[robotics-worldwide] [jobs] 2 Fully Funded PhD Positions at Italian Institute of Technology in the Cognitive Robotics and Interaction Lab of the Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department

Alessandra Sciutti alessandra.sciutti at gmail.com
Fri May 12 05:23:15 PDT 2017

Apologies for cross-posting

2 PhD Openings at the Cognitive Robotics and Interaction Lab 
Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department
Italian Institute of Technology

In the spirit of the doctoral School on Bioengineering and Robotics the PhD
Program for the curriculum “Cognitive Robotics, Interaction and
Rehabilitation Technologies” provides interdisciplinary training at the
interface between technology and life-sciences. The general objective of the
program is to form scientists and research technologists capable of working
in multidisciplinary teams on projects where human factors play a crucial
role in technological development and design. Robotics and neuroscience
researchers in RBCS share, as a fundamental scientific objective, the study
of physical and social interaction in humans and machines (www.iit.it/rbcs

Among the different research themes proposed I would like to advertise these
two topics:


The ideal candidates are students with a higher level university degree
willing to invest extra time and effort in blending into a multidisciplinary
team composed of neuroscientists, engineers, psychologists, physicists
working together to investigate brain functions and realize intelligent
machines, rehabilitation protocols and advanced prosthesis.
International applications are encouraged and will receive logistic support
with visa issues, relocation, etc.
Below you can find more details related to the positions and the
instructions on how to apply

Application deadline: *****13 June 2017, Noon,  Italian time*****

Make humanoids understand human goals
Tutors: Dr. Alessandra Sciutti, Dr. Francesco Rea, Prof. Giulio Sandini
Institute: IIT (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia)
Research Unit: Robotics, Brain and Cogntive Sciences (https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__iit.it_RBCS&d=DwIFAw&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=jjZMTBAkvidrGMd6Bzjrpop2DwpYOplnNVHPGaG2yvY&s=_sbsUQ7-o3A54L19iZe85hsdwvDlalCCoBxmyHFVTLk&e= )

Description: Although traditionally collaboration has been modeled as
relying mainly on a planning process, it is nowadays acknowledged that what
makes human interactions fast and efficient is emergent coordination, a
subconscious mechanism based on a tight link between action execution and
perception. Neurophysiological evidence indicate that action observation
activates in the observer a motor representation of the same action learned
through execution, which yields to a rapid and automatic understanding of
the goals and intentions of others. Hence, visual action understanding
requires a sensori-motor action representation, previously built by
performing the action. This mechanism supports also phenomena like mutual
adaptation, synchronization and anticipation, which cut drastically the
delays and the need of complex verbal instructions in the interaction and
result in the establishment of joint intentions. It is crucial to have a
similar process working in humanoid robots, in order to make human-robot
interaction intuitive and natural. 
The general aim of this project is to provide the humanoid robot iCub with
visuo-motor matching skills, enabling it to build a multimodal, sensorimotor
representation of its actions to be exploited to understand human goals. In
particular the robot will have to learn the motor (efference copy) and
sensory (visual, joint angles, forces) consequences of its own actions and
find how to map these with the visual representation of human behaviors
obtained through the observation of human actions. The work might take
advantage of a computational system already available on the robot designed
to localize the portion of the scene containing biological motion and
extract some of its visual features . 

Requirements:  degree in robotics, bioengineering, computer science,
computer engineering, or related disciplines, attitude for problem solving,
c++ programming. A background on machine learning is an asset. 

• Vignolo A., Rea. F.,Noceti N.,  Sciutti A., Odone F.  & Sandini G. 2016,
‘Biological movement detector enhances the attentive skills of humanoid
robot iCub’ in IEEE/RAS International Conference of Humanoids Robotics,
Cancun, Mexico November 15-17 2016.
• Sciutti A., Ansuini C., Becchio C. & Sandini G. 2015, ‘Investigating the
ability to read others’ intentions using humanoid robots’, Frontiers in
Psychology – Cognitive Science, vol. 6,no. 1362
• L. Craighero, G. Metta, G. Sandini, and L. Fadiga, “The mirror-neurons
system: data and models.,” Prog. Brain Res., vol. 164, pp. 39–59, Jan. 2007
Contacts: Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the perspective
tutors before they submit their application: alessandra.sciutti at iit.it ,
francesco.rea at iit.it , giulio.sandini at iit.it


Embodied “social” intelligence for human robot interaction 
Tutors: Francesco Rea, PhD; Alessandra Sciutti, PhD; Prof. Giulio Sandini

