Understanding all aspects of Human-Robot interaction: the programming that coordinates a robot’s actions with human action as well the human appreciation and trust in the robot.
At present, there are many sensors and actuators in every device – so they may become embedded in a physical reality. For robots that move around in a specific setting there is a pressing need for the development of proper methods of control and joint-action. The embedded, embodied nature of human cognition is an inspiration for this, and vice versa. Computational modelling of such tasks can give insight into the nature of human mental processing. In the Master’s specialisation in Robot Cognition you’ll learn all about the sensors, actuators and the computational modelling that connects them.
Making sense of sensor data – developing artificial perception – is no trivial task. The perception, recognition and even appreciation of sound stimuli for speech and music (i.e. auditory scene analysis) require modelling and representation at many levels and the same holds for visual object recognition and computer vision. In this area, vocal and facial expression recognition (recognition of emotion from voices and faces) is a rapidly growing application area. In the area of action and motor planning, sensorimotor integration and action, there are strong links with research at the world-renowned Donders Centre for Cognition.
At Radboud University we also look beyond the technical side of creating robots that can move, talk and interpret emotions as humans do. We believe that a robot needs to do more than simply function to its best ability. A robot that humans distrust will fail even if it is well programmed. Culture also plays a role in this; people in Japan are more open to the possibilities of robots than in, for example, the Netherlands. We will teach you how to evaluate humans’ attitudes towards a robot in order to use that information to create robots that will be accepted and trusted and therefore perform even better.
See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/ai/robot
Why study Robot Cognition at Radboud University?
- We offer a great mix of technical and social aspects of robot cognition.
- This programme focuses on programming robot behaviours and evaluating them rather than building the robots themselves. We teach you to programme robots that will be used in close contact with human beings, for example in healthcare and education, rather than in industry.
- Our cognitive focus leads to a highly interdisciplinary AI programme where students gain skills and knowledge from a number of different areas such as mathematics, computer science, psychology and neuroscience combined with a core foundation of artificial intelligence.
- This specialisation offers plenty of room to create a programme that meets your own academic and professional interests.
- Together with the world-renowned Donders Institute, the Max Planck Institute and various other leading research centres in Nijmegen, we train our students to become excellent researchers in AI.
- To help you decide on a research topic there is a semi-annual Thesis Fair where academics and companies present possible project ideas. Often there are more project proposals than students to accept them, giving you ample choice. We are also open to any of you own ideas for research.
- Our AI students are a close-knit group; they have their own room in which they often get together to interact, debate and develop their ideas. Every student also receives personal guidance and supervision from a member of our expert staff.
Our research in this field
The programme is closely related to the research carried out in the internationally renowned Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. This institute has several unique facilities for brain imaging using EEG, fMRI and MEG. You could also cooperate with the Behavioural Science Institute and work in its Virtual Reality Laboratory, which can be used to study social interaction between humans and avatars.
An example of a possible thesis subject:
- Engaging human-robot interactions in healthcare for children and/or the elderly
Social robots are often deployed with 'special' user groups such as children and elderly people. Developing and evaluating robot behaviours for these user groups is a challenge as a proper understanding of their cognitive and social abilities is needed. Depending on the task, children for example need to be engaged and encouraged in a different way than adults do. What are effective robot behaviours and strategies to engage children and/or elderly people? How can these robot behaviours be evaluated in a proper way?
Our Artificial Intelligence graduates have excellent job prospects and are often offered a job before they have actually graduated. Many of our graduates go on to do a PhD either at a major research institute or university with an AI department. Other graduates work for companies interested in cognitive design and research. Examples of companies looking for AI experts with this specialisation: Philips, Siemens, Honda, Mercedes, Google. Some students have even gone on to start their own companies.
Examples of jobs that a graduate of the specialisation in Robot Cognition could get:
- PhD Researcher on Cognitive-Affective Modelling for Social Robots
- PhD Researcher on Automatic analysis of human group behaviour in the presence of robots
- PhD Researcher on Automatic analysis of affective quality of conversations in human-robot interaction
- Advisor and innovation manager in the healthcare industry
- Social robotics and affective computing for robots expressing emotions
- Developer of control algorithms for using optic flow in drones
- Advisor for start-up company on developing new uses for tactile displays
- Team member in design of emotion recognition and training for autistic children
Half of your second year consists of an internship, giving you plenty of hands-on experience. We encourage students to do this internship abroad, although this is not mandatory. We do have connections with companies abroad, for example in China, Finland and the United States.
See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/ai/robot