Postdoctoral stipend (2 years) in Realtime Physics-Based Computer Vision for Crane Manipulators

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Umeå University announces one stipend for postdoctoral research in realtime physics-based computer vision for crane manipulators. The stipend is part of a massive effort on autonomous systems for industry and society of the future, with eight postdoctoral stipends in eight separate subprojects. Welcome with your application!

UMIT Research Lab ( at Umeå University brings together about 50 researchers in computing science, mathematics and physics for multidisciplinary research in scientific, high-performance, distributed and visual computing and its industrial applications and software for the analysis, design and control of complex systems. Behind UMIT Research Lab is the Departments of Computing Science, Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics, and Physics with about 275 employees engaged in internationally well recognized research and education at undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels.

The currently announced stipend is associated with the research group in Interactive multiphysics, whose research addresses methods and applications for physics-based simulation of complex mechanical systems, for example, vehicles, robots and equipment for transport and processing granular materials. Particular focus is given to realtime physics for visual interactive simulation, well exemplified by the spin-off companies Algoryx Simulation and Oryx Simulations. The group includes about 10 research scientists and engineers. The research is often performed in collaboration with industrial partners such as ABB, Boliden, Komatsu, LKAB, Scania, Volvo, Komatsu and software companies.

Project description
We are opening a postdoctoral stipend for research on realtime physics-based computer vision for crane manipulators.

Industrial crane manipulators are widely used in mining, marine and forest environments and are used for heavy and dangerous operations associated with the extraction, transport and processing of raw materials and for various rescue operations. The electro-hydraulic and mechanical properties of large industrial manipulators make them difficult to control for both operators and using conventional control methods developed for industrial robots. Fast and stable motion control and semi-autonomous functions has emerged only recently in commercial systems. The lack of robust computer vision, however, severely limits the development of higher level autonomy, for example, ability to grip and move objects and to plan and predict the outcome of movements in unstructured environments.

This project is targeting model-based vision of objects in the manipulator's operating environment, such as tree logs, chains, pipes or rocks and boulders. The idea is to combine camera techniques for computer vision with real-time physics simulation. By fusing the data streams from cameras and other sensors with data from multiple parallel simulations the physically impossible interpretations can be excluded and object tracking become robust. When the input is insufficient, the crane manipulator can perturb the environment to generate a dynamic response that reveal additional information about the objects' geometry and physical nature. Scientific methods in the project can include physics-based simulation, computer graphics, computer vision, machine learning and logic-based methods for reasoning and decision-making.

The project is part of a major effort including eight postdoctoral stipends in autonomous systems. For more information, see the following link.

Each stipend is for two years with a starting date to be negotiated. The stipend, provided by the Kempe Foundations, amounts to 300 000 SEK per year. The stipend is not subject to tax.

A qualified applicant is required to have a PhD degree or a foreign degree that is deemed equivalent in Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics, or another subject in an area of relevance for the project. The PhD degree shall not be more than three years old by the application deadline unless there are special reasons. The applicant should be strongly motivated and interested to develop new competencies, as well as to act in an international environment.

Documented knowledge and proven research experiences in physics-based simulation or computer vision is required. Good research merits and scientific publications in the area of the position are strongly meriting. International research experience is also a merit.

A successful candidate should be capable of performing practical implementations of real-time physics simulations or computer vision, as well as producing scientific publications in English. Very good knowledge in the English language, both spoken and written, is required.

A complete application should include:

  • An introductory letter summarizing your qualifications, research interests, and motivation for applying (max 2 pages)
  • CV with list of publications
  • Copies of PhD thesis and relevant publications
  • Copies of degree certificates
  • Name and contact information for two or three reference persons

The application should be written in English. Umeå University is an equal opportunity employer, therefore, we welcome female applicants in particular.

Further information is provided by Dr. Martin Servin at

Your complete application, marked FS 2.1.6-2285-16, should be sent electronically (in pdf-format) to (provide the reference number on the email’s subject line). Application deadline is 2017-02-15.

We look forward to your application!

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