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ROBOTics for Development Of Cognition

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The human side of robots

A multinational doctoral training network in developmental robotics has helped several postdoc graduates and PhD students to make impressive progress in the field.

Industrial Technologies

Humanoid robots could potentially be used to assist humans in a variety of ways over the coming decades, from assisting elderly in their home or walking the dog to saving lives in threatening situations. While cognitive robotics using humanoid platforms is still in its early stages, a new academic institution is hoping to take the discipline to a new level. The EU-funded ROBOT-DOC (Robotics for development of cognition) project oversaw the establishment of the RobotDoc Collegium, considered the leading European doctoral training institute in the field. Focusing on developmental robotics for designing robots by looking at children, the project laid the groundwork for advanced postgraduate training and research on the topic. The initiative also considered the highly interdisciplinary nature of developmental robotics, bringing together fields such as cognitive robotics, computer science, cognitive science, developmental psychology and neuroscience. This involved the establishment of training nodes within the Collegium that provide training in specific research areas. In summary, 13 fellows and 5 researchers were hired during the project to participate in the training programme and its various training milestones over 4 years. The fellows and researchers participated in highly specific workshops and summer school sessions to achieve their aims, including their direct involvement in the organisation of two conferences. During this time, an interdisciplinary team of supervisors supported the fellows, who also benefited from individual coaching sessions. Moreover, the project established the RobotDoc Associate Fellows group with over 30 external researchers and fellows from the EU and abroad, significantly contributing to advancing the project's goals. The fellows have published their research results in numerous journals, in addition to participating in many international conferences, producing interesting and exciting insight into humanlike robotics. Several fellows also won awards for their publications and presented their results in national and international newspapers, radio and online (e.g. New Scientist). As a multinational doctoral training network, the RobotDoc Collegium has proven its worth as a successful initiative for furthering developmental cognitive robotics and setting solid bases for the training of a growing community of researchers and engineers in the field. This includes the funding of two new Marie Sklodowska-Curie doctoral networks, namely the SECURE ETN, which looks at the safe interaction between humanoid robots and people, and the APRIL European Industrial Doctorate network for intense cross-sectorial training in partnership with Aldebaran Robotics (manufacturer of the NAO and Pepper robots).

Keywords

Developmental robotics, humanoid robots, cognitive robotics, cognitive science, developmental psychology

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