State-of-the-art robotic technologies rely on preprogrammed models and largely lack the capacity to adapt to unexpected changes to their bodies or the environment. In order to expand the domain where they can be applied, they need to respond more autonomously, flexibly and robustly. The applicant will use the iCub humanoid robot, recently equipped with whole-body tactile sensing, to address these challenges by developing new methods to (i) autonomously acquire and adapt models of the complete robot’s body; (ii) move in unknown cluttered environments using whole-body awareness, thus preserving the robot and other people’s safety.
The flexibility of humans can be, at least partly, attributed to the way the brain represents and updates the properties and current state of the body. However, the mechanisms of the so-called body schema are still not understood. Therefore, modeling and implementing body representations can serve to crystallize known biological facts and simultaneously design robot controllers which can perform with the reliability and adaptability of humans. The iCub robot with a human-like morphology and a corresponding set of sensory and motor modalities is a perfect tool for this task.
The host institution - the Italian Institute of Technology - provides a unique environment that combines humanoid robot technology and cognitive science expertise under one roof, plus an outstanding training environment. The applicant will be able to capitalize on his background in cognitive robotics and crucially expand his research and complementary skills. He will directly participate in the transfer of iCub-related technologies to industry and in numerous outreach activities. Upon completion of the project, the applicant will acquire a unique but rare set of multidisciplinary skills essential for an independent career in humanoid or cognitive robotics, and a network of collaborators consisting of leading researchers in the field.
Fields of science
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