (alberto[dot]parmiggiani[at]iit[dot]it).

International applications are encouraged and will receive logistic support with visa issues, relocation, etc.

About RBCS:
At RBCS top-level neuroscience research and top-level robotics research are merged by sharing fundamental scientific objectives in the field of action execution and interpretation (see RBCS list of publications as well as our international collaborations). The research team at RBCS is composed of neuroscientists, engineers, psychologists, physicists working together to investigate brain functions and realize intelligent machines and advanced prosthesis. RBCS is where technologies for implanted, in-vivo brain machine interface are developed but it is also the place where electrophysiological experiments are performed to realize bi-directional direct communication between the brain and artificial systems. RBCS is where studies of how visual, haptic and tactile integration develops in normal as well as sensory-impaired children but it is also the place where the iCub humanoid robot is developed in its mechanical, electronic and software components.


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