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Robotic Manipulation with Vision and Touching Sensing


   Department of Engineering

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  Dr Shan Luo  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

We have a fully-funded, 3.5-year PhD studentship available at the Department of Engineering, King’s College London, starting from September 2022. We are seeking a highly creative and motivated applicant with a keen interest in doing research in robot perception and manipulation, with robot sensing, machine/deep learning and computer vision techniques.

This project aims to develop techniques for the robotic manipulation with robot tactile sensing and vision. Robot manipulation has been widely applied in industry for tasks such as warehouse operation and assembly. Research on robot manipulation has mainly focused on handling rigid objects so far. However, many important application domains require manipulating non-rigid or flexible objects such as fabrics, hoses and cables. Such objects are far more challenging to handle, as they can exhibit a much greater diversity of behaviours. The challenges involved, such as sensing capabilities (touch sensing and robot vision), perception of object properties and manipulation planning, need to be addressed to unlock the full potential of robot manipulation. This project will directly address these challenges by blending ideas coming from different disciplines including robotics, machine learning and computer vision. It is expected to create a robotic system to manipulate the fabrics autonomously, leveraging perception and learning through interaction. 

The successful candidate will join the Robot Perception Lab led by Dr Shan Luo. The PhD project will work closely with the team members at the lab, particularly ones working on the EPSRC funded project “ViTac: Visual-Tactile Synergy for Handling Flexible Materials”. The lab has strong connections with industry, e.g., Unilever, Shadow Robot Company, Facebook AI Research (FAIR), and has been in collaboration with researchers at MIT, CMU and RWTH Aachen University.

King’s is a leading university providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. We are ranked sixth in the UK for the quality and quantity of research activity (Research Excellence Framework, 2014). King’s has played a major role in many of the advances that shape modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. King’s continues to lead the way on research and pioneers new ideas to make the world a better place. The Department of Engineering at King’s is located on the Strand Campus of King’s College London where the studentship will be based.

Requirements:

The successful candidate will hold a relevant degree (Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical or Electrical Engineering) as well as good programming skills and a strong mathematical background. Experience in robotics and/or statistical machine learning is a plus.

She/he must be highly motivated and must have:

- Experience in writing scientific reports

- Excellent communication skills in English (both writing and speaking)

- A good attitude towards team working in an international environment

- Solid background in computer programming (for example, Python, C++, Matlab)

- Proficiency in spoken and written English

- (Preferred) Previous coursework and/or practical experience in machine learning, especially in the deep learning libraries (Tensorflow, Torch etc.)

- (Preferred) Previous coursework and/or practical experience with ROS and robot platforms

- (Preferred) Solid background in mathematics

We offer:

- You will work at one of the world leading universities, and have the opportunity to work towards your PhD with a group of excellent scientists in Robotics

- You will receive funding for the standard minimum stipend and fees up to a Home rate. 

- Access to robot facilities in the lab, e.g., UR5 robot arms, ABB YuMi dual-arm robot, multiple robotic grippers and many other robot platforms

- Collaboration opportunities in both academia and industry (potential placements at the project partners)

 

Application Documentation

To apply for the scholarship, applicants must first apply for admission to the PhD programme at King’s through the online Admissions Portal (https://apply.kcl.ac.uk/). Applications must be complete with all relevant supporting documentation, by this deadline. The application must name Dr Shan Luo as the potential supervisor within the research proposal section of their application.

In addition, to the supporting documents requested by the Admissions Portal, the application must include:

- A curriculum vitae.

- A brief research proposal based on the above project description (maximum 2 A4 pages, minimum font size 11pt, 2cm margins).

Non-UK applicants must additionally provide:

- A statement and supporting evidence showing their ability to cover full time tuition fees.

The above documents must be received by 20th April 2022, 5pm London time.

It is strongly advised to contact Dr Shan Luo ([Email Address Removed]) to discuss the research plans prior to the application.

Selection

As part of selection, short-listed candidates will be invited for interview (by MS Teams or Zoom). Please note that, only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Funding Details

The scholarship will provide funds to cover home tuition fees and living costs in line with UK Research Council funding levels.

Length of Award

3.5 years (full time PhD).

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