A primary research goal in the area of social robotics is to develop a robotic agent that exhibits socially intelligent behaviour while interacting with human partners in a real-world setting. Despite the clear relationship between social intelligence and fluent, flexible linguistic interaction, in practice few social robots employ anything beyond a basic, template-based process when generating output. This is primarily because of the numerous other technical challenges involved in developing robots to interact with people; however, while basic techniques are often sufficient in the short term, using a more principled method for generation has the potential to improve both the flexibility of the underlying system, as well as the quality of the output generated by that system.
In this PhD project, the student will investigate how advanced techniques drawn from natural language generation (NLG) can be combined with practical social robotics applications. The success of the integration will be evaluated through a combination of subjective user evaluations of the social robots as well as technical evaluations of the flexibility and robustness of the underlying systems. In addition to the scientific results of the PhD, an additional goal is to produce a reusable, open-source component for NLG in the context of social robotics, to allow other researchers in this area to benefit from the results of the research.
The PhD student should have excellent experience, enthusiasm and skills in the areas of natural language processing, computational linguistics, multimodal interaction, and/or human-robot interaction.
For further information, please contact [Email Address Removed].
Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK/EU applicants for 3 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £14,764 for Session 2018-19). However, we will also consider international applicants, if they demonstrate that they can cover the remaining fees from other sources.