Postdoctoral stipend (2 years) in Verbal Human-Robot Interaction

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Umeå University announces a stipend for postdoctoral research in Verbal Human-Robot Interaction. The stipend is part of a focused effort on autonomous systems for the industry and society of the future, with eight postdoctoral stipends in eight separate subprojects. Welcome with your application!

Department of Computing Science ( is a dynamic department with about 100 employees from over twenty countries. We are providing research and education within a broad spectrum of areas, and offer education on basic, advanced, and PhD levels. The research is internationally well recognized and includes basic research and methodological development, and also research and development within various application areas.

The currently announced stipend is associated with the research group Intelligent Robotics. With external funding sources such as EU, The Kempe Foundations, The Kamprad Foundation, and VINNOVA, the group has led and coordinated several national and international research projects, including the European graduate schools INTRO and SOCRATES, with a total of 25 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. More information can be found at

Project description

We are now offering a postdoctoral stipend for research on detection of human intention in verbal human-robot interaction.

The degree of autonomy defines a sharp dividing line between yesterday's industrial robots and the new intelligent robots that are currently introduced in society. Robots that autonomously detect and affect their environment are increasingly used in factories, shops, offices, and home environments. These robots will, despite significant autonomy and independence, communicate intensively with the people they are set to work with. A large part of this communication will be through speech rather than traditional man-machine communication with buttons, keyboards and screens. An important and difficult part of speech based communication is the robot's understanding of the intention of a person who talks to the robot. The literal meaning of a verbal utterance, which as such is hard to determine by a machine, is in many cases insufficient since intention is often strongly linked to context, dialogue history, and other interaction modalities such as body language and gestures.

This project aims to develop methods for identification of human intention based on verbal utterances, and how the verbal dialogue and other interaction should be modified as a result of this. The project will be conducted by combining formal methods, such as automata theory and grammar theory, with machine learning and linguistics.

The project is part of a major research effort including eight postdoctoral stipends in autonomous systems. For more information, see the following link.

Each stipend is for two years, with a starting date to be negotiated. The stipend, provided by the Kempe Foundations, amounts to 300 000 SEK per year and is not subject to tax.

Applicants are required to have a PhD degree or a foreign degree that is deemed equivalent in Computer Science, Cognitive Science, Computational Linguistics, or another subject of relevance for the project. The PhD degree shall not be more than three years old by the application deadline unless there are special reasons. The applicants should be strongly motivated and interested in developing new competencies and collaborate in an international environment.

Documented knowledge and proven experience of research in either natural language processing or human-robot interaction is required. Good research merits and scientific publications in the area of the position are strongly meriting. International research experience is also a merit.

A successful candidate should be skilled in development of algorithms and software, and in scientific writing in English. Very good knowledge in the English language, both spoken and written, is required.

The application, preferably written in English, should include:

  • An introductory letter summarizing your qualifications, research interests, and motivation for applying (max 2 pages)
  • CV with list of publications
  • Copies of PhD thesis and relevant publications
  • Copies of degree certificates
  • Name and contact information for at least two reference persons

Umeå University is an equal opportunity employer. Therefore we welcome in particular female applicants.

Further information is provided by Professor Thomas Hellström (

The complete application should be marked FS 2.1.6-2281-16, and sent electronically in pdf format to (provide the reference number on the email’s subject line). Application deadline is 2017-02-15.

We look forward to your application!

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