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PhD on Design of robotic catheter and endoscopic systems

The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

The successful applicant will become part of the Robot Assisted Surgery (RAS) group ( belonging to the department of Mechanical Engineering. This is a growing, dynamic and multi-disciplinary research group that is heavily involved in international research and collaboration through various EU or bilateral projects. Recently, RAS has expanded its activity in development of flexible robotic technology and robotic catheterization. Apart from a unique research infrastructure, the RAS group maintains also tight and multiple collaborations with UZ Leuven, the largest (university) hospital in Belgium, which is located at 10 minutes ride (bicycle) of the department. The group consists of members of faculty of engineering science and engineering technology striving to develop advanced medical devices and translate those to the hospital where clinical validation should/could take place.


Recent efforts in robotics and automation research have fostered the development of a wide variety of the miniature continuum robots which can access confined spaces and, thanks to their compliance, follow complex trajectories exchanging limited forces with the surroundings. These properties explain the appeal of these robots in surgical applications and minimal invasive surgery in particular, where critical tasks are to be executed within the delicate and complex environment of the human body. In cancer treatment, there is a huge potential for smart robotic catheters. Equipped with force and shape sensing capability, advanced force control and smart catheter steering is feasible. Building upon earlier expertise in miniaturization, sensing and control, driving miniature dedicated catheters in difficult-to-reach anatomic areas becomes feasible. The areas that are targeted in this project are even harder to reach urging further improvements in terms of miniaturization. Within this project the PhD candidate will closely collaborate with colleagues from micro- and precision manufacturing who acquired needed equipment to further scale down steerable systems.

By looking at new mechanisms for actuation, sensing and control,this PhD will design and develop novel robotic endoscopic ultrasound and catheter systems. Building on earlier work, advanced sensing and estimation techniques will be elaborated to obtain an improved understanding of and control over the robot’s pose and contact state within its surroundings. The conducted research fits in an multi-disciplinary project lead by RAS, but involving also drug manufacturers (researchers) and clinicians. A close collaboration with both parties is envisioned and essential for success.


* Candidates must hold an engineering diplomathat gives access to the KU Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School PhD program (MScdegree obtained “cum laude” or equivalent).

* We are seeking a highly motivated andgoal-oriented candidate with a strong background in mechanicaldesign, mechatronics, biomedical engineering and/or robotics.

* Experience in mechanical design, manufacturing, FEM,programming (C, C++, python and ROS1/2) is advantageous.

* Good problem solve skills is definitely a bonus

* Candidates must be fluent in English.

* The candidate must be a team player.

Fully Funded Scholarships for International Students to Work and Study Abroad

The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium is pleased to offer a fully funded PhD scholarship to design and develop advanced robotic endoscopic ultrasound and catheters for minimal invasive surgical applications. The successful applicant will receive a 1 year PhD scholarship which can be extended to 4years after successful evaluation at year 1.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Emmanuel Vander Poorten, tel.: +32 16 32 25 28, mail: or Mr. Kenan Niu, tel.: +32 16 19 39 96, mail: can apply for this job no later than October 29, 2021 via the online application toolKU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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