Intelligent Robotics Lab

Welcome to the Intelligent Robotics Lab in the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. We are a research group who study a wide  range of problems, all of which are motivated by the same scientific goal: studying general architectures and methods for planning, reasoning and learning in autonomous agents, especially those with bodies. You can read  more about the group on the overview page, find our outputs on the publications page, and our major activities on the projects page.

Two PhD positions in Robotics and AI

October 5th, 2013

Two PhD positions are available in the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory (IRLab) at the University of Birmingham

Position 1: Learning models of human behaviour

This project is part of an FP7 project called Strands (http://www.strands-project.eu/), involving 30+ people, of whom a team of 6 work at the Birmingham IRLab (http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/groupings/robotics/). In the overall project we investigate the task a robot that must perform 4D mapping. By this we mean producing not just a map of space (3D mapping), but also of the activities that occur within that space.  Such activity maps are necessary for robots to act within a space shared with humans.

The activities performed in an environment by many humans over a period of time can typically be viewed as being composed of many smaller complex events and interactions. Many of these events occur periodically. There are differences across repetitions. The challenge of this PhD is how to recognise and exploit this periodicity in order to build compact models of complex behaviour involving multiple humans over long timescales (hours and days). The work will consider how the ordering and frequency of sub-events can be learned, taking account of the fact that sometimes particular sub-events may not occur, or that their ordering may be changed.

Position 2: Gaze control during robot manipulation of objects

The PacMan project (www.pacman-project.eu) is concerned with modelling objects as hierarchies of parts in 2D and 3D, and using these models to guide manipulation. One important question is given such models how to gather information during grasping.

In this PhD we will look at how to gather information about objects using vision. We will build on a model of visual gaze control previously developed by ourselves. The approach poses the problem of where the robot should look next as one of choosing gaze to maximise the increase in reliability of robot grasping. Speci cally the robot maintains a scene model with a belief filter for each item of interest (e.g. an object) and models the expected e ffect on belief of diff erent candidate gazes. The winning gaze is the one that will lead to the largest expected gain in manipulation performance on a task which is itself modelled as a rewarding process. In this PhD we will do two main pieces of work. First we will extend our gaze control model to consider gazing at parts of
objects suggested by the hierarchical model of object shape that are relevant for grasping. Second we will implement and evaluate the resulting gaze control model on a real robot. Our current model only deals with uncertainty in pose. In this task we will extend that to cover object shape, including missing surfaces.

Environment:

The IRLab at Birmingham is a leading European lab working in many aspects of intelligent robotics. The group has six faculty, seven research fellows and fifteen research students. The lab has a state of the art equipment with access to a wide range of advanced platforms for mobility and manipulation.

You should have a Batchelors or Masters in Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Mathematics or Physics. You should have excellent mathematical and coding skills. You will have graduated in the top 5% of your class.

In the first instance contact Jeremy Wyatt  (jlw@cs.bham.ac.uk), with your CV and transcript. Put “Strands PhD application” or “PacMan PhD application” as appropriate in the subject line. Deadline for applications is the 30th October, late applications will be considered if the appointment process hasn’t gone too far.

PhD in robotic learning of periodic activities

June 16th, 2013

A PhD position is available in our lab.

This project is part of an FP7 project called Strands (http://www.strands-project.eu/), involving 30+ people, of whom a team of 6 work at the Birmingham IRLab (http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/groupings/robotics/). In the overall project we investigate the task a robot that must perform 4D mapping. By this we mean producing not just a map of space (3D mapping), but also of the activities that occur within that space.  Such activity maps are necessary for robots to act within a space shared with humans.

The activities performed in an environment by many humans over a period of time can typically be viewed as being composed of many smaller complex events and interactions. Many of these events occur periodically. There are differences across repetitions. The challenge of this PhD is how to recognise and exploit this periodicity in order to build compact models of complex behaviour involving multiple humans over long timescales (hours and days). The work will consider how the ordering and frequency of sub-events can be learned, taking account of the fact that sometimes particular sub-events may not occur, or that their ordering may be changed.

The IRLab at Birmingham is a leading European lab working in many aspects of intelligent robotics. The group has five faculty, seven research fellows and fifteen research students. The lab has a state of the art equipment with access to a wide range of advanced platforms for mobility and manipulation.

You should have a Batchelors or Masters in Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Mathematics or Physics. You should have excellent mathematical and coding skills. You will have graduated in the top 5% of your class.

In the first instance contact Jeremy Wyatt and Nick Hawes (jlw@cs.bham.ac.uk, nah@cs.bham.ac.uk), with your CV and transcript. Put “Strands Learning PhD application” in the subject line.  Deadline for applications is the 30th June, late applications will be considered if the appointment process hasn’t gone too far.

Paid intern position for mobile app workshop

May 23rd, 2013

THIS POST IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE

Over the summer we plan to develop a schools workshop to engage kids in Computer Science through the development of games for mobile devices. We are looking for a Birmingham student to pay to develop the material for the workshop, specifically the software infrastructure necessary to allow school-age children to develop simple, engaging apps using a drag-and-drop approach (e.g. using App Inventor). To apply for this position you should meet the following criteria:

  • be University of Birmingham student, ideally in the School of Computer Science
  • able to be in Birmingham for 10 weeks over the summer (timing is flexible)
  • a strong programmer, preferably experienced in mobile app development (Android)
  • a good communicator
  • willing to assist in follow-up work, e.g. taking the resulting work into schools in the area

If you’d like to apply, please email a short statement describing your relevant experience and why you’re interested in the position to Nick Hawes (n.a.hawes@cs.bham.ac.uk) by 5pm on June 5th. Please also attach your academic transcripts/software workshop grades. Pay will be up to £180/week.

