[visionlist] [jobs] Idiap/EPFL (Switzerland): 3 PhD positions in perception, robot skill learning and HRI

Jean-Marc Odobez odobez at idiap.ch
Mon Aug 7 09:03:58 -04 2017

The Perception and Activity Understanding group (Jean-Marc Odobez, 
http://www.idiap.ch/~odobez/) and the Robot Learning and Interaction 
group (Sylvain Calinon, http://calinon.ch) at the Idiap Research 
Institute (http://www.idiap.ch) seek 3 PhD candidates for a Swiss NSF 
funded project aiming to study robot skills acquisition through active 
learning and social interaction strategies (ROSALIS, see below).

The 3 PhD students will collaborate together, with 3 axes of research:
1) skill learning (Calinon)
2) perception (Odobez)
3) interaction modeling (Odobez+Calinon).
The preferred axis/axes of research must be mentioned in the application.

The project will start in early 2018, but positions can start earlier.

The ideal PhD candidate should hold a MS degree in computer science, 
engineering, physics or applied mathematics. S/he should have a 
background in statistics, linear algebra, signal processing and 
programming. The positions are for 4 years, provided successful 
progress, and should lead to a dissertation. The selected candidates 
will become doctoral students at EPFL provided acceptance by the 
Doctoral School at EPFL (http://phd.epfl.ch/applicants). Annual gross 
salary ranges from 47,000 CHF (first year) to 50,000 CHF (last year).

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, a detailed CV, and 
the names of three references (or recommendation letters) through the 
Idiap online recruitment system: 

Interviews will start on *September 1st, 2017*. Late applications will 
be treated depending on whether  positions have been filled or not.


Most efforts in robot learning from demonstration are turned toward 
developing algorithms for the acquisition of specific skills from 
training data. While such developments are important, they often do not 
take into account the social structure of the process, in particular, 
that the interaction with the user and the selection of the different 
interaction steps can directly influence the quality of the collected 
data. In ROSALIS, we propose to rely on natural interactions for skill 
learning, involving queries about the skills, and demonstrations made by 
both the human and the robot to show what it has learned.

The research will advance on several fronts. First, for skills 
representation, the robot learners will require an appropriate level of 
plasticity, allowing them to adapt, refine or freeze a skill primitive 
currently being learned. Furthermore, active learning methodologies will 
be developed, relying on heterogeneous sources of information 
(demonstrations, feedback labels, properties), allowing to make 
hypotheses about the skill invariants and to suggest demonstrations or 
queries. Secondly, to allow natural interactions, we will design 
perception algorithms to provide a higher level understanding of people 
behaviors and intentions, including gaze information and multimodal 
action recognition and segmentation. The different mechanisms will be 
integrated for modeling the interaction, implying the coordination 
(selection, timing) of the different interaction units.

We target applications of robots in both manufacturing (with Baxter and 
Franka robots) and home/office environments (with the Pepper robot), 
both requiring re-programming in an efficient and personalized manner.

About Idiap:	

Idiap is an independent, not-for-profit, research institute recognized 
and funded by the Swiss Federal Government, the State of Valais, and the 
City of Martigny. Idiap offers competitive salaries and conditions at 
all levels in a young, high-quality, dynamic, and multicultural 
environment. Idiap is an equal opportunity employer and is actively 
involved in the "Advancement of Women in Science" European initiative. 
The Institute seeks to maintain a principle of open competition (on the 
basis of merit) to appoint the best candidate, provides equal 
opportunity for all candidates, and equally encourage both genders to apply.

Idiap is located in the town of Martigny in Valais, a scenic region in 
the south of Switzerland, surrounded by the highest mountains of Europe, 
and offering exceptional quality of life, exciting recreational 
activities, including hiking, climbing and skiing, as well as varied 
cultural activities. It is within close proximity to Lausanne and 
Geneva. Although Idiap is located in the French part of Switzerland, 
English is the official working language. Free French lessons are also 
provided on a complimentary basis.

For frequently asked questions (FAQs) about living in Switzerland, 
please go to http://www.idiap.ch/en/faq

Jean-Marc Odobez,
Senior Researcher, Idiap Research Institute (http://www.idiap.ch)
Senior Scientist (MER), EPFL
Tel: +41 (0)27 721 77 26
Web: http://www.idiap.ch/~odobez

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