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Fully funded PhD Studentship in Safe Human-Robot Interaction for Agriculture: developing autonomous fleets of robots for in-field transportation to aid and complement human fruit pickers

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P Baxter
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

We are offering a fully-funded PhD studentship in safe human-robot interaction as part of the RAS-Berry project. This project will develop autonomous fleets of robots for in-field transportation to aid and complement human fruit pickers. In particular, the project will consider strawberry production in polytunnels. A solution for autonomous in-field transportation will significantly decrease strawberry production costs and be the first step towards fully autonomous robotic systems for berry production. The project will develop a dedicated mobile platform together with software components for fleet management, long-term operation and safe human-robot collaboration in strawberry production facilities.

In this context, we are looking to recruit a PhD candidate to focus on the communicative and spatial interaction of the mobile robot platforms with the human strawberry pickers to facilitate in-field transportation. Specifically, the area of exploration will be comprised of interpreting vocal and/or gestural feedback/commands from the human to the robot, and the appropriate communication of the robot’s state and intent to the human, in manner that reduces cognitive load and prior training for the human.

For this position, we seek an individual with a good technical background (computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics, etc.), who can evidence excellent programming skills (C++ and Python desired, similar will be considered). Of benefit would be experience with at least one of the following (with related experience beneficial): action recognition techniques, sensor fusion methods, human-robot interaction methodologies, and robot control through ROS.

RAS-Berry is a collaboration between the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and University of Lincoln, and is looking to employ a total of three postdocs and four PhD students. The successful candidates will have access to state-of-the art research farms that will be equipped with production facilities with industrial standard. The project also has access to a wide variety of agricultural robots with advanced sensors and tools. This equipment is already installed on the research farms and will be made available to the project. There is a strong focus on developing solutions that are robust in realistic scenarios, and extensive field testing is therefore required. In order to coordinate the work of everyone involved in the project, several workshops will be held both in Norway and the UK.

In the first instance please contact Dr Paul Baxter ([email protected]), with your CV. Please put “RAS-Berry HRI PhD” in the subject line. Applications will be assessed as they arrive and, if appropriate, we will contact applicants to discuss things further.

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