Postdoctoral Researcher - Whole-Body Sensing and Manipulation

Toyota Research Institute

Toyota Research Institute

Cambridge, MA, USA
Posted on Thursday, November 2, 2023
At Toyota Research Institute (TRI), we’re on a mission to improve the quality of human life. We’re developing new tools and capabilities to amplify the human experience. To lead this transformative shift in mobility, we’ve built a world-class team in Human-Centered AI, Human Interactive Driving, Energy and Materials, Machine Learning, and Robotics.
The Team
The Punyo team bridges complementary research and engineering expertise in physical human-robot interaction, soft robotics, contact planning and controls, humanoid systems, software development, robots for entertainment, machine learning, and user-centered design. We're working on highly compliant, tactile-sensing robotic systems for manipulating the larger, heavier objects in one’s home and physical mobility assistance.
The Postdoc
This year-long postdoctoral research position will be highly integrated into our team with hands in both ongoing and new research and development threads in the areas of:
- Contact-rich planning and control for compliant manipulation systems
- Robot learning methods for contact-rich skills
- Multimodal tactile sensing and sensor fusion
- Physical human-robot interaction
This researcher will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with our team at TRI on high-risk, high-reward projects, pushing forward our understanding of contact-rich manipulation. This is an applied position where we aim to implement developments robustly on hardware in real-world environments.
We welcome you to join a positive, friendly, and enthusiastic team of researchers, where you will contribute to helping people gain and maintain independence, access, and mobility!


  • Develop, integrate, and deploy algorithms for motion planning and control, planning for rich-contact tasks, and whole-body dexterous manipulation.
  • Develop and integrate control algorithms that exploit tactile feedback and multi-modal sensing in constrained domestic environments.
  • Invent and deploy innovative solutions at the intersection of machine learning, soft-robotics, tactile sensing, manipulation, human interaction, and simulation for performing useful tasks, in and around homes.
  • Co-invent novel ways to engineer and learn robust, real-world behaviors, incorporating optimization, planning, reactive control, self-supervision, learning from demonstration, simulation and transfer learning, real-world adaptation, etc.
  • Work closely with Human-Robot Interaction researchers in understanding human motion, needs, and applications.
  • Follow best practices producing maintainable code, including automated testing, continuous integration, code style conformity, and code review.


  • Ph.D. in a relevant technical field.
  • A strong background with motion planning methods, specifically contact-aware planning methods, for multi-DoF dexterous manipulation in cluttered and constrained environments.
  • Strong software engineering skills, preferably in C++ and Python, and in analysis and debugging of autonomous robotic systems.
  • A standout colleague with strong communication skills, and an ability to learn from others and contribute back to the robotics community with publications or open source code.
  • Passionate about assisting and amplifying older adults and those in need through domestic manipulation, human-robot collaboration, and physical assistance innovation.

Additional experience or knowledge in any of the following areas

  • Reactive planning and control, coordinated whole-body control, dexterous manipulation, grasp planning, and human interaction.
  • Application of machine learning to robotics, including reinforcement, imitation, and transfer learning.
  • Tactile sensing, modeling soft-contact, and soft robotics.
  • Integration of multi-modal sensing into planning and control and in development of sensor fusion methods.
  • Mobile and/or legged locomotion in constrained environments.
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