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Research Associate

The University of Edinburgh - School of Informatics

Location: Edinburgh
Salary: £35,333 to £42,155 per annum (Grade UE07)
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 24th November 2022
Closes: 21st December 2022
Job Ref: 5897
 

College of Science and Engineering

Fixed-term: 48 months

Full Time: 35 Hours per week

The Opportunity:

The primary role of the candidate will be to undertake computational and hardware modelling studies of dynamic depth perception in insects, contributing to the project Insect-Inspired Depth Perception under the direction of Professor Barbara Webb, in collaboration with Professor Mikko Juusola at the University of Sheffield.

Project Summary

The core aim of this project is to translate insect visual depth perception to robot systems. The key hypothesis is that newly discovered forms of retinal and receptor motion enable high resolution and stereo vision that has previously been assumed impossible for the insect compound eye, which has a relatively low number of optical elements per visual angle. The key outcome would be the design of a compact, low power visual sensor, and associated processing algorithms, which is particularly suited to distinguish the 3D shape of small nearby objects.

The first objective is to understand in principle what information an insect can recover from a low-resolution sensor array that has individual light-activated motion of receptors and specific coordinated global motion. This will be addressed using multilevel computational modelling, including machine learning methods coupled to biological constraints to gain insight into possible circuit structure. This work will be carried out principally by the RA but in close collaboration with the team at Sheffield who will focus on the second objective, to understand the efficient computation of this information in the insect brain, using neuro-imaging of the fly brain coupled to a track-ball and 3D object simulation system. The third objective, which will be the main task of the RA in the latter half of the project will be  to test these principles and understanding through construction and testing of hardware devices, including exploration of novel camera technologies and interaction with industrial partners.

Principal Duties

Candidates are expected to have a strong background in computer science, ideally in the fields of machine vision, computational neuroscience and/or machine learning. They should also have some experience in hardware design and implementation including system engineering skills. A track record of good journal publications in relevant areas should be demonstrated.

The appointee will be responsible to carry out the research outlined above and also to contribute to the supervision of PhD, masters and undergraduate students who are conducting research in the same scientific areas.

The post will involve:

  • Fundamental research in a collaborative team environment,
  • Leading the writing and submission process associated with papers at the leading international conferences and journals,  
  • Attending international conferences to present results,
  • Oversight and expert advice for other, more junior staff and research students (including as co-supervisor) as required.

The research will be carried out in the Insect Robotics Group, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh.

Knowledge, skills and experience

Essential knowledge, skills and experience are:

  • PhD degree in computational neuroscience, computer vision, bio-inspired robotics or a closely related field.
  • Research expertise in computational modelling.
  • Track record of excellent research: publications in high-quality journals.
  • Good programming skills in Python
  • Ability to work effectively as part of a team, to meet deadlines and to report on project progress.
  • Excellence in written and oral communication, analytical, and time management skills
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