Space Robotics and AI

University of Surrey

Postdoctorate Position 2 years Guildford, UK

Uploaded 4 Apr 2019

Job Description

A Postdoctoral Research Fellow position is available at the University of Surrey within its leading UK Research Hub on Robotics and AI (RAI), namely “Future AI and Robotics for Space” ( This is a fixed-term contract until 31st March 2021.

The FAIR-SPACE Hub has the vision to establish an international centre of excellence in space robotics and autonomous systems. The Hub is led by University of Surrey supported by 5 university partners (Imperial, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Warwick and Salford) and 28 national/international project partners representing major space companies, agencies, research institutions as well as cross-sectorial RAI organizations. The Hub offers the world-class credentials and a unique combination of expertise and capabilities to address key challenges of RAI in the space sector. It will also influence, engage with the wider community of academia, industry, government and the public, and help cultivate and develop future leaders in RAI.

The successful candidate will contribute to research strands as part of the Hub for space environments (orbital or planetary), and will work on one of the following research topics:

1) Sensing & Perception: the research will involve developing LIDAR based sparse sampling and 3D map construction fusing with optical camera data under sparsity constraints for next-generation space robots, and developing low computational, robust simultaneous mapping and navigation algorithms for space conditions. Further research into Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality based on the real-time 3D sensing will also be considered.

2) Guidance, Navigation & Control: the research will involve designing high-fidelity GNC system that can adjust its computational load depending on the sensing and computational resources available and can tolerate faults and developing dynamic coordination of both global and local tasks subject to the external operating environment, resources, and mission time, based on a set of performance metrics (e.g. energy, distance, time).

3) Mobility & Mechanisms: the research will involve developing robust mechanisms for planetary surface and sub-surface mobility, including energy efficient rover chassis design, lightweight drilling, and regolith/volatile sample handling.

The success of the research programme requires multidisciplinary collaborations therefore good communication, presentation, project management skills are essential. We are looking for a candidate with a PhD (or equivalent professional/industrial experience) in mechatronics, robotics, AI/machine learningor a closely related discipline. The candidate must be independent and motivated with the willingness to travel and collaborate with experimentalists during the programme. Also, programming skills (MATLAB and C++), experience in ROS, robotic software and hardware development are preferable.

Should you wish to have an informal discussion regarding the role, please contact Prof Yang Gao, the Hub Director ([email protected]), and Mrs Jane Adkins, Hub Administrator ([email protected]).

Person Specification

The post holder must have:

  • A first degree or a professional qualification or equivalent in a relevant subject. 
  • At least part-completed a relevant doctoral degree or have relevant experience in a given field. 
  • Whilst there is no requirement for previous work experience, the post holder will be expected to be able to support research activities by performing experiments and/or undertaking studies and analysing/ interpreting results.

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