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PhD Studentship in Human-Computer Interaction: developing the state of the art of human-robot interactions (HRI) whilst developing a semi-autonomous wheelchair

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  • Full or part time
    Dr C Holloway
    Dr T Carlson
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in the UCL Interaction Centre (UCLIC,, funded by a Horizon 2020 project grant focussed on crowd navigation of robots. The PhD studentship is to support the design of a crowd-aware smart, with a focus on human-robot interaction. The scholarship is for up to 3 years from June 2018, and covers tuition fees at the UK/EU level, and a stipend at the standard EPSRC rate.


Please be aware this funding is only available to UK/EU candidates who have (a) settled status in the UK, with no restrictions on how long they can stay and (b) been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (for education purposes is fine). For more information:

Person Specification

The successful applicant will possess a strong bachelor’s degree (1st or 2:1) or Master's degree in Human-Computer Interaction or a related discipline. Candidates will ideally have some relevant previous research experience, including working and designing with disabled people, and should have excellent communication and presentation skills.

Project Details

CROWDBOT (aka “Safe Robot Navigation in Dense Crowds”) is a EUR 4M Horizon 2020 consortium of 5 universities and 2 industrial partners: INRIA, France (co-ordinator); EPFL, Switzerland; ETHZ, Switzerland; RWTH, Germany; UCL, UK; SBR Europe, France; and LOC GmbH, Germany.

CROWDBOT brings together world-leading robotics experts to develop the next-generation of robots capable of navigating crowded environments. UCL will lead a core workpackage on the co-design and evaluation of the CROWDBOT system, as well as developing one of the demonstrators: a crowd-aware smart wheelchair. This project complements several of our ongoing projects and initiatives by adding new capabilities to overcome some of the barriers to translation of smart wheelchairs beyond the lab/clinic: the ISI4NAVE Inria associated team, which investigates innovative sensors and interfaces; the INTERREG VA ADAPT project, which is creating a smart powered wheelchair platform and training simulator; the GDI Hub, which aims to improve the lives of disabled people worldwide; Aspire Create, a partnership between UCL Faculty of Medical Science, UCL Faculty of Engineering, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and the Aspire Charity, which aims to develop technology to improve quality of life for people living with spinal cord injury; UCLIC, which is a world leading Centre of Excellence in Human-Computer Interaction; and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which is fast becoming a world leading test bed in the invention and trialling of new approaches to meeting the global city-based challenges of our time of which establishing clean, efficient and accessible ways to move people and goods around our city is one.

PhD Details

Interactions with semi-autonomous wheelchairs

The PhD studentship is co-supervised by Dr Cathy Holloway by Dr Tom Carlson. The principle aim of the PhD project is to develop the state of the art of human-robot interactions (HRI) whilst developing a semi-autonomous wheelchair that will adapt its trajectory to unexpected movements of people in its vicinity. It is expected that the PhD project will advance any of the following aspects of HRI:
1) The development of novel interactions for the wheelchair user which result in a better driving experience and greater independence
2) The development of semi-autonomous wheelchair that can move in crowded environments
3) Exploration of the differences in perception of the public to robots which are clearly driven by someone and one which is autonomous
4) The role of emotion in HRI
Start Date: October 2018

Application Procedure

Applications should submit their applications through the online UCL Select system
1. A personal statement and research proposal describing the preferred research question, a summary of some relevant literature, and an outline of the type of research to be conducted (including ideas about which methods would be appropriate).
2. Examples of academic writing and outputs from past work (e.g. a dissertation or assignment)
3. Academic transcripts
4. A CV

Questions about the studentship can be made to the individual academics listed with each project. Queries about the application process can be made to Sarah Turnbull: [Email Address Removed]

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