PhD Openings

PhD Openings in Physical Human Robot Interaction and Collaboration

The Human-Robot Interfaces and physical Interaction (HRI2) Laboratory (  of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT – an English speaking institute placed in Genoa, Italy) offers one PhD position in a joint PhD program with the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering (DEIB), Politecnico di Milano (

Research will be conducted in part at IIT on the topic of physical human robot interaction and cooperation (see details of the theme below). Successful candidates will have access to several robotic platforms such as WALKMAN and COMAN humanoid robots, a dual-arm KUKA IV+ platform, the Pisa/IIT Softhand, etc.

Requirements: We are seeking for highly motivated candidates with an excellent master degree in robotics, mechanical, biomedical or control engineering, or related fields. A good level of software programming (C++ and MATLAB) proficiency is required.

Application Procedure: In order to apply for these positions it is mandatory to refer to the procedures required by the Politechnico di Milano. The official notice and the procedure for admissions is available at this link:

Interested applicants should follow the admission instructions, and additionally submit their CV electronically outlining experience and qualifications, list of publications, a statement of research interests and plans and the names of at least two referees to Dr. Arash Ajoudani ( and Dr. Elena De Momi (, quoting HRC-PhD2017 in the email subject.

Please apply before March 13, 2017.

PhD Theme: Multimodal Interfaces for Human-Robot Co-Manipulation (Tutors: Dr. Arash Ajoudani and Dr. Elena De Momi)

Physical human-robot interaction and cooperation are two fundamental and necessary aspects for integrating robots into our daily lives. The robots are expected to help us in various tasks, of which many require collaborative effort to be successfully completed. In order to achieve such behaviour, the robot must be able to physically interact with the human counterpart and predict the intentions of the human, despite the additional interaction with the uncertain and unpredictable environment. Appropriate robot control methods therefore are essential for the robot to deal with various uncertainties, dynamically aspects and complex task requirements. A promising direction towards this goal is to adaptively regulate mechanical parameters of the robot, based on the task requirements and external feedback.

Another important aspect of robot control in human-robot interaction/collaboration is the presence of the human. The human behaviour is usually highly unpredictable and difficult to model. Indeed recent work at HRI2 [1,2] laboratory aims at developing appropriate human-robot interfaces to enable the robot to predict or extract the human intention from various feedback modalities (human motor behaviour, vision, interaction force, voice commands, etc.). In addition, other key aspects such as role-allocation in human-robot cooperation and partner’s skill evaluation, which can enable the robot to adapt its behaviour to accommodate for different level of competence and capability of the human will be explored.


[1] L. Peternel, N. Tsagarakis, D. Caldwell and A. Ajoudani, “Adaptation of Robot Physical Behaviour to Human Fatigue in Human-Robot Co-Manipulation”, IEEE International Conference on Humanoid Robotics (Humanoids), 2016.

[2] L. Peternel, N. Tsagarakis, and A. Ajoudani, “Towards Multi-Modal Intention Interfaces for Human-Robot Co-Manipulation”, IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2016.

For more information, please contact Dr. Arash Ajoudani ( and Dr. Elena De Momi (