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Industrial PhD: "Multimodal Tele-Presence for remote operation of industrial robot systems"
A collaboration between BRL, UK and PPM AS, Norway

Job Overview

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake fundamental research in an industrially grounded real-world setting in order to make industrial robots easier to re-programme. The candidate must, therefore, be interested in pursuing PhD level research at the challenging interface between industrial problems and academic solutions.

A crucial part of the Western European income-base has, and continues to be, created in the context of Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SME) manufacturing. These SMEs are currently in a very challenging situation. On one hand, they are small, flexible and have low overhead costs compared to bigger enterprises. On the other hand, they tend to depend on manual work force, which links their financial competitiveness strongly with wage level, which is significantly higher in Western Europe compared to Eastern Europe and Asia. However, SMEs normally have limited investment funds and competence in robotics and automation, which traditionally has slowed down the rate of uptake in industrial robots.

This situation is beginning to change. Due to the increasing requirements attached to productivity and EHS (Environment, Health and Safety), SMEs are now exposed to ever increasing pressure to invest in industrial robot systems to reduce the wage costs. The factors above have generated a strong internal tension.

In order to help ease this situation, this programme of study will focus on the development of new technology to make the industrial robot easy to program and use, so that even small companies with limited resources and knowledge about robot technology can embrace it. The core of this new robot technology will be efficient utilisation of cognitive multimodal communication, so as to transfer information from the robot system to the human operator in an immersive manner. By these intuitive and efficient means, easy setup and changeover will be achieved and, thereby, cost efficient one-of-a-kind production will become a reality for SMEs.

During the project, an operational advanced robot laboratory will be developed, with facilities for multimodal communication between the robot and the operator. The technology will be generic, but with specialisation for a fast growing sector, i.e., the robot tasks of grinding and deburring.

The programme of study has been organised in collaboration between the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (University of the West of England Bristol, UK) and the high technology, research based industrial robot system integrator, PPM AS in Trondheim, the “Capital of Technology” and the third biggest city in Norway. PPM AS is the project leader.

The candidate will stay altogether for two years at PPM AS in Trondheim Norway and one year at the BRL in Bristol UK. This can be organised in any way that suits an efficient PhD study for the successful candidate, but it is likely to consist of significant blocks of study at each location.

This will be a Norwegian salaried position at PPM AS linked with full-time registration for a PhD programme at the UWE, Bristol. The candidate will, therefore, be formally employed by PPM AS and have conditions (insurance etc.) according to the Norwegian Law, during the entire study.

Salary will be negotiable for a given successful applicant, but in the region 40K EUR gross, subject to the Norwegian tax of approximately 35%. In addition, there is support for travel between the two study locations and to other events, such as conferences.

The applicant must satisfy the academic and operational requirement laid out below.

  • Possesses an MSc in robotics, cybernetics, mechatronics, production engineering, or similar
  • Qualified to be a PhD student at the University of the West of England, Bristol
  • Interested in multi-disciplinary research and development
  • Enjoys laboratory oriented work including development and testing
  • Able to communicate in English as the working language

The objectives of the project are:

  • Educate an Industrial PhD student in the new methodology and theory for cognitive, multimodal communication related to industrial robot systems.
  • Develop and test new technology for multimodal human-robot communication.
  • Develop a methodology to apply the technology above in an efficient manner.
  • Develop intuitive, user-friendly industrial robot technology, so as to significantly lower the threshold to use of industrial robots in SMEs.

Application Instructions

In the first instance, we encourage informal contact, so please write a letter briefly explaining why you are interested in, and appropriate for, taking up this opportunity, then send this and your current CV to the following email addresses with the subject line being “Industrial PhD: Multimodal Tele-Presence”. Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to address these to one or both of the same email addresses.