Recruiting a Robotics Engineer

February 6th, 2013

The Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at the University of Birmingham is seeking a Robotics Engineer and Designer, salary from £27,854 to £38,522 a year. This post will lead procurement, design, maintenance and development of advanced robot hardware and software, with ultimate responsibility for the full range of design from mechanical and electrical through to control and low level software.

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Two Fully-Funded PhD Positions in Intelligent Mobile Robotics

December 21st, 2012

Recruitment for these positions is now at an advanced stage. Whilst exceptional candidates are welcome to contact us, we cannot guarantee all new applications will be considered.

(This is an advert for PhD positions. We also have an advert for postdoc positions on the same project.)

We are looking for two PhD students to work on topics connected with the new FP7-funded project STRANDS ”Spatio-Temporal Representations and Activities for Cognitive Control in Long-Term Scenarios”. STRANDS will develop new technologies to allow mobile robots to acquire and use semantic maps of indoor spaces that capture not just spatial information (walls, doors etc.), but also the spatio-temporal structure of the dynamics which change such spaces (e.g. human activities with objects). To do this, these robots must be able learn and operate reliably in long-term deployments (from weeks to months of autonomous activity). Our robots will be tested over long-term operation in real-world care and building security applications.

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Three Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Intelligent Mobile Robotics

December 21st, 2012

Recruitment for these positions is now at an advanced stage. Whilst exceptional candidates are welcome to contact us, we cannot guarantee all new applications will be considered.

(This is an advert for postdoc positions. We also have an advert for PhD positions on the same project.)

We are looking for up to three Postdoctoral Research Fellows to work on a new FP7-funded project STRANDS ”Spatio-Temporal Representations and Activities for Cognitive Control in Long-Term Scenarios”. STRANDS will develop new technologies to allow mobile robots to acquire and use semantic maps of indoor spaces that capture not just spatial information (walls, doors etc.), but also the spatio-temporal structure of the dynamics which change such spaces (e.g. human activities with objects). To do this, these robots must be able learn and operate reliably in long-term deployments (from weeks to months of autonomous activity). Our robots will be tested over long-term operation in real-world care and building security applications.

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PhD studentship in “Flexible robotic control via co-operation between an operator and an AI based control system”

August 6th, 2012

We’re currently advertising a PhD studentship in “Flexible robotic control via co-operation between an operator and an AI based control system”.

The project is funded for up to 4 years and is an industrial collaboration with DSTL (Defence Science and Technology Laboratories). Applicants must be EU citizens. The project would suit an Engineering / Computer Science graduate with an interest in Robotics and Human Factors or a Psychology graduate who is also a strong programmer with experience in robotics.

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Funded PhD position in Computer Vision and Robotics

August 29th, 2011

Funded PhD position available at University of Birmingham for 3 years, to start October 2011.

A funded research student position is available at the University of Birmingham, UK for three years in the area of computer vision and robotics.

The research by the candidate will focus on computer vision methods that will enable efficient and scalable learning and inference of objects and object categories in the context of robotic tasks such as object manipulation, grasping, and exploiting affordances. The main emphasis will be on developing and evaluating computational approaches to scalable visual recognition of 3D object classes, building on our previous work on compositional hierarchies.

Prospective applicants should have an exceptionally strong academic record, and a solid knowledge of computer science, and/or mathematics, physics and engineering. They must also have demonstrable interest in computer vision and/or pattern recognition and machine learning, as well as very strong programming skills.

Contact: In the first instance please contact Prof Ales Leonardis: ales.leonardis@fri.uni-lj.si and Dr Jeremy L Wyatt: jlw@cs.bham.ac.uk attaching a CV with your academic record.

Dora Explores The Vale

February 8th, 2011

Last summer, we ran an evaluation of our Dora mobile robot in a student flat in Mason Hall on the Vale. The results will be presented in a forthcoming ICRA ‘11 paper titled Home Alone: Autonomous Extension and Correction of Spatial Representations. This work was featured in the New Scientist video feature on Dora, but this video didn’t feature much explanation of the workings of the system. To rectify this, and to accompany the above ICRA paper, we produced the following video showing Dora in action and explaining a little more about how the robot works.

We are searching for a Professor and a Lecturer in Robotics

January 27th, 2011

We are seeking a Professorial Chair in Robotics, together with an associated lectureship. These complement five appointments (two Chairs and three lectureships) being made in Computational Neuroscience, as part of a multi-disciplinary centre in Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics (CN-CR).

Applications are encouraged in a broad range of areas aligned with intelligent robotics and computational vision. These include: cognitive or software architectures for autonomous, intelligent robots, planning for robotics, SLAM, navigation and spatial cognition, technologies for human robot interaction, robot vision, computational or machine vision, evolutionary robotics, bio-inspired and bio-plausible robotics, humanoid robotics, robot learning, robotic manipulation, and automated diagnosis for robot systems.

We are searching for an outstanding individual in any area of intelligent robotics, computational vision, or autonomous systems. In evaluating applications, we will look for a track record of world leading, high impact research, together with an outstanding track record of obtaining external research funding.

To learn more contact: Dr Jeremy Wyatt, School of Computer Science, j.l.wyatt “at” cs.bham.ac.uk in the first instance

To download the details and submit an electronic application online visit: www.hr.bham.ac.uk/jobs . To find the vacancies click on current vacanies and enter the job reference number which is 38191 for the Professor and 43661 for the Lectureship.