University of Luxembourg

PhD Systematic approach to implementing robot autonomy in core flight software

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SnT is a leading international research and innovation centre in secure, reliable and trustworthy ICT systems and services. We play an instrumental role in Luxembourg by fueling innovation through research partnerships with industry, boosting R&D investments leading to economic growth, and attracting highly qualified talent.

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) invites applications from PhD candidates in the general area of Computer Science, Mechatronics, Electronics, and Robotics. SnT is carrying out interdisciplinary research in secure, reliable and trustworthy ICT systems and services, often in collaboration with industrial, governmental or international partners.

The Centre is rapidly expanding its research activities and is seeking highly motivated PhD candidates who wish to pursue research in close cooperation with our partners. For further information you may check:, and

This PhD thesis will count with the supervision of Prof. Miguel Olivares-Mendez (SpaceR).

We’re looking for people driven by excellence, excited about innovation, and looking to make a difference. If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place!

Your Role

The successful candidate will join a young, strong and motivated SpaceR research group focused on increasing the autonomy of aerial, planetary and orbital robotics for on-earth applications, space exploration, on-orbit servicing and manufacturing and space resource utilization. This innovative research group is led by Prof. Miguel Olivares-Mendez. The candidate will carry out research to pursue a PhD in the following topic:Systematic approach to implementing robot autonomy in core flight software

The candidate will be part of a partnership agreement between the SnT and Made In Space Europe. Made In Space Europe is developing robotic technologies to enable commercial activity in Earth orbit, on other planets, and beyond.

One of the key advantages of using robots in space is their capability of operating autonomously with higher level operations. The ability to prepare for autonomy ready operations for future iterations of robotics flight operations is central to Made in Space Europe’s technology roadmap. Achieving baseline autonomy with simple yet fundamental robotics operations will drive maturity of the autonomy framework on a pre-defined software architecture composed by the Made in Space Europe SW team.

The PhD thesis must emphasize the following plan to introduce autonomy inside an original software stack:

  • Formalize steps to achieve level 5 autonomy for on vision based control scenarios using on-orbit manipulation as use-case for generalizable autonomy
  • Incrementally develop relevant algorithms/models inside a preliminary software stack
  • Develop simulation tools to interface with industrial manipulator and flight hardware for these methods

Output: Specific autonomy level (TBD) reached for fundamental on-orbit manipulation robotics tasks in simulated reality. The candidate will be responsible of:

  • Building state of the art in autonomy driven SW framework
  • Development of software behavior description of software components to enable autonomous execution
  • Integration of these software mechanism in MIS EU software stack
  • Simulation of behavioral logic of autonomy models on various operations
  • Testing traditional and ML algorithms for autonomous behavior management (- bridging autonomy goals within learning constraints)
  • Analysis of algorithm robustness and limitations
  • Implementation of autonomy driven operations with manipulator with flight hardware in loop

Your Profile

The candidate should possess an MSc degree or equivalent in Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science (with experience in space).

  • Enthusiasm for scientific issues and scientific working methods;
  • Fluent written and verbal communication skills in English.
  • Commitment, team working and a critical mind

Basic qualifications:

  • ROS (Robotic Operating System)
  • Strong programming skills.
  • Experience with OpenCV and Machine Learning tools.
  • Linear algebra, coordinate frame transformations.
  • Ability to split time/presence at MIS Europe and SnT lab office
  • Detail oriented and organized, independent worker
  • Experience with ontologies

Preferred skills and experience:

  • Developer experience in ROS (Robotic Operation System)
  • Robotic simulation packages, such as Unity.
  • Experience with ontology-based approaches for autonomous robotics

Here’s what awaits you at SnT

  • A stimulating learning environment. Here post-docs and professors outnumber PhD students. That translates into access and close collaborations with some of the brightest ICT researchers, giving you solid guidance
  • Exciting infrastructures and unique labs. At SnT’s two campuses, our researchers can take a walk on the moon at the LunaLab, build a nanosatellite, or help make autonomous vehicles even better
  • The right place for IMPACT. SnT researchers engage in demand-driven projects. Through our Partnership Programme, we work on projects with more than 45 industry partners
  • Multiple funding sources for your ideas. The University supports researchers to acquire funding from national, European and private sources
  • Competitive salary package. The University offers a 12 month-salary package, over six weeks of paid time off, health insurance and subsidised living and eating
  • Be part of a multicultural family. At SnT we have more than 60 nationalities. Throughout the year, we organise team-building events, networking activities and more

But wait, there’s more!

Students can take advantage of several opportunities for growth and career development, from free language classes to career resources and extracurricular activities.

In Short

  • Contract Type: Fixed Term Contract 36 Month - extendable up to 48 months if required
  • Work Hours: Full Time 40.0 Hours per Week
  • Location: Kirchberg
  • Internal Title: Doctoral Researcher
  • Employee and student status
  • Job Reference: UOL04187

Further Information

Applications should be submitted online and include:

  • Full CV, including list of publications and name (and email address, etc) of three referees
  • Transcript of all modules and results from university-level courses taken
  • Research statement and topics of particular interest to the candidate (300 words)

All qualified individuals are encouraged to apply.

Early application is highly encouraged, as the applications will be processed upon reception. Please apply formally through the HR system. Applications by email will not be considered.

The University of Luxembourg embraces inclusion and diversity as key values. We are fully committed to removing any discriminatory barrier related to gender, and not only, in recruitment and career progression of our staff.

About the University of Luxembourg

The University of Luxembourg aspires to be one of Europe’s most highly regarded universities with a distinctly international and interdisciplinary character. It fosters the cross-fertilisation of research and teaching, is relevant to its country, is known worldwide for its research and teaching in targeted areas, and is establishing itself as an innovative model for contemporary European Higher Education. The University`s core asset is its well-connected world-class academic staff which will attract the most motivated, talented and creative students and young researchers who will learn to enjoy taking up challenges and develop into visionary thinkers able to shape society.

Further information

For further information, please contact us at

Job details

PhD Systematic approach to implementing robot autonomy in core flight software
2, avenue de I'Universite Belvaux, Luxembourg
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