• Alexandre

[PhD offer] How to convert a disordered assembly into a soft robot?

I am looking for a motivated student to embark on a PhD on the topic of disordered assemblies in relation with soft robotics

Towards a control of an assembly's collective response:

How to convert a disordered assembly into a soft robot?


Note that the offer is not funded yet, which means that the candidate will have to apply to the selective Doctoral School of Lyon to obtain a PhD scholarship for three years.

Compared to their 'hard' counterparts, soft robots [1] display several interesting features, including the ability to squeeze into narrow interstices and to grasp soft objects. However, they are notoriously difficult to design; conventional design strategies target only a limited number of shapes.


The PhD will be dedicated to exploring an entirely original alternative to the design and control of soft robots, whereby one starts with a disordered assembly of constituents and actuates some of these constituents in order to attain a desired shape. In other words, the actuation of some constituents will modify their shape and, since the assembly is dense, this will trigger an elasto-plastic response of the whole system [2]; the goal is to be able to control this global response by proper actuations.


The first step along this path will consist in simulating a two-dimensional assembly of particles with discrete-element simulations and will introduce meta-dynamics to guide the system towards a prescribed shape.


The ideal candidate has proven skills in numerical programming and an interest in simulations for materials' science; (s)he will be based at iLM, in Villeurbanne (near Lyon).

You can drop me an email for informal enquiries



References :

[1] KIM, Sangbae, LASCHI, Cecilia, et TRIMMER, Barry. Soft robotics: a bioinspired evolution in robotics. Trends in biotechnology, 2013, vol. 31, no 5, p. 287-294.

[2] NICOLAS, Alexandre, FERRERO, Ezequiel E., MARTENS, Kirsten, et al. Deformation and flow of amorphous solids: Insights from elastoplastic models. Reviews of Modern Physics, 2018, vol. 90, no 4, p. 045006.

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