Umeå universitet, Institutionen för datavetenskap

Research topic: Intention recognition by language analysis and task planning

Umeå University is seeking outstanding candidates for a PhD student position in Human-Robot Interaction at the Department of Computing Science. The Department of Computing Science is a dynamic environment with around ninety employees representing more than ten countries worldwide. We conduct education and research on a broad range of topics in Computing Science. The Robotics Group at the department conducts research in both Field robotics and Cognitive robotics.

The recruitment is done as part of SOCRATES (SOcial Cognitive Robotic Agents in The European Society), a new Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network (ETN) comprising 7 universities/research institutes: Umeå University and Örebro University in Sweden, Universität Hamburg and Fraunhofer IPA, Stuttgart in Germany, CSIC Barcelona in Spain, University West of England, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. Additional non-academic partners are: Pal Robotics, Adele Robots, Alfred Nobel Science Park, Urquhart-Dykes & Lord LLP, Center for Digital Innovation, UMINOVA, Asea Brown Boveri, S.A, and Fundació ACE.

In total 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) will be recruited as PhD students for research on various aspects of social robotics aiming at eldercare. The wide range of projects covers a spectrum from technical design of hardware and interaction methodology, to personalisation, user studies, and robot ethics. The researchers will receive training in both academic and entrepreneurial spirit and expertise, well suited for a career in both academy and industry. The training includes a research project, courses, seminars, and workshops. An overview of all available positions can be found at

Research project
For this particular position, the research goal is to develop methodology to infer human intention from natural language sentences of varying linguistics types. For imperative sentences, we have earlier shown how semantic roles can be mapped to intention using machine learning, and will extend this work by using dependency parsing for analysis of compound noun phrases. For declarative sentences, a task planner will be incorporated to infer implicit intention from general planning goals and current state information. During a secondment to Fraunhofer IPA in Stuttgart, visual-sensor based intention recognition will be integrated. During an industrial secondment to PAL Robotics in Barcelona, results will be implemented and evaluated on the TIAGo robotic platforms.

About the position
The successful applicant will receive a competitive salary for a period of four years full time research, provided that expected study and research results are achieved. No teaching is expected. The salary will be based on the standard Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early-Stage Researcher living and mobility allowances. Expected starting date is 1st of April 2017.

Admission requirements
The applicant is required to have completed a second- cycle level degree, or completed course requirements of at least 240 ECTS credits, of which at least 60 ECTS credits are at second-cycle level, or have an equivalent education from overseas, or equivalent qualifications. To fulfil the specific entry requirements for doctoral studies in computing science, the applicant is required to have completed courses at second-cycle level degree equivalent to 60 ECTS credits in computing science, or in a subject considered to be directly relevant for the specialisation in question.

Experience in natural language processing, machine learning, and robotics are important merits, as well as relevant programming skills. Since the research is conducted in an international research environment, the ability for good teamwork, and a very good command of the English language, both written and spoken, are key requirements.

To promote mobility, the following rule applies: At the time of recruitment, the applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity in Sweden for more than 12 months during the last 3 years. Compulsory national service, work in international organisations, and short stays such as holidays are not taken into account. The applicants must not, at the time of recruitment, have spent more than 4 years doing research, and must not have been awarded a doctoral degree.

A complete application should contain the following documents:

  • A cover letter including a description of your research interests, your reasons to apply for the position, and your contact information
  • A curriculum vitae If applicable,
  • A copy of completed BSc and/or MSc thesis and other original research publications
  • Copies of degree certificates, including documentation of completed academic courses and obtained grades
  • Documentation of programming skills and software development experience
  • Contact information for two persons willing to act as references

Applications must be submitted electronically using the e-recruitment system MyNetwork Pro, and be received no later than November 30, 2016. Reference number: AN 2.2.1-1050-16. Log on to the system and apply via the button at the bottom of the web page.

The procedure for recruitment for the position is in accordance with the Higher Education Ordinance (chapter 12, 2§) and the decision regarding the position cannot be appealed. The recruitment aims at a balanced gender distribution, and in particular women are encouraged to apply.

For additional information, please contact Professor Thomas Hellström

Umeå University is dedicated to providing creative environments for learning and work. We offer a wide variety of courses and programmes, world leading research, and excellent innovation and collaboration opportunities. More than 4300 employees and 32 000 students have already chosen Umeå University.

We look forward to receiving your application!

Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
Contract type Full time
First day of employment April 1, 2017
Salary Månadslön
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-1050-16
  • Thomas Hellström, professor, +46 90 7867759
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-786 53 65
  • SEKO, 090-786 52 96
  • ST, 090-786 54 31
Published 29.Aug.2016
Last application date 30.Nov.2016 11:59 PM CET

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