Tony Belpaeme

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PhD opportunity – we are looking for a team mate!

Update: this position has been filled. We’re welcoming Emmanuel Senft to the team from October 2014 onwards.

We are looking for a team mate!

This is the age of robots, where robots are not just found in factories picking and placing things, but will enter our daily lives: places where no robot has ever gone before. However, robots currently have limited autonomous social capabilities. For this to change, advances in artificial intelligence need to be matched up with advances in robotics.

This PhD looks into the science and technology of action selection for social humanoid robots. Given sensor input, prior knowledge and dose of social cognition, would it be possible for the robot to autonomously respond in a social manner? Currently almost all social robots need a human hand to operate well: the “Wizard of Oz” idea, where a human operator takes over when the robot is stuck. What is needed to move away from WoZ and build fully autonomous social interaction?

You will be working in the context of the DREAM project (, a multinational European project which studies the science and tech behind the robot-enhanced therapy (RET), specifically targeted at young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. DREAM uses a range of robots, but through its collaboration with Aldebaran the use of the Nao humanoid is central to our research.

Applicants should have (at least) a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification. We encourage applicants with a background in computer science, artificial intelligence, robotics and/or cognition science.

We expect candidates to be confident programmers (C++ experience recommended): you will spend a considerable amount of time programming and hacking robots and their artificial intelligence, which is not for the fainthearted. A keen interest in science and discovery is a prerequisite, as is not being afraid of international travel to meetings and events.

If you wish to have an informal chat, please contact Tony Belpaeme ( or contact any of the mad people in the lab. However, applications must be made via the official application site.

More details on funding and the application process can be found at FindAPhD. Applications close at noon on Monday, 28 July 28 2014. Quick!

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