Salary Band
€40,000
Working Pattern
Full Time,
37 hours per week
Closing Date
Open Ended
Anticipated Interview Date
To Be Confirmed
 Type of Post/Duration
24 Months at PPM AS
12 Months at BRL
 Location
Bristol Robotics Laboratory
PPM AS in Trondheim
Further Details
For details, including how to apply send an email to: Trygve Thomessen and Tony Pipe. Subject line should read: “Industrial PhD: Multimodal Tele-Presence”

PhD Scholarship in 3D Computer Vision
A funded full-time PhD studentship in 3D computer vision in the Centre for Machine Vision within BRL

About the scholarship

Recent years have seen rapid developments in 3D techniques for imaging and visualisation in a wide range of uses, including the capture of morphological and motion data and in the evaluation of both human and animal behaviour. New opportunities, able to benefit from richer 3D data, have emerged and continue to evolve and there is now increased interest in 3D data capture across a wide range of new applications and sectors.

This project is concerned with the development of novel 3D imaging and analysis, both static and dynamic (i.e. moving 3D video), for the automated assessment of body condition, weight and mobility (gait) of animals. A need exists for technology able to simultaneously and unobtrusively provide stress-free monitoring of incremental changes in individual animals. At present these traits are measured by manual visual assessment requiring high skill levels and training but are nevertheless open to the subjectivity of individuals.

This PhD studentship will provide the opportunity for a motivated and capable individual to generate new knowledge regarding the capture and automated assessment of physical attributes and behaviour, important in animal welfare, using the latest techniques in 3D data capture, modelling and analysis. The proposed programme of work will involve working closely within a small team to investigate and implement new technology in a real and challenging application.

Funding details

The scholarship is available from 1 March 2014 and consists of an annual maintenance bursary of £13,726, subject to satisfactory progress, for up to three years. In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for three years (Home/EU rates only). Overseas applicants will be required to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates (approximately £7,565 per annum).

Eligibility criteria

Applicants should hold a first or upper second class honours degree in computing, physical sciences or engineering. Experience in programming is desirable. A recognised English language qualification (minimum IELTS 6.5 with 5.5 in each component or TOEFL overall score of 90 (with at least: 17 listening, 18 reading, 20 speaking and 17 in writing)).

Applicants should be articulate, highly motivated and a team player.

How to apply

Download and complete the application form and send it directly to the UWE Graduate School. Please ensure you include the title of the research project you propose to undertake and outline a research proposal. Please also read the application guidance notes before you apply.

Please also complete the Equal Opportunities form and complete the first section of the Application reference sheet before sending to your nominated referees. Prospective candidates wishing to informally discuss an application should e-mail Professor Melvyn Smith.

Maintenance Bursary
£13,726 Subject to satisfactory progress
Working Pattern
Full Time
Closing Date
3 Feb 2014 at 11:00am
Anticipated Interview Date
To Be Confirmed
 Type of Post / Duration
PhD Studentship,
3 Years
 Location
Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Further Details
If you have not heard from us by 15 February 2014, we thank you for your application but do not wish to pursue it on this occasion.

Research Associate in 3D Computer Vision
Ref: 1397317

Job Overview

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory within UWE is seeking to appoint a Research Associate in 3D Computer Vision for a fixed term period of 3 years. The main duties are:

  • Development of hardware and software
  • Data analysis and modelling/pattern recognition
  • Evaluation of the system and comparison with other methods

Key selection criteria

You will have:

  • Been educated to Doctorate or Masters level in a relevant area of research
  • Experience of research training at Masters or PhD level
  • The ability to organise and work using own initiative
  • The ability to prioritise and plan a varied workload to meet deadlines
  • The ability to communicate verbally and in writing to a range of audiences
Salary Band
£27,318 - £30,728
Working Pattern
Full Time 37 hours/week
Closing Date
7 Mar 2014 at 11:59pm 
Anticipated Interview Date
Within 2 weeks of closing date
 Type of Post / Duration
Fixed Term Post
End Date 28 Feb 2017
 Location
Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Further Details
For full details of how to apply, please click here.

If you have not heard from us within two weeks of the closing date, we thank you for your application but do not wish to pursue it on this occasion.

