Postdoctoral Research Associate in legged robot motion-planning and optimisation

  • Full time, fixed term for 3 years
  • Join a world leading research hub developing intelligent robotic systems for inspection and assess management
  • Base Salary Level A or B - $101,507-$140,586 + 17% superannuation
  • POSTED: December 20, 2023
  • CLOSES: January 19, 2024
  • LOCATION: Sydney, Australia
  • POSITION: Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • ORGANISATION: University of Sydney
  • SUPERVISOR: Prof. Ian Manchester

About the opportunity

As part of the Australian Robotic Inspection and Management Research Hub (ARIAM) we are seeking an ambitious and talented Postdoctoral Research Associate to advance the state of art in multi-legged climbing/crawling robots.  The research will focus on developing new algorithms and techniques for motion planning, trajectory optimisation, control and design optimisation, working closely with Hub Industry Partner, Nexxis.

There are multiple positions opening as part of ARIAM. This planning and control-focused position will advance the algorithmic technologies required for jointly optimising the design of a multi-legged crawling/climbing robot along with its crawling/climbing gait and motion control. The aim is to enable traversal through confined spaces with complex geometries. Challenges arise from interdependency between the physical design of the robot and the space of possible crawling gaits and control algorithms. Additional constraints arise in due to difficulties in environmental perception.

Depending on ability and interest, candidate approaches can include classical planning methods, trajectory optimization, reinforcement learning, or a combination of these. This project aims to transform current approaches to inspection of confined spaces by advancing the state of the art in legged robotics.

In this role you will:

  • work closely with a team of project academics, engineers and PhD students
  • work partially on-site at our industry partner’s headquarters in Perth, Western Australia
  • contribute to the ARIAM Hub’s demonstrator program that will showcase your research and that of other Hub projects
  • contribute as a researcher to project report preparation, presentation at internal workshops and dissemination at top international conferences and journals as well as via internal workshops and presentations.

About Us

ARIAM Hub is a collaboration between leading academic researchers and experts from the Australian robotics industry supported by the Australian Research Council to deliver research excellence in robotics for asset management. ARIAM spans 3 leading Australian universities: The University of Sydney, QUT and ANU. This position will be co-supervised by Professor Ian Manchester, Australian Centre for Robotics (ACFR) at the University of Sydney, and Professor Hanna Kurniawati, at the Australian National University. The ACFR is one of Australia’s leading robotics research groups with a comprehensive research program from the fundamental science of robotics to applications in various domains. In this role you will work as part of the ARIAM team and collaborate across multiple groups across the hub.

About you

The University values courage and creativity; openness and engagement; inclusion and diversity; and respect and integrity. As such, we see the importance of recruiting talent aligned to these values. We are seeking excellent candidates for a Postdoctoral Research Associate role with relevant skills.  Outstanding candidates with skills in robotics including navigation, planning and active perception are also strongly encouraged to apply.

A similar role will shortly be available at ANU’s School of Computing under the supervision of Prof. Hanna Kurniawati.

Essential criteria:

  • a PhD (or near completion) in robotics, control, optimisation, planning, or a related field
  • proven ability to conduct high quality research, evidenced by peer-reviewed publications in top international journals and conferences
  • an ability to coordinate multiple project objectives to meet established targets and deadlines
  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Desirable criteria:

  • experience conducting research in collaboration between industry and academic partners
  • A history of research excellence evidenced by prizes or awards, relative to experience.

Please also include a Google Drive link to a 2-minute selfie video covering the following

  • Your strongest engineering skills
  • What do you enjoy most about research
  • A description of a project that you’re proud of, or plan to be when completed

To keep our community safe, please be aware of our COVID safety precautions which form our conditions of entry for all staff, students and visitors coming to campus.

Pre-employment checks

Your employment is conditional upon the completion of all role required pre-employment or background checks in terms satisfactory to the University. Similarly, your ongoing employment is conditional upon the satisfactory maintenance of all relevant clearances and background check requirements. If you do not meet these conditions, the University may take any necessary step, including the termination of your employment.

EEO statement

At the University of Sydney, our shared values include diversity and inclusion and we strive to be a place where everyone can thrive. We are committed to creating a University community which reflects the wider community that we serve. We deliver on this commitment through our people and culture programs, as well as key strategies to increase participation and support the careers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, women, people living with a disability, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and those who identify as LGBTIQ. We welcome applications from candidates from all backgrounds.

How to apply

Applications (including a cover letter, CV, and any additional supporting documentation) can be submitted via the Apply button at the top of the page.

Please also include a Google Drive link to a 2-minute selfie video covering the following

  • Your strongest engineering skills
  • What do you enjoy most about research
  • A description of a project that you’re proud of, or plan to be when completed

For employees of the University or contingent workers, please login into your Workday account and navigate to the Career icon on your Dashboard.  Click on USYD Find Jobs and apply.

For a confidential discussion about the role, or if you require reasonable adjustment or support filling out this application, please contact Rebecca Astar or Cherie Goodwin, Recruitment Operations, by email to

Please note that the University is closed down for the seasonal break from Friday 22 December 2023. Staff return on Monday 8 January 2024.

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The University reserves the right not to proceed with any appointment.

Click to view the Position Description for this role.

Applications Close: Friday 19 January 2024 11:59 PM

Apply now