PhD Studentship: Shared Control in Physical Human-Robot Interaction

University of Sussex - Engineering and Design

Closing date: Open until position filled

New robots are no longer confined to closed environments but co-exist with humans and have to collaborate with them in unknown dynamic environments. Despite the advent of robotics in the past decades, developing fully autonomous robots that fulfil operational requirements under real-world working conditions is still very challenging. The intervention of humans in a robotic task is necessary especially when the environment is unstructured and uncertain. Many researchers have seen the need for collaboration of humans and robots in different applications, e.g., rehabilitation, assistive devices and tele-operation. The thrusts of shared control of humans and robots rely on the observation that they have complementary advantages: robots have superior efficiency in carrying out regular tasks at a high speed with guaranteed performance, while humans with their cognitive skills excel in understanding circumstances, perception, reasoning, and problem solving.

However, it is still not clear how to best use shared control of a human and a robot. In fact, current robots working in contact with humans are either completely guided by the human operator such as in tele-operation, or completely guide them as in current rehabilitation robots, thus not using the opportunities of shared control. In contrast, recent studies have revealed the benefits of shared control between humans carrying out a common task, promoted by communication via physical interaction. Therefore, this project aims to capitalise on the benefits observed during human-human interactions and combine the unique strengths of robots and humans in order to achieve natural, intuitive and efficient human-robot interaction. The proposed approaches will be tested in a specified robot platform, emulating real-world applications, such as collaborative object movement and robotic rehabilitation.

  • You will have, or will be about to obtain a 1st or 2:1 UK Bachelor's, or an MSc degree, or equivalent, in a relevant subject. Applicants with significant relevant non-academic experience are also encouraged to apply.

The Scholarship includes a three year stipend at a standard rate (currently £14,553 per annum) and, in addition, fees at the UK/EU rate. Since the scholarship only covers fees at the UK/EU rate any overseas applicants are kindly requested to state in their application how they propose to cover the difference between UK/EU and overseas fees (for more details visit:

  • Apply for a Engineering PhD using this step by step guide:
  • In the Finance information section of the application form clearly state the title of this scholarship

Contact for informal enquiries and further details of the project: Dr Yanan Li,

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