Research Associate – Mechatronics Engineer
Ref: 1391021

'Being There: Humans and Robots in public spaces' is a 3 year EPSRC funded project where we will investigate human-human and human-robot interactions in a sensorised public space, using automated affect and behavioural analysis. The project aims to create a 'model' public space that is endowed with sensing capabilities to autonomously analyse human social behaviours, within which tele-operated robots will be used to allow the participation of remote users. The space will act as a living lab for use in a series of empirical and experimental social science and psychological studies. These studies will allow comparative analysis of human-human and human-robot interactions in public space, and be utilised to investigate the effects of differences in appearance and behaviours for several robot platforms: NAO, RoboThespian, Peoplebot, and the open source humanoid robot Poppy.

The Poppy platform is a small open source humanoid robot originally developed at Inria in Bordeaux. It will be further developed in Being There to investigate changes in appearance and capabilities on human-robot interaction. This exciting role encompasses the design, implementation and testing of this development work, as part of the Being There project.

Job Overview

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory within the Faculty of Environment and Technology of the University of the West of England are seeking to appoint a Research Associate (humanoid robotics focus) for an externally funded project. The main duties are:

  • To further develop the Poppy humanoid robot (developed by Inria Bordeaux) for use as a tele-operated humanoid robot avatar. This will include, human-like hands for gesturing, embedded control electronics and head designs.
  • To build the Poppy robot and evaluate the developments made both in terms of performance, and their effects on human-robot interaction.
  • To contribute to knowledge through publications of the findings from their research to scientific media.

Key selection criteria

You will have:

  • A Postgraduate degree in robotics or mechatronics
  • Strong practical robot/mechanism design skills and use of CAD design software for rapid prototyping technologies.
  • Strong electronic design skills, and embedded programming.
  • Excellent communication and organisational skills with and ability to work on own initiative, prioritise, and plan a varied workload.
Salary Band
£27,318 - £30,728
Working Pattern
Full Time 37 hours/week
Closing Date
5 Mar 2014 at 11:59pm
Anticipated Interview Date
Within 4 weeks of closing date
 Type of Post / Duration
Fixed Term Post
18 Months Duration
 Location
Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Further Details
For full details of how to apply, please click here.

Bioenergy and Self-Sustainable Systems PhD studentship
Funded PhD Project

About the scholarship

Recent years have seen rapid expansion in the field of Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) with concomitant developments in scientific techniques for performance improvement, characterisation and practical implementation of this technology. A range of demonstrations have included the integration of MFCs in robotics, electronic devices, sensors and smart displays.

This project is concerned with the development and modification of novel 3D printing technologies into robotic platforms with real-time feedback control, informed by the bacterial evolution and adaptation to varying environmental conditions.

This PhD studentship will provide the opportunity for a motivated and capable individual to generate new knowledge regarding MFCs, robotics, 3D printers, and evolution and adaptation, which are important elements in the science of bioenergy extraction and waste utilisation.

The proposed programme of work will involve working closely within a consortium of EU partners (EVOBLISS project) to investigate and implement new technologies in a real and challenging application.

Funding details

The scholarship is available from 1 July 2014 and consists of an annual maintenance bursary of £15,000 subject to satisfactory progress, for up to three and a half years.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for three and a half years (Home/EU rates only). Overseas applicants will be required to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates in each year of study (approximately £7,565 per annum).

Eligibility criteria

Applicants should hold a first or upper second class honours degree in computing, physical sciences or engineering. Experience in programming is desirable.

Please check our English language requirements. Applicants should be articulate, highly motivated and a team player.

How to apply

Download and complete the application form and send it directly to the UWE Graduate School.

Please use the research proposal space to outline how you might approach the project. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your academic insight into the research area at hand.

Please also complete the Equal Opportunities form and complete the first section of the Application reference sheet before sending to your nominated referees.

Prospective candidates wishing to informally discuss the studentship or their research proposal should e-mail Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos. Any queries regarding the application process or eligibility should be directed to the UWE Graduate School. Closing date

The closing date for applications is 11:00, Monday 21 April 2014.

Scholarship Fee
£15,000
Working Pattern
Full Time 37 hours/week
Closing Date
21 Apr 2014 at 11:00am
Anticipated Interview Date
To be confirmed
 Type of Post / Duration
PhD Studentship
3.5 Years Duration
 Location
Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Further Details
For full details of how to apply, please click here.

Page last updated 24 March 2014

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