Postdoctoral Research Associates in Robotics, Control, and Machine Learning University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Centre for Robotics (ECR) United Kingdom


Research Associate

Vacancy Ref: : 043260

Closing Date : 27-Apr-2018

Contact Person : Samantha Black

Contact Number : 0131 650 9006

Contact Email :

The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics (ECR), University of Edinburgh, invites international applications for four full-time senior Postdoctoral Research Associates in Robotics, Control, and Machine Learning to join our new EPSRC funded Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (RAI) hubs: ORCA, NCNR and FAIR-SPACE. The successful candidate will be expected to work closely with other members of the ECR, our university partners in the hub: Heriot-Watt, Imperial, Oxford, Warwick, Surrey, Liverpool, Salford, Birmingham, Bristol, Lincoln, Queen Mary, and Lancaster; and play a leading role in developing novel algorithms and proof of concept robotics and AI solutions in the domains of offshore energy, nuclear and space exploration.


These fixed term posts are full time and are available from 1 May 2018 until 31 March 2021. Appointments to the post will be made for a minimum of 12 months, with the potential to extend until 31 March 2021 depending on the individual project funding. Longer term initial appointments may be considered at offer stage.


Informal enquiries can be addressed to the principal investigator of each project listed below. Please indicate in the supporting statement section if you would like to be considered for particular project(s) only, otherwise candidates will be considered for all projects listed.


Salary: £32,548 - £38,833 per annum


Closing Date: Friday 27th April 2018 at 5pm (GMT)


Project Description


The research program of the hubs aims to lead advancement in robotics and AI solutions that create innovations in the inspection, maintenance, repair and decommissioning for the offshore, nuclear, and space industries. Deployment platforms including wheeled/legged and metamorphic robots for sensor deployment, all-terrain mobility and dexterous manipulation in extreme and dynamic conditions, e.g. failure prediction, re-planning and recovery strategies as well full body humanoid platforms for close human robot collaboration.
Successful candidates will be responsible for carrying out research for one of the research projects described below; develop software to implement novel sensing, planning and control algorithms in simulation and on real hardware as well as take an active role in the software maintenance within the group. The research associate positions for the key scientific projects are as follows.


Project A: Dynamics Modeling (1 position)


Modeling, estimation and system identification of the dynamics of legged, aerial, and undersea platforms for model-based control, prediction, simulation, and certification.
Application of traditional rigid-body inertial parameter estimation as well as data-driven machine learning approaches for the above.

Project B: Multi-arm Manipulation (1 position)


Model-based control for dexterous dual/multi- arm manipulation for highly dynamic contact interaction such as grasping, assembly, disassembly, cutting, tearing, decommissioning, etc.
Applications of planning, force optimization, dynamics modeling, impedance control, teleoperation for such tasks.

Project C: Dynamic quadrupedal locomotion (1 position)


Model-based control and planning high-mobility force controllable quadrupeds in extreme terrains.
Applications of trajectory and contact force optimization, dynamics modeling, impedance control, dynamic planning and recovery for mobility in rough/uneven terrains, compliant/slippery surfaces (dirt, sand, mud, water, etc.), climbing stairs, obstacles, etc.

Project D: Intelligent HRI with Explainable AI (1 position)


Techniques to enable understanding causal structure of specific decisions, towards diagnosis and model/policy repair
a. Causal interpretation of opaque (machine learnt) models, reasoning about “why”, “but for”, etc.
b. Tools for (statistical) model criticism and repair
Application of these techniques in robotic system testbeds, demonstrating this capability within an integrated system with live data.

1. Job Details

Job title: Research Associate (Grade 7)
School/Support Department: School of Informatics
Line manager: Principal Investigator for the research programme


2. Job Purpose

Research staff are normally employed to work on a particular project, based on restricted funding arising from a specific source, such as a UK Research Council grant or similar. (Occasionally a post holder will work on more than one project). This job description sets out the very general nature of such a post. Specific responsibilities will be determined by the project itself, and the member of staff responsible for that project. This generic job description is accompanied by the further particulars for the post which specifies the project areas of work.


