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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”

Research Associate - European Project ReMeDi
Ref:1444653

Job Overview

The ReMeDi project is a 3-year European Union funded project that started in December 2013.

The purpose of the project is to design a robot system that features medical tele-examination of patients. Successful medical treatment depends on a timely and correct diagnosis, but the availability of doctors of various specializations is limited, especially in provincial hospitals or after regular working hours. Medical services performed remotely are emerging, yet current solutions are limited to merely teleconferencing and are insufficient. Use case scenarios targeted in ReMeDi feature a robot capable of performing a physical examination, specifically of the two most widespread examination techniques i) palpation, i.e. pressing the patients stomach with the doctor’s hand and observing the stiffness of the internal organs and the patient’s feedback (discomfort, pain) as well as ii) ultrasonographic examination. Beside quality teleconferencing, ReMeDi will feature a mobile robot (placed in a hospital) equipped with a lightweight and inherently safe manipulator with an advanced sensorized head and/or ultrasonic probe; and the remote interface (placed at the doctor’s location) equipped with sophisticated force-feedback, active vision and locomotion capabilities. The system is incrementally built following a user-centered design approach, and its usability with respect to the patient and the examining doctor is extensively studied in real world scenarios of cardiac examination. ReMeDi will go beyond classical telepresence concepts: It will capture and process multi-sensory data (integrating visual, haptic, speech, patient’s emotions and physiological responses) into perception and reasoning capabilities making ReMeDi a diagnostic assistant offering context-dependent and proactive support for the doctor.

A key component of this project is the development of a high-fidelity haptic teleoperated palpation system that allows rendering a large range of impedances by exploiting advanced teleoperation techniques combined with high-quality sensing and haptic feedback devices.

Your role will be the mechanical design, control and evaluation of a haptic palpation interface that mimicks the patient’s abdomen the doctor interacts with and of a remote tactile palpation end-effector, which mounted on a robotic arm will allow capturing haptic properties of the remote environment. The design has to consider, both, kinaesthetic and tactile information to be captured and displayed.

Post 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) to work on the European Union funded ReMeDi project.

The main duties are:

  • To design and control a haptic palpation interface
  • To design and control a tactile palpation end-effector
  • To evaluate the performance of the developed system in experiments
  • To contribute to knowledge through publications of the findings from their research to scientific media.

Key selection criteria

  • Master in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or Computer Science
  • Previous experience in mechanical design and the usage of CAD tools
  • Graduate experience in control and sensing principles
  • Familiarity with the roles and responsibilities of a researcher working in a laboratory environment
  • Ability to organise self to maximise effectiveness particularly when faced with competing priorities and tight timescales

Who we are:

Bristol Robotics Laboratory is the leading and most comprehensive academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK. It is a collaborative partnership between the University of the West of England (UWE, Bristol) and the University of Bristol, and home to a vibrant community of over 100 academics and industry practitioners, which lead current thinking in service robotics, intelligent autonomous systems and bio-engineering.

An internationally recognised Centre of Excellence in Robotics, BRL’s state-of-the-art laboratory covers an area of over 3,000 square metres, and houses specialist workshops and wet labs, and two flying arenas with multiple 3D motion capture systems. It is a unique collaboration that harnesses the collective strengths of its university partners, and brings together the best expertise from industry and the academic community to spearhead Britain’s efforts to be a world leader in modern advanced robotics.

***IMPORTANT - PLEASE NOTE***

When submitting your application please include cover letter, CV, transcripts (courses taken including grades) as well as detailed information on theses and projects performed and two reference letters. Applications missing some of this information cannot be considered.

Salary Band
£27,864 - £31,342
Working Pattern
Full Time,
37 hours per week
Closing Date
4 Feb 2015 at 23:59
Anticipated Interview Date
Within 4 weeks of Closing Date
 Type of Post/Duration
Until 30 Nov 2016
 Location
Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Further Details
For details, including how to apply please click here

Research Associate - European Project MOBOT
Ref:1445068

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 to work on the European Union funded MOBOT project.

The main duties are:

  • To design, implement and run human-human experiments
  • To computationally model coordination and decision-making processes in human-human dyads based on models inspired by cognitive science and based on reinforcement learning and optimization as well as modelling low-level motor control functions based on the implementation of motor control theories
  • To implement the computational models on a series of robotic platforms using ROS and PreemptRT
  • To evaluate the performance of the achieved human-robot collaboration in experiments and to run statistical evaluations
  • To contribute to knowledge through publications of the findings from their research to scientific media

MOBOT (Intelligent Active Mobility Assistance Robot integrating Multimodal Sensory Processing, Proactive Autonomy and Adaptive Interaction) is a 3-year European Union funded project that started in February 2013. Its purpose is to support mobility and thus enforce fitness and vitality by developing intelligent active mobility assistance robots for indoor environments that provide user-centred, context-adaptive and natural support. The main driving concept that we have been developing, envisions cognitive robotic assistants that act (a) proactively by realizing an autonomous and context-specific monitoring of human activities and by subsequently reasoning on meaningful user behavioural patterns, as well as (b) adaptively and interactively, by analysing multi-sensory and physiological signals related to gait and postural stability, and by performing adaptive compliance control for optimal physical support and active fall prevention.

An ongoing key methodology in MOBOT is to analyse human-assisted sit-to-stand transfers and assisted walking in human-human dyads, to derive computational models from this human-human interaction and to transfer gained knowledge to human-robot dyads (human and mobility assistive robot). This role is to continue our work in encompassing the investigation of typical role and strategy distributions adopted by partners and their evolution over time as well as the modelling of negotiation and decision-making processes to be joined with attempts of modelling human movements based on theories of human motor control.

Key selection criteria

You will have:

  • Masters qualification in Electrical Engineering or Computer Science
  • Programming skills in C/C++, Matlab/Simulink
  • Ability to organise self to maximise effectiveness particularly when faced with competing priorities and tight timescales
  • Familiarity with the roles and responsibilities of a researcher working in a laboratory environment.

***IMPORTANT - PLEASE NOTE***

When submitting your application please include cover letter, CV, transcripts (courses taken including grades) as well as detailed information on theses and projects performed and two reference letters. Applications missing some of this information cannot be considered.

Salary Band
£27,864 - £31,342
Working Pattern
Full Time,
37 hours per week
Closing Date
4 Feb 2015 at 23:59
Anticipated Interview Date
Within 4 weeks of Closing Date
 Type of Post/Duration
Until 30 Nov 2016
 Location
Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Further Details
For details, including how to apply please click here

Page last updated 16 January 2015

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