WASP-funded PhD student position in computer science at the School of Science and Technology, Örebro University.

Project description

The research topic for this position is robotic lab automation for handling powdered and granular materials. Robotic lab automation is a major research focus in robotics that is often wrongly thought of as exclusively consisting of grasping, manipulating, and transporting test tubes and beakers which are placed in fixtures and lab machines. An overlooked but equally important task in a lab environment is the handling of powdered and granular chemical substances, which are essential for analytic and production processes. These substances are delivered in containers and processed in chemical reactors from which they must be scooped out for re-packaging, precise dosing, or when cleaning the lab. They can also form clumps, making them heterogeneous, and stick to surfaces, requiring precise scooping actions in constant contact with surfaces that are hidden under the volume of material itself. Handling powdered and granular materials must deal with arbitrarily shaped volumes of material in contact with hidden surfaces that can have complex geometry. To plan and execute efficient scooping actions, we need to perceive and understand the shape and dynamics of the volume of material as well as the hidden surface below it.

The purpose of this project is to enable robotic lab automation for handling powdered and granular materials for material transfer, precise dosing, and cleaning. To accomplish this, we will focus on: (1) Perceiving and modeling powdered and granular material on a hidden surface for scooping from interaction data using, e.g., force-torque and vibratory sensing. (2) Planning and executing scooping actions for efficient material transfer using the models from (1) and generating scooping actions along the hidden surface. (3) Planning and executing scooping actions for precise material dosing using online sensor feedback.

More information and application

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