The PRISMA Lab (University of Naples Federico II - UNINA, Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology - DIETI) seeks to recruit two Ph.D. students who will have a key research role in the following area: Aerial Manipulation.

We are seeking two highly motivated scientists with a background in:
  • Robotics
  • Nonlinear control
  • Telemanipulation
  • Aerial robotics 

Necessary prerequisites are provable solid hands-on experience in ROS, Gazebo, C/C++, PYTHON, and MATLAB.

The two positions have the following titles:
1) Haptic control for remote teleoperation of cooperative aerial manipulators (Ref.DIETI/ASS.Ric.10/2021_1, ESR 12)
2) Stabilisation and control of aerial manipulators in contact with the environment for on-site measurements (Ref.DIETI/ASS.Ric.10/2021_2, ESR 2)

The research activities are framed within the recently funded European MSCA project “AEROTRAIN; AErial RObotic TRAINing for the next generation of European infrastructure and asset maintenance technologies.” More information about the project is given below.

All the relevant links are listed below.
Eligibility criteria are listed below.

The deadline for applications is September 3, 2021 (1 p.m., Italian time).
Results regarding the evaluation of titles, qualifications, and research project will be out o the DIETI website within September 14, 2021 (6 p.m., Italian time).
Oral interviews for selected candidates will take place on September 16, 2021 from 9 a.m. (Italian time).

The selected best candidates will sign the contract for the research grant before the end of November 2021. They will be in turn affiliated to the Ph.D. program of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, University of Naples Federico II.

For any technical problem or information regarding the application please contact Dr.Eng. Fabio Ruggiero (fabio (dot) ruggiero (at) unina (dot) it).

About the project

Do you want to be part of a vibrant training network on Aerial Robotics? Do you want to be one of the Early-Stage Researchers (ESR) that will fill the technological and scientific gaps between aerial robotics and the Operations & Maintenance (O&M) industry, thus impacting society and the industry? Do you believe that the potential of aerial robots is yet to be unleashed, and you want to be at the forefront of this technological innovation?

Apply now to the Ph.D. positions available through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie (MSC) ITN AERO-TRAIN European Training Network.

The AERO-TRAIN project aims to close the gap between the Infrastructure Operations and Maintenance industry and aerial robotics, with the ambition to keep our invaluable assets operational and safe. Moreover, the project addresses the challenging human-machine interface problems (e.g., immersive technology, augmented reality) for enhanced remote aerial manipulation and inspection evaluation. Furthermore, the project aims to develop new approaches for improving the robustness of aerial manipulators under conditions that reflect real situations. The project is carried out by a consortium of 14 academic and industrial organizations from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland.

Description of the topics

1) Haptic control for remote teleoperation of cooperative aerial manipulators
From a theoretical point of view, stability theorems exhibit only local validity and estimators of external disturbances may not be enough standalone, while they must be tailored on the design of the aerial manipulator itself. A fast reaction to unexpected situations should be guaranteed for reliable measurements.
- design a model-based control for an aerial device or an aerial manipulator while interacting with the environment for on-site measurements;
- study aerodynamic hurdles caused by the proximity of the floating platform with the surrounding environment, preventing even simple perching operations;
- develop estimators of unmodelled aerodynamic effects and external disturbances and test them in real life experiments.

2) Stabilisation and control of aerial manipulators in contact with the environment for on-site measurements
Inspection operation may use several platforms to cooperatively accomplish a task, all requiring to be maneuvered simultaneously by the remote operator
- develop a control framework for single user to multi-aerial manipulator mission control;
- assess the effect of time delays on multi-robot collaboration physically interacting with each other and the environment;
- develop tele-manipulation control strategies using multi-modal user information for distributed system coordination by a remote user.

Why applying

If you are interested in scientific and technological topics such as aerial robotics, intelligent mechatronics, autonomous robots, human-robot interaction, AI, and the like, as well as if you really want to fill the gap between academic research and the industry, then you should apply for one or multiple positions available in the AERO-TRAIN project!