3. Principal Duties

Candidates are expected to have a strong background, expertise and/or working experience in robotics, control, optimisation, motion planning, and/or machine learning. The candidate must demonstrate a strong track record of publications in the top robotics conferences and journals in the areas of robotics, AI and machine learning (e.g., Humanoids, R:SS, ICRA, IROS, RA-L, TRO, IJRR, AAAI, NIPS, ICML, ICLR).
The candidate is also expected to have excellent programming and system engineering skills. Candidates with direct experience in robot locomotion and manipulation, robot vision, and/or machine learning will be preferred. The appointee will be responsible to carry out the research outlined above and also to contribute to the supervision of PhD students who are conducting research in the same scientific areas.

The posts will involve:

• Deliverable-driven as well as 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 and regularly reporting progress to the funding agency.
The research will be carried out in the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh.


4. Representative Work Activities


In general, to support the Principal Investigator of a specific project in achieving the goals of that project, under his/her direction.

• Undertaking a specific role in the research project under supervision
• Taking responsibility for some elements of the planned research
• Planning and carrying out a work programme appropriate to the research activity
• Developing own research portfolio in related areas
• Contributing to the writing of research grants
• Contributing to dissemination and publication of personal and/or research teams findings as appropriate.
• Contribute to learning and teaching through activities such as project supervision, tutoring and marking (limited to no more than 5% on an annualised basis).


5. Planning and organising

The post holder will have to agree a general plan of research with the Principal Investigator and progress will be monitored at pre-scheduled meetings.


6. Problem Solving

The problems to be faced are purely scientific and the post holder will supply the detailed expertise for delivering a solution. They will be expected to achieve this under instruction by and with advice from the Principal Investigator and other academic and senior research staff.


7. Decision making

The post holder will determine the specific techniques and approaches to be used in the course of the research, in agreement with the principal investigator.


8. Key contacts/relationships

The postholder will principally interact with the Principal Investigator and other project staff and students. More generally, the postholder will discuss the work, and other questions of scientific interest, with other members of the School. The postholder will be expected to represent the University externally, by presenting their work at specialist meeting or workshops in the relevant research area. They may also be required to provide advice and support to relevant students.


9. Knowledge, skills and experience

Essential knowledge, skills and experience are:
• PhD degree (or near completion) in robotics, control, computer science, AI or closely related field.
• Research expertise in control, motion planning and optimisation.
• Track record of excellent research: publications in the top conferences and journals in the robotics, control, and machine learning fields.
• Excellent programming skills in C++, Java, Python and Matlab.
• Working proficiency, skills and expertise in Linux, dynamic simulators.
• Ability to work effectively as part of a team, to meet deadlines and to report on project progress.

The following desirable criteria will be evaluated by the level of proficiency. Recruitment will aim at selecting those candidates with the best possible performance in these criteria. Desirable knowledge, skills and experience for the projects are:


Project A

• Strong software skills in Linux, C++
• Experience including publications in system identification, dynamics modelling, machine learning, and/or robot learning.
• Experience with physical simulation (e.g. Gazebo) is highly desired
• Experience with model based control for robots is highly desired.


Project B,C

• Proficiency in Linux, physics simulators (Gazebo), ROS, experience in maintaining codebase.
• Experience in signal processing and state estimation.
• Hands-on experience in conducting experiments and debugging on real robots is imperative; experience and relevant publications with torque controlled, compliant robots, and series elastic actuators are desirable.


Project D

• Experience with techniques for bridging the gap between lower level motion planning and symbolic representations (e.g., natural language descriptions of plans)
• Sound knowledge of Bayesian network and Neural network learning methods
• Proficiency with corresponding software tools, including NN libraries, ROS middleware and dynamic simulators such as Gazebo/ArduPilot


Key contacts

Further enquiries may be addressed to the principal investigator of each project:
Project A,B,C: Dr Michael Mistry (
Project D: Dr. Subramanian Ramamoorthy (


Application Procedure


All applicants should apply online by clicking the apply link at the bottom of this page. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application.


You will be required to upload: 1. A covering letter/supporting statement, including a brief statement of research interests (describing how past experience and future plans fit with the advertised position); 2. CV; 3. Contact info of at least two referees as part of your online application.


Please indicate in the supporting statement section if you would like to be considered for particular project(s) only, otherwise candidates will be considered for all projects listed.


The closing date is 5pm (GMT) on Friday 27th April 2018.


Eligibility to Work


In accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and Immigration Act 2016 the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).
To do so, the University of Edinburgh requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.


For further information on eligibility to work please visit our eligibility to work