Institute: IIT (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia)
Research Unit: Robotics, Brain and Cogntive Sciences (https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__iit.it_RBCS&d=DwIFAw&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=jjZMTBAkvidrGMd6Bzjrpop2DwpYOplnNVHPGaG2yvY&s=_sbsUQ7-o3A54L19iZe85hsdwvDlalCCoBxmyHFVTLk&e= )

Description: Purposive behavior with anticipation of the consequences of
one’s actions and other’s actions are critical desirable features if robots
are to truly become companions in everyday tasks. It is one objective of the
pilot study in Robocom++[1] to adopt a brain-guided approach to enable
robotic companions to instantaneously simulate the perspective of the
“other” (like humans), thereby engaging in cooperative behaviors. 
Presently, while emerging trends in neurosciences like the discovery of the
default mode network [2,3], action observation network [4,5] are
revolutionizing our understanding of the cortical basis of social
intelligence, the underlying mechanistic/computational mechanisms  remain
challenging research topics. The aim of this project is to address the
objectives of Robocom++ and to provide computational processes that allow us
to “perceive, act and remember” and to recycle them in order to simulate the
perspective of others. In other words we aim at developing mechanisms that
allow us to reuse our own episodic experiences to adopt the viewpoint of the
other by analogy.
The PhD program will comprise at least one of the following research topics:
• To represent and simulate other’s actions in humanoid robots
• To develop reciprocal recognition of agency in HRI
• To enable perspective taking from episodic memory in humanoid robots
• To integrate Embodied Social Intelligence in a framework of cognitive
• To validate Humanoid Social Behaviour in ecological context

Requirements: degree in robotics, bioengineering, computer science, computer
engineering, or related disciplines, attitude for problem solving, c++
programming. A background on machine learning is an asset. 

1. https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__sssa.bioroboticsinstitute.it_news_robocomplusplus&d=DwIFAw&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=jjZMTBAkvidrGMd6Bzjrpop2DwpYOplnNVHPGaG2yvY&s=_ZDm9FAAV74NvbRcc61lYpKve9j-ajFb_vaGiUwErZc&e= 
2. Mohan V, Sandini G, Morasso P. (2014). A neural framework for
organization and flexible utilization of episodic memory in "cumulatively"
learning baby humanoids, Neural Computation 26(12), 2692-2734, MIT Press.
3. Schacter, D.L., Addis, D.R., Hassabis, D., Martin, V.C., Spreng, R.N.,
Szpunar, K.K. (2012). The Future of Memory: Remembering, Imagining, and the
Brain. Neuron, 76, 677–694.
4. Gallese, V., Sinigaglia, C.  (2011). What is so special with Embodied
Simulation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 15(11):512-9.
5. Bressler, S,L., Menon, V. (2010). Large-scale brain networks in
cognition: emerging methods and principles. Trends in cognitive sciences
Volume 14, Issue 6, June 2010, Pages 277–290

Contacts: Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the perspective
tutors before they submit their application: francesco.rea at iit.it,
alessandra.sciutti at iit.it, giulio.sandini at iit.it

How to apply
Please note that the positions are available through the PhD course of
Bioengineering and Robotics, curriculum on Cognitive Robotics, Interaction
and Rehabilitation Technologies, offered jointly by IIT and the University
of Genoa.
The official calls are available here: https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.iit.it_phd-2Dschool&d=DwIFAw&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=jjZMTBAkvidrGMd6Bzjrpop2DwpYOplnNVHPGaG2yvY&s=0MByYiSrRxr1MuE51PIN3TYRuT-XYcPM5YXCyw8nRFo&e=   under
the Curriculum “Cognitive Robotics, interaction and rehabilitation
Please have a look at the "tips and tricks" section, which contains detailed
instructions on how to apply and a list of documents you have to present. 
The link to the on-line application page is:
In case of problems or questions related to the application procedure,
please contact: anastasia.bruzzone at iit.it   

Application deadline: *****13 June 2017, Noon,  Italian time******

Alessandra Sciutti (PhD)
Researcher, Robotics Brain and Cognitive Sciences Unit 
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
Center for Human Technologies 
Via Enrico Melen 83, Building B
16152 Genova, Italy
tel: +39 010  8172 210
email: alessandra.sciutti at iit.it 
website: https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.iit.it_people_alessandra-2Dsciutti&d=DwIFAw&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=0w3solp5fswiyWF2RL6rSs8MCeFamFEPafDTOhgTfYI&m=jjZMTBAkvidrGMd6Bzjrpop2DwpYOplnNVHPGaG2yvY&s=_iSkC_FR21pZRcpdwP3Lhe1AUUVZJCedslbzR3R_tDE&e= 

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