Senior Research Engineer / Scientist (M/F/X) iMUGS (integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System) project

Job description and associated tasks

The Royal Military Academy of Belgium (RMA) is a military institution responsible for the basic academic, military and physical training of future officers and for the continuing advanced training of officers during their active career in the Belgian Defense department. It is fully recognized as a university, fulfilling the same criteria as civilian universities. The Royal Military Academy is also conducting scientific research at university level for projects funded by the Belgian Defense department or external sources.

In the framework of a research & development iMUGS (integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System) project funded by the European Commission’s European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) and conducted in collaboration with other major defence, communication and cybersecurity companies and high-tech SME partners, we are looking for a full-time senior research scientist/engineer with a PhD/doctoral degree in Applied Sciences / Engineering / Physics / Computer Science in the field of Robotics (Unmanned Systems) & Artificial Intelligence (AI).

During the project, a modular and scalable architecture for hybrid manned-unmanned systems will be developed to standardize a European-wide ecosystem for aerial and ground platforms, command, control and communication equipment, sensors, payloads, and algorithms. The prototype system will utilize an existing unmanned ground vehicle and a specific list of payloads. The outcome of the project should be demonstrated in operational environments and relevant climatic conditions as part of participating member states military exercises or at separate testing grounds.

The senior research engineer / scientist will be a part of the “Robotics & Autonomous Systems - RAS” Unit of the Department of Mechanics of the Royal Military Academy. The successful candidate will have a leading role as the Swarming subproject leader within the iMUGS project.

The goal of the Swarming subproject is to provide advancements of swarming technologies in order to expand the capabilities of a unique robot where heterogeneous assets will have the capability to work as a group with a common mission or multiple mission objectives. The developed work should aim to bridge existing practical gaps between theory and implementation of scalable multi-agent collaboration and optimization which should ensure operations in mission-critical unstructured outdoor environments. In order to execute such complex missions, the challenging existing gaps related to the timely and compact rendering and structuring of data need to be solved. Two types of swarming optimizations are envisaged: local and global optimization. Local optimization relies upon local (edge) limited computational power and local information, where global optimization relies upon many data sources on many different levels (edge-fog-cloud) and virtually unlimited computational resources. The successful candidate will have to, in cooperation with his colleagues and partners, lead the development of the swarming algorithms and concepts, implement, evaluate their performance and validate them in real and simulated environments. The swarming/autonomy framework should be developed as platform-agnostic, enabling integration to unmanned ground platforms and adaptation to current manned vehicles. The developed framework should furthermore be capable of expedited deployment and interoperable with existing command and control and manned operations. The candidate is also expected to publish the relevant results in the scientific literature and other dissemination channels while taking the industrial valorization of these results into account.

In addition, the successful candidate will also lead the preparation, define requirements and setting up measurement of a large-scale demonstration and test campaigns within a land/coastal environments to test and showcase the capabilities of the iMUGS system, with the goal of performing Beyond Visual Line of Sight ISR reconnaissance missions in a swarming manner (more than one UGV/UAV).

The duration of the iMUGS project is 30 months.

Main tasks
Performing the tasks of the iMUGS project allocated to the Royal Military Academy:

  • Lead and coordinate the subproject “Swarming” within iMUGS;
  • Develop architectures, methods and algorithms to optimize a swarming multi-agent system against multiple objectives, map possible concepts of swarm operation and identify possible scenarios and strategies;
  • Coordinate and develop real-time global and local swarming capabilities for collaborative robotic behavior and rapid rescheduling and re-tasking of robots (unmanned systems);
  • Design, develop and integrate swarming capabilities/algorithms aiming to operate multiple robots (unmanned systems) by a single operator (within real and simulated environments);
  • Define and develop a test bench for evaluation of the developed capabilities and algorithms;
  • Develop a testing, verification and demonstrations within realistic environments of the implemented designs and joint integrations with other partners;
  • Develop an exploitation plan to optimally valorise the Intellectual Property developed within this project;
  • Report the progress results, document operational procedures and best practices to the other members of the consortium and in the scientific literature, in English;
  • Report the obtained results at international conferences and write scientific papers in English;
  • Participate in identification of new research directions, collaborations with research and industrial partners, writing research/project proposals either as coordinator or collaborator of the RAM – RAS team.

More information: Dr. Ir. Haris Balta

Required skills

Technical skills
  • The applicant shall have a PhD/doctoral degree in Applied Sciences / Engineering / Physics / Computer Science in the field of Robotics & AI;
  • Extensive experience in leading R&D – Robotics (Unmanned Systems) & AI projects (EU, International) including project management (manage the resources and budget, present/document the progress and results of the work towards different stakeholders);
  • Excellent background in Robotics (Unmanned Systems) & AI (applied in realistic environments);
  • Experience in developing perception, autonomy, swarming algorithms including AI for Robotics (Unmanned Systems);
  • Excellent knowledge of a programming language (e.g. C++, Python…);
  • Very good understanding of Linux system and open-source development environments;
  • Knowledge of ROS and robotics simulation environments (e.g. Gazebo...);
  • Experience in integrating and developing HW/SW components in the field of Robotics (Unmanned Systems).
Specific requirements The successful candidate has to be committed to confidentiality and exclusivity and will therefore have to obtain the required security clearance. The candidate must consent with the background check required to obtain this clearance, which will be executed by the Belgian Defense. Taking into account the confidential nature of the provided information within the work, absolute discretion is to be demonstrated. This position is only open for EU member states citizens.
Personal skills The applicant shall
  • demonstrate the ability to conduct research on a high-level;
  • demonstrate the ability to lead/coordinate teams/projects;
  • be able to work independently in a multidisciplinary team;
  • be able to work well in a team.
Experience & other skills The applicant shall
  • have excellent written/oral scientific communication skills in English;
  • oral communication skills in French or Dutch are an added asset.



Point of contacts
Others Contract
• The candidate will be hired ASAP (in consultation with the applicant);
• The candidate will be offered an open-ended contract with the patrimony of the Royal Military Academy. This does not imply that the candidate will be a civil servant;
• Wage scale: A22 (holders of a PhD degree);

Extra-legal benefits
• Possibility to obtain a bonus for bilingualism (Dutch/French);
• Holiday allocation;
• End-of-year bonus;
• Hospitalization insurance;
• Free public transport (home-work commute);
• Free access to the on-campus sport infrastructure;
• On-campus restaurant and cafeteria;
• Stimulating work environment.

• Royal Military Academy - Avenue de la Renaissance 30, 1000 Bruxelles;
• Field tests will need to be executed at the testing premises (different locations);
• Occasional professional trips abroad;
• Meetings at partners’ premises.





The work is to be performed in a military context and that implies that the candidate will undergo a background check. The application must be accompanied by the filled in document. 

Applicants shall send
• a motivation letter;
• a complete CV;
• a scan of the PhD/doctoral diploma;
• three professional references;
• copies of up to three relevant (to the job description) publications;
• a copy of their ID card (front and back);
• the request for background check (see above),

referring the subject “MECA iMUGS project” to Dr. Ir. Haris Balta, Dr. Ir. Geert De Cubber and Thierry Deprez.

The application deadline is August 15th 2020.

A first pre-selection will be conducted based on the received documents. Preselected applicants meeting the requirements will be invited to a face-to-face interview (optional online; depending on the COVID-19 situation) at the Royal Military Academy, rue Hobbema 8, 1000 Brussels.