PhD Student In World Modelling For Robotic Applications

KU Leuven



You will be embedded in the Robotics Research Group at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Division of Production engineering, Machine design and Automation (PMA). The group has pioneered robotics research in Europe since the mid-1970s and was among the first to develop active force feedback for assembly operations. Already in 1980 it developed learning insertion algorithms based on stochastic automata. It has covered virtually all aspects of sensor-based robotics, from the high-level task specification down to low-level sensor-based control, and applied the research results in a variety of industrial applications. In the last decade the group shifted its attention towards service robots (behaviour-based mobile manipulation, shared control, learning control), medical robotics (natural interfaces, haptic bilateral control), industrial robot assistants, and active sensing. PMA has created several spin-off companies that are active in robotics-related activities, has initiated several free and open-source software projects in robotics (Orocos, KDL, iTaSC, eTaSL, …), and has participated in a large number of EU projects in robotics, mostly oriented towards control and software development, with a focus on model-driven engineering techniques. More information is available through the link below.


The selected candidate will be involved in the MULTIROB project, a four-year strategic research project. The project focuses on developing a rigorous framework for programming multi-robot systems such as mobile manipulators and bimanual robots, and spans three large work packages: 1) continuous motion planning for multi-robot systems, 2) discrete coordination, planning and scheduling of complex tasks, and 3) building a world (meta-)model and software stack that can serve the algorithms from WPs 1 and 2.

For this vacancy, the selected candidate will focus on WP3, and interact with colleagues working on WP1 and WP2.



A successful candidate has obtained a MSc degree in engineering related to Robotics or Computer Science, and has a background and interest to contribute to:

  • world model representations: modelling of robots and the work cell environment in which the robots are operating, and the relations needed to describe a robotic tasks
  • algorithms for updating and querying the world model, including (but not limited to): sensor fusion and estimation techniques, kinematics & dynamics to simulate and check the feasibility of a robotic task, etc.

Software development will be part of your core research. The following elements will be considered in the evaluation:

  • proficiency in (or willingness to learn) multiple programming paradigms (object-oriented, procedural, functional, declarative), possibly with different general purposes languages (C/C++, Lua, Python, Julia, LISP, etc.)
  • experience with existing robotics middleware (Orocos, ROS, ...)
  • experience with writing domain-specific languages
  • experience with existing database frameworks (with preference to NO SQL and graph-based databases)
  • experience with implementing planning, control or estimation algorithms
  • experiences with model-driven engineering approach
  • contributions to free and open source software projects (also beyond the topic of the project) are a plus. If so, please list them clearly in your application or send us your portfolio

In your motivation letter or extended CV description, please consider to mention your previous experiences and skills which may help to make relevant contributions to the project.

The selected candidate is furthermore expected to:

  • have a very good knowledge of English (spoken and written)
  • be able to work independently, accurately and methodically
  • be a team player
  • present research findings at national and international conferences
  • publish research findings in international journals

Hands-on experience with robot platforms and sensor systems (vision, force, …) are a plus.


The successful candidate will receive:

  • a fully funded doctoral scholarship for one year, renewable up to four years
  • multiple benefits (health insurance, access to university infrastructure and sportsfacilities, etc.)
  • the opportunity to participate in research collaborations and international conferences

A start date in the course of 2019 (preferably before September 2019) is to be agreed upon.



Please use the online application tool to submit your application and include

[1] an academic CV with photo

[2] a pdf of your diplomas and transcript of course work and grades

[3] statement of research interests and career goals (max. 2 pages)

[4] sample of technical writing (publication or thesis)

[5] contact details of at least two referees


Note: the position might be filled in earlier if an excellent candidate is found.

For more information please send an e-mail to:

You can apply for this job no later than April 30, 2019 via the online application tool
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at


In your application, please refer to