Postdoc within robot manipulation of 3D compliant objects

Deadline: 03.10.2022


SINTEF is one of Europe’s largest research institutes, offering specialist multidisciplinary expertise in the fields of technology and the natural and social sciences. SINTEF is an independent foundation that since 1950 has generated innovation by means of research and development projects for the private and public sectors both in Norway and overseas.

SINTEF has 2,100 employees from 80 countries and an annual turnover of more than NOK three billion. SINTEF invests any profits into further research and innovation.

Our vision: Technology for a better society.

SINTEF Ocean er et av seks institutt som utgjør SINTEF. Vi jobber med forskning og innovasjon knyttet til havrommet for nasjonal og internasjonal industri. Vår ambisjon er å videreføre Norges ledende posisjon innenfor marinteknisk og biomarin forskning. Sammen med næringsliv og myndigheter utvikler vi fremtidsrettede løsninger for bærekraftig utnyttelse av havet. Vårt hovedkontor er i Trondheim, og vi har avdelinger i Tromsø, Hirtshals, Oslo, Ålesund og Bergen.

Transport, food and energy production represent the backbone of ocean-based industries and are also core research areas for SINTEF Ocean. The research focus of the Automation group at SINTEF Ocean is to develop sustainable solutions for the food and seafood processing and production, where automation of food handling and manipulation tasks is one of the fundamental research areas. Therefore, our vision is to develop versatile robot-based solutions that can automate some of the most complex manipulation tasks today involving 3D compliant objects such as seafood.

About the position

SINTEF Ocean and the Automation group, Trondheim, Norway, have a vacant PostDoc position. The position is available for 24 months. This position is within the SINTEF Ocean led ground breaking FRIPRO/FRINATEK research project - BIFROST - financed by the Research Council of Norway, whose main objective is to develop novel robot visual and tactile-based perception, control and learning for manipulation of challenging 3D compliant objects such as seafood. Apart from SINTEF Ocean, who is the project owner and the host institution of the PI, the highly competent project consortium consists of two leading international groups, from MIT (USA) and Inria (France).

A major challenge in robotics is the robotic manipulation of the 3D compliant objects. Extending perception (visual and tactile), control and learning capability to 3D compliant objects will open a wide range of applications and tasks currently performed only by humans, such as in food production and other areas that are vital to society. The PostDoc researcher will work with embedding the visual (RGB-D) and tactile sensing (GelSight) and using these sensing modalities for learning multi-modal models that can be used for robot perception and control during manipulation tasks on 3D compliant objects.

For the scientific tasks in the project, the PostDoc reports to the PI of the project Dr. Ekrem Misimi, who will serve as the scientific advisor to the PostDoc. The personnel and administrative responsibility of the position lie on Dr. Kirsti Greiff, the group leader.

Example tasks

The PostDoc candidate will contribute on the following research areas with respect to the robotic manipulation of 3D compliant objects:

1. Multi-modal perception and control for robotic manipulation: To develop a suitable perception and control/learning framework for multi-modal models for robotic manipulation based on raw visual and image-based tactile observations. 2. AI-based Robot learning with motion and tactile primitives and multi-step reasoning for shape serving: working with high-level primitives for prehensile and non-prehensile actions and mapping visual and tactile observations to respective sets of actions to achieve the desired deformation. 3. Robot control and learning for switching between the perception modes: Due to the limitation of the RGB-D visual sensor, during grasping approach phase and actual grasping, and for integration of other sensing modalities, an occlusion resilient switching between control in RGB-D, to control in RGB, and to control in image-based tactile only perception mode, in a closed-loop needs to be developed. In addition to collaborating with consortium partners during the investigation of the tasks above, the PostDoc is expected to collaborate also with the aim of contributing to a final project demonstrator, involving dual-arm manipulation with Panda Franka Emika 7-DOF robotic arms, which is aimed to lead to a final joint project publication.

The basic common robotic platform is composed by a Panda Franka Emika 7-DOF robotic arm(s), which is the arm that will be used during the research work, Intel RealSense D435 RGB-D sensor, GelSight sensor, and Reflex Takktile hand.

Required qualifications

The ideal candidate must have a PhD degree in robotics, AI, or robotics and AI, or robotics and intelligent systems, with a strong intersection of AI and computer vision, as well as an excellent track record.

The candidate must have the following qualifications:

  • Strong background in robotics, AI and computer vision
  • Experience with physical robots and simulation environments
  • Excellent programming skills in C++ and Python
  • Fluency in written and oral English
  • Excellent track record (publications in relevant conferences and journals of the field)
  • Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively

Start date: Preferred start - January 15th , 2023 (latest during Q1)

Advisor: Ekrem Misimi, senior scientist and PI of the BIFROST project

Working place: SINTEF Ocean MaroLAB, Trondheim, Norway.

About the application: Application must include the following documents: CV – including publication list, motivation letter, certificates and diplomas of the PhD, recommendation letters and contact information for two references.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience - track of record, personal suitability, as well as fulfillment of the qualification requirements specified above.

Applications sent by email and not by the application form will not be considered.

SINTEF Ocean offers and benefits of working with us

  • A strong international scientific environment and access to excellent research facilities
  • An open and inclusive work environment
  • A modern pension scheme and excellent insurance
  • Flexible working hours
  • Fully funded position with a highly competitive salary
  • Norway is regularly ranked in the top countries in the world for quality of life (link)

If you have any questions about the position, please contact:

If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact:

HR Manager Nora Berg, telephone +47 99613122, email: [email protected]

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