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012047 - UCD Post-doctoral Research Fellow Level 1 Tactile sensor research, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (2 years)



Applications are invited for a UCD Post-doctoral Research Fellow Level 1 Tactile sensor research post within UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Prosthetic and robotic hands demonstrate poor dexterity during object manipulation, often dropping objects. Humans rarely allow objects to slip because we can sense if an object is slippery and adjust our grip. In recent years, while we have learned more about the biomechanics and neuroscience underpinning our ability to sense friction, there is still much to learn. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given how poorly we understand human friction sensing, very little research has been directed at replicating this ability to sense friction or slipperiness in artificial sensors.

This research program has three work objectives:
(1) To advance our understanding of how humans sense friction;
(2)To demonstrate, using a number of friction-based tactile sensor prototypes which we are currently being developing, that friction sensing leads to improved dexterity in robotic manipulation; (3)To use advanced design, manufacturing, and instrumentation methods to miniaturise the proposed sensors to scale similar to a human finger pad.

The outcomes of this research, which would endow artificial hands with the ability to feel the slipperiness and/or impending loss of grip of a grasped object, could significantly advance the fields of prosthetics, telesurgery, and service, agricultural, and manufacturing robotics. This project is funded by Science Foundation Ireland's President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Award, with additional funding from the US Office of Naval Research Global (through a collaboration with the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia).

This is a research focused role, where you will conduct a specified programme of research supported by research training and development under the supervision and direction of a Principal Investigator.

The primary purpose of the role is to further develop your research skills and competences, including the processes of publication in peer-reviewed academic publications, the development of funding proposals, the mentorship of graduate students along with the opportunity to develop your skills in research led teaching.

In addition to the Principal Duties and Responsibilities listed below, the successful candidate will also carry out the following duties specific to this project:
• Contribute to the development of state-of-the-art next-generation robotic fingers which can sense friction/slipperiness in real-time. Prototype demo https://youtu.be/uKQE_NObHJo
• Increase the density (decrease the size and increase the sensing element count) of existing finger prototypes (9 elements with 1 element / 8.5 mm2) to approach the resolution of human touch sensation (100+ elements with ~1 element/mm2) using state-of-the-art micro/milli-manufacturing methods;
• Contribute to the installation and programming of research equipment, including: 3D printers; six-axis robotic arms; six-axis hexapod robotic stages; robotic grippers;
• Use deep learning approaches to develop algorithms that can interpret tactile sensor signals to estimate physical properties of an object, such as texture, shape and friction.
• Perform machining/moulding/assembly of bespoke small-scale mechanical and electrical equipment, including robotic grippers and test apparatus;
• Contribute to the development of real-time control software for bespoke robotic stage control strategies;
• Provide technical assistance to ongoing human neurological experiments;
• Contribute to the collection, analysis and dissemination of experimental data and results.
Salary: €37,874 per annum
Appointment will be made in accordance with the Department of Finance guidelines.

Closing date: 17:00hrs (local Irish time) on 5th January 2020.

Applications must be submitted by the closing date and time specified. Any applications which are still in progress at the closing time of 17:00hrs (Local Irish Time) on the specified closing date will be cancelled automatically by the system. UCD are unable to accept late applications.

Prior to application, further information (including application procedure) should be obtained from the Work at UCD website: https://www.ucd.ie/workatucd/jobs/

UCD do not require assistance from Recruitment Agencies. Any CV's submitted by Recruitment Agencies will be returned.


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