Being one of the selected applicants’ means that you will:

  • participate in the most advanced training in the field of aerial robotics;
  • be part of a network of universities, research institutes, and high-tech industrial companies;
  • you will have the opportunity to visit multiple diverse environments within the network;
  • develop both your scientific and general skills;
  • be recruited by one of the most renowned universities and research institutes in Europe, and you will have access to their facilities, equipment, labs;
  • work on your own project, while also contributing to the advancement of aerial robotic technologies through a strong collaboration with the other Ph.D. students;
  • work with experts in the O&M industry, and you will have the opportunity to spend a secondment period at their premises, where you can develop and apply your competencies to solve real-life problems;
  • have the possibility to disseminate your results in research dissemination events (conferences) and industry events, where you will meet external stakeholders to pitch your project and unique technology.

Who are we looking for?

As an ESR applicant, you should:

  • have an academic background in relevant fields such as Engineering Technology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Physics, Industrial Engineering, Information Technologies, or related fields;
  • have excellent methodological skills and an analytical mind-set, ability to work independently and as a member of a research team. You are proactive, willing to learn, and you have self-management skills.


  • You are highly motivated, ambitious, and enthusiastic about research in the relevant fields, and you have an inner drive to develop a career in Science & Engineering.
  • You have outstanding communication skills in English, both oral and written.
  • You enjoy working in a team, with colleagues from different backgrounds, both within the group at your host organization and within the other participating organizations.
  • You are willing to travel and be part of different international research environments for several months.

Employment conditions and working environment

  • The selected candidates will be hired at the host institution holding the Ph.D. vacancy for up to 36 months.
  • As an ESR within the AERO-TRAIN project, you will receive an employment contract from the host institution, which includes several employment benefits, such as paid vacation, pension contribution, and social security.
  • According to the program regulations, you will receive a competitive gross salary depending on the country of employment, subject to taxation in compliance with each National Law.
  • Where applicable, your employer will assist you in administrative procedures related to your recruitment within the project, such as obtaining a visa.
  • You have the budget for work-related travel, books, and tuition.
  • You will have the opportunity to spend a secondment period in different research and/or industrial organization within the AERO-TRAIN network.
  • You will be part of a unique and ambitious training program in the field of Aerial Robotics for Operations and Maintenance and related areas (AI, computer vision, immersive technologies, teleoperation, human-robot interaction, and the like). You will participate in several events, including training schools, technology training, secondments, integration weeks, and participation in a grand challenge.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for recruitment, you must comply with the following requirements:

  • The applicant must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organization for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to his/her recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not considered.
  • The applicant is an “Early-Stage Researcher” meaning that, at the time of the application, the applicant has got the Master’s degree, or equivalent, that would formally entitle the applicant to embark on a doctorate. Besides, the applicant is in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of the career, measured from the date of the obtained Master’s degree, or equivalent. Periods spent to obtain further academic titles (additional Masters’ degrees, specialization diploma, specialization courses, etc.) are excluded from the 4-year calculation.
  • Applicants are not eligible if they have already been awarded a PhD.

All interested applicants meeting the eligibility requirements, irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion, or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

About PRISMA Lab

University of Naples Federico II is the third oldest university in Italy and the oldest public university in Europe. With a population of 11,000 students, the School of Engineering is the oldest in Italy and recently celebrated its second centennial since the foundation by King Gioacchino Murat in 1811. The PRISMA Lab team, coordinated by Prof. Bruno Siciliano, operates in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, where for almost 30 years is researching robotics. Current interests include force control, visual servoing, dual-arm/hand manipulation, human-robot interaction, aerial robotics, surgical robotics, and legged robotics. The team has gained worldwide recognition and is currently engaged in several projects supported by the European Community.

About Naples 

Naples is the third-largest city in Italy and is the capital of the Campania region. World-known for its rich history, art, culture, architecture, music, and gastronomy, Naples is a lively, exciting, and bustling city situated on the southwest coast in a gorgeous gulf, and is surrounded by attractive tourist and archaeological sites such as Capri, Ischia, Amalfi Coast, Pompei, Ercolano, Mount Vesuvius. 

Salary and Duration 

Gross annual salary is indicated within attachment A of the announcement for the positions. The contract's duration is three years.

Relevant links

  • Announcement for the positions: link
  • Online application website: link
  • Template for the research proposal: link
  • Webpage with all the official communications related to the open positions: link
  • AERO-TRAIN project website: link
  • University of Naples (UNINA) website: link
  • Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology (DIETI) website: link
  • PRISMA Lab website: link