[robotics-worldwide] [jobs] PhD in Natural Language Processing for Robotics, at Umea University, Sweden

Thomas Hellström thomash at cs.umu.se
Thu Nov 17 09:32:37 PST 2016

Research topic: Intention driven dialogue management

Umeå University is seeking outstanding candidates for a PhD student 
position in Natural Language Processing for Robotics, at the Department 
of Computing Science. The Department of Computing Science is a dynamic 
environment with around ninety employees representing more than ten 
countries worldwide. We conduct education and research on a broad range 
of topics in Computing Science. The Robotics Group at the department 
conducts research in both Field robotics and Cognitive robotics.


The recruitment is done as part of SOCRATES (SOcial Cognitive Robotic 
Agents in The European Society), a new Marie Skłodowska-Curie European 
Training Network (ETN) comprising 7 universities/research institutes: 
Umeå University and Örebro University in Sweden, Universität Hamburg and 
Fraunhofer IPA, Stuttgart in Germany, CSIC Barcelona in Spain, 
University West of England, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 
Israel. Additional non-academic partners are: Pal Robotics, Adele 
Robots, Alfred Nobel Science Park, Urquhart-Dykes & Lord LLP, Center for 
Digital Innovation, UMINOVA, Asea Brown Boveri, S.A, and Fundació ACE.

Research project

One important part of human-robot communication using natural language 
is dialogue management. This functionality is responsible for deciding 
on the next appropriate robot step based on factors such as dialogue 
history, user intention, and context. For this particular position, the 
research goal is to develop methods that deal with phenomena such as 
sudden changes of topic, need of clarification, ambiguity, turn taking, 
misunderstandings, and non-understandings. The end-goal is to develop 
dialog management methodology that combines data-driven and 
knowledge-based (e.g. automata and graphs) techniques.

The project is a mix of data acquisition of dialogue data, theoretical 
work, and implementation work. Data acquisition is to be carried out in 
an assisted living studio in collaboration with researchers at Bristol 
Robotics Lab. During a secondment to Fraunhofer IPA in Stuttgart, 
visual-sensor based intention recognition will be integrated. During an 
industrial secondment to PAL Robotics in Barcelona, results will be 
implemented and evaluated on the TIAGo robotic platforms.

About the position

The successful applicant will receive a competitive salary for a period 
of four years full time research, provided that expected study and 
research results are achieved. No teaching is expected. The salary will 
be based on the standard Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early-Stage Researcher 
living and mobility allowances. Expected starting date is 1st of April 2017.

Admission requirements

The applicant is required to have completed a second- cycle level 
degree, or completed course requirements of at least 240 ECTS credits, 
of which at least 60 ECTS credits are at second-cycle level, or have an 
equivalent education from overseas, or equivalent qualifications. To 
fullfil the specific entry requirements for doctoral studies in 
computing science, the applicant is required to have completed courses 
at second-cycle level degree equivalent to 60 ECTS credits in computing 
science, or in a subject considered to be directly relevant for the 
specialisation in question.

Experience in natural language processing, machine learning, and 
robotics are important merits, as well as relevant programming skills. 
Since the research is conducted in an international research 
environment, the ability for good teamwork, and a very good command of 
the English language, both written and spoken, are key requirements.

To promote mobility, the following rule applies: At the time of 
recruitment, the applicants must not have resided or carried out their 
main activity in Sweden for more than 12 months during the last 3 years. 
Compulsory national service, work in international organisations, and 
short stays such as holidays are not taken into account. The applicants 
must not, at the time of recruitment, have spent more than 4 years doing 
research, and must not have been awarded a doctoral degree.


Applications must be submitted electronically and be received no later 
than November 30, 2016. For further details see


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