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Research Associate

Computer Science
Based at
University of York - Heslington Campus
Hours of work
Contract status
Fixed term
32,236 a year
Posted Date
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Job Reference

Role Description

In this role, you will develop methods for testing the safety of robots that collaborate closely with humans.

You will be part of the project "Confident safety integration for Cobots" (CSI: Cobot), a joint effort by the University of York and the University of Sheffield to expand the use of collaborative human-robot working in a wide variety of industries. Its starting point is simple — in theory, modern collaborative robots can work fluidly with human workers on many manual tasks and easily be reconfigured to work on new tasks. However, users cannot be confident that they will do so in ways compatible with the UK's stringent safety standards, and thus in many cases they cannot be deployed. Or they can only be deployed in cages or behind barriers, thus negating many of their benefits.

In this project, you will conduct research to develop simulation-based techniques for testing collaborative robots. In particular, you will develop ways of finding corner cases where odd combinations of robot and human behaviour could lead to dangerous consequences. You will achieve this by a combination of rigorous analysis (using the STPA method) and testing (using major robotics simulation tools, including Robot Operating System (ROS) integrated with Unity). You will apply to your work to major robotics hardware such as the Universal Robots UR10 and the KUKA iiwa. The control software you will be testing will include experimental approaches to sensing, tracking and decision-making, some of them using novel technologies such as machine learning.

Throughout the project you will have be supervised by experts in autonomous system safety, and have support from the many researchers at York who are working on the Assuring Autonomy International Programme and developing its Body of Knowledge ( You will, in turn, contribute the results of your research to the Body of Knowledge. You will be responsible for writing up research results and disseminating the project’s results through academic publications, seminar and conference presentations, and public engagement and outreach activities. You will thus have impact across the whole autonomous systems world.

Essential criteria

  • PhD and undergraduate degree in Computer Science, Software Engineering, Electronic Engineering, or Robotics, or a closely-related discipline, or equivalent experience
  • Experience of individual and collaborative research through to publication
  • Knowledge of software engineering or robotics sufficient to engage in high quality research, supported by knowledge of a range of research techniques and methodologies
  • Strong software development skills
  • Strong writing and interpersonal skills, including ability to write up work for journals and for public dissemination, and to present at conferences
  • Able to manage your own research, both individually and in collaboration
  • Interest in and enthusiasm for the subject matter of the project and a collaborative ethos

Interviews are likely to be on Thursday 23rd January 2020.

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