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AISB opportunities Bulletin Item

PhD studentship in Social Robotics for Robot Home Companions (University of Hertfordshire), UK

Social Robotics for Robot Home Companions

Adaptive Systems Research Group
Science and Technology Research Institute
University of Hertfordshire

Human-Robot Interaction is a quickly growing research area with a number of applications in 
assistive technology and service robotics. The research team at University of Hertfordshire led 
by Prof. Dautenhahn is involved in two European projects relevant to the field of robot home 
companions, namely LIREC ( and ACCOMPANY. A key research issue relevant to both 
projects concerns the adaptation of the robots behaviour e.g. to the individual needs and 
preferences of the person. A personalized robot companion needs to know its users, and be able 
to adapt in long-term interaction.

The PhD project will focus of the topic of social awareness and adaptation, i.e. will develop the 
robots ability to interact with its users, and to learn socially by observing and analyzing the 
interaction. Such research is strongly inspired by biology and psychology concerning the way how 
humans and other animals learn from each other by observation, interaction and communication. The 
group has a strong track record in the area of human-robot interaction, imitation and social 
learning. The PhD student will develop new social learning and adaptation algorithms, as well as 
participate in the preparation, implementation and analysis of human-robot interaction studies.

The PhD student will be part of a larger research team consisting of researchers working in the 
above mentioned European projects, as well as other research group members. The PhD student will 
have the opportunity to work with state of the art home companion robots, including the Care-O-bot
3 robot. 

Applicants are required to have a strong first degree or Masters degree in Computer Science, 
Robotics or a related area relevant to the project. The applicant must have demonstrated the 
ability to plan, implement and document a research project (e.g. MSc or final year project) in 
an area relevant to this studentship. The applicant must have demonstrated significant knowledge 
and skills in the area of machine learning/Artificial Intelligence. An additional background in 
human-computer interaction, cognitive science or psychology is desirable. Excellent programming 
skills are essential and the ability to interface robot sensors and develop software on robots is 
a necessary requirement of this studentship, as well as a general interest in interdisciplinary 
research and willingness to collaborate with researchers from other disciplines. The ideal 
candidate will be self-motivated with good writing and communication skills. The PhD will be 
supervised by Prof. Kerstin Dautenhahn (, whom interested candidates 
are invited to contact via email in the first instance.

Successful candidates are eligible for a research studentship award from the University 
(approximately 13,600 per annum bursary plus the payment of the standard UK student fees).

Research in Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire has been recognized as excellent by
the latest Research Assessment Exercise, with 55% of the research submitted being rated as world 
leading or internationally excellent. 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. The University of Hertfordshire is situated in Hatfield,
just north of London.

Application forms ( 
should be returned to Mrs Lorraine Nicholls, Research Student Administrator, STRI, University of 
Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield, Herts, AL10 9AB, Tel: 01707 286083, l.nicholls @ 
The short-listing process will begin on 14 November2011, interviews will be held early in December 

Prof. Dr. Kerstin Dautenhahn
Professor of Artificial Intelligence
Adaptive Systems Research Group
The University of Hertfordshire, School of Computer Science
College Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB, United Kingdom
Fax: +44-1707-284-303  Tel: +44-1707-284-333