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AISB opportunities Bulletin Item

PhD Studentship - Assistive and Rehabilitation Robotics, U of Herts

PhD Studentship
Science and Technology Research Institute, Adaptive Systems Research Group, University of Hertfordshire, UK

Ref: FA4
Title: Assistive and rehabilitation robotics

Project  and  Requirements:
The  PhD  studentship  will  support  research  and  development  of  technologies and methods based  on  kinematical  and  tactile  evaluation  of  human-robot  interaction.
Recent  advances  in  human-robot  interaction  (HRI)  provide  potentials  for  engaging users via  different  modalities,  i.e.  visual,  audio  and  touch.  The sense  of  touch  can  be  divided  into  musculoskeletal  and  tactile  (cutaneous  and  kinaesthetic  senses)  senses.  The use  of  haptic  technologies  or  touch-enabled  mechanisms  would  allow  for  more  human-like  and  motivational  interactions  so  these  technologies  have  been  used  in  addition  to  audio  and  visual  interaction  in  therapeutic  and  assistive  robotics  domains.  It  is  also  possible  to  use  these  technologies  to  understand  human  performance  better.  There  is  a  growing  demand  for  better  objective  assessment  scales  that  can  be  used  as  measures  of  recovery  and  well-being of patients.  The  proposed  PhD project  will  focus  on  current  challenges  and  issues  in  assessment  robotics  and  is  expected  to  investigate  HRI  and assessment  methods  provided  by  these  technologies. Using a state of the art rehabilitation robot, the HapticMaster robot, and continuing research based on the success of GENTLE/s and GENTLE/G therapeutic robots, the PhD student is expected to investigate different aspects of assessment, assistance and rehabilitation.

Applicants  should  have  a  very  strong  first  degree  or  preferably  a  Masters  degree  in  Cybernetics, Robotics, Computer  Science,  Mechanical  Engineering,  or  other  relevant  areas,  and  are  expected  to  have  strong  interdisciplinary  interests  (e.g.  in  robotics,  rehabilitation,  assistive  technologies,  neuroscience  and  psychology)  as  well  as  substantial  computer  programming  abilities.  Previous  programming  experience  with  robots  or  haptic  technologies  will  be  preferable. The ideal candidate will be self-motivated with excellent writing and communication skills (in English).

The successful candidate will be eligible for a research studentship award from the University (equivalent to 13,290 per annum bursary plus the payment of the standard UK/EU student fees). If a research studentship is awarded to a Non-European overseas student, he/she will be expected to cover the difference  between home-student fees and international student fees. This difference is currently 5050 per year.

Applicants selected for these studentships will be supervised by Dr Farshid Amirabdollahian and Prof. Kerstin Dautenhahn and will carry out research as part of the Adaptive Systems Research Group at University of Hertfordshire:

Contact  for  informal  inquiries:  Dr  Farshid  Amirabdollahian   (E-mail:

Note, all applications must be made formally via our Science and Technology Research Institute Office as detailed below, quote Reference FA4 and for the topic of: Assistive and rehabilitation robotics.

An application form can be obtained from Mrs Lorraine Nicholls, Research Student Administrator, STRI, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield, Herts, AL10 9AB, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1707 286083, email:

Application deadline is 12th of February and interviews are expected to be scheduled for the first week of March 2010.

Further background:
Human-Robot Interaction is a quickly growing research area with a number of applications in assistive technology and rehabilitation robotics. The growing use of assistive and rehabilitative technologies have opened a new front for research which relies on identifying variant and invariant features in human side of human-machine interaction. These (variant and invariant features) both play a valuable role in retraining and assisting a humans using machines. The long term goal is also to enhance our knowledge of human performance, by encouraging interaction and quantitatively analyzing variant and invariant features. Another important step is to use existing literature and our gained knowledge of human interaction to enable robots to act more human-like. This entails programming robots to be more graceful and have some human-like features. The PhD project will focus on the above topics in the context of assistive, rehabilitative  and  assessment  robotics, and is expected to develop different varieties of interactive games using Haptic interfaces such as PHANToM and HapticMaster. The PhD student will be part of a larger research team consisting of researchers working on different themes in human robot interaction.

The Science and Technology Research Institute provides a very stimulating environment, offering a large number of specialized and interdisciplinary seminars as well as general training opportunities.