PhD student: Studying the flight control system of insects, as bio-inspiration for micro air vehi...

Wageningen UR
April 20 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

We are looking for a highly motivated and skilled PhD candidate to study the control dynamics of flying insects, with the aim to develop novel bio-inspired control algorithms of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs).

Palm sized Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) promise to become agile sensing and observation platforms with applications ranging from industrial inspection and security to agriculture and entertainment. But before this becomes a reality the flight manoeuvrability and control of MAVs needs to be improved. Flying insects greatly outperform current MAVs in manoeuvrability, because insects have a dedicated array of sensory systems and fast and effective flapping wing-based control actuation (Figure 1).

The PhD candidate will study the manoeuvre dynamics of flying insects in response to various external perturbations such as air gusts. Based on the acquired knowledge, the candidate will reverse-engineer the insect's sensory-motor control system, and develop bio-inspired flight control algorithms for MAVs. Our partners at the MavLab at TU Delft will work in parallel by implementing these bio-inspired flight control algorithms in their flapping MAV, the DelFly.

For this project, a range of experimental and modelling tools are available at Wageningen University, such as a dedicated insect flight wind tunnel, a state-of-the-art high-speed camera system, an automatic machineĀ­visionĀ­based insect flight tracking system and sophisticated fluid dynamics modelling tools. The candidate is expected to perform part of the research at TU Delft and abroad in collaboration with our international partners. For this interdisciplinary project, we are looking for a highly motivated and skilled PhD candidate with a recent university MSc degree (or equivalent) in engineering or (bio)physics. Specific requirements are:

  • Strong analytical skills and innovative attitude

  • A clear affinity with the field of control theory, (bio)mechanics, and/or fluid dynamics.

  • Very good programming skills (e.g. Matlab/Python)

  • The candidate should be a team player with excellent communication skills

  • Good proficiency in English (both oral and written)

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess