Research on cognitive robotics focuses on the design of intelligent behaviour and sensorimotor and cognitive skills in robots, by taking inspiration from human cognition (psychology) and brain mechanisms (neuroscience). The specific approach of Developmental Robotics aims at modelling the incremental stages of the acquisition of behavioural and cognitive skills, copying the developmental stages in child psychology (cf. Cangelosi and Schlesinger’s 2015 book on "Developmental Robotics: From Babies to Robots").
Cognitive robots can also be used for studies on human-robot interaction (HRI). For example, when modelling the incremental, developmental stages of theory of mind skills in robots, one can study how this facilitates trust and interaction between robots and people. This can be applied to social robot companions for elderly, robot tutors for children, joint action and collaboration between people and robots (cobots).
The new Cognitive Robotics Lab at the University of Manchester, led by Professor Angelo Cangelosi, hosts a "Robot Home", with a living lab for human-robot interaction experiments. The lab has access to various humanoid robot platforms (iCub, Pepper, Sawyer and Nao) and other interactive robots (e.g. Giraff). The Lab is involved in numerous projects funded by the EU H2020 programme, by the US Air Force Lab, and by companies such as Honda. Current projects include MoveCare on robot companions for the elderly, THRIVE++ on trust and theory of mind, DeCIFER on the robot’s understanding of human’s actions and goals, and the three Marie Sk??odowska Curie grants DCOMM, SECURE and STRoNA on machine learning for language and action. The student will collaborate with other students and postdocs from these projects. The student can also participate in collaborative projects with the Alan Turing Institute.
Perspective PhD students with an interest in cognitive robotics and human-robot interaction can contact the supervisor Angelo Cangelosi ([email protected]
) for informal discussion. Below is a list of indicative research topics:
- language development in humanoid robots
- embodied cognition and robotics
- developmental robotics
- neural network models of language learning
- trust in human-robot interaction
- modelling abstract words and numerical cognition in robots
- robot companions for elderly and health and social care
- robot tutors
- cobot for joint action between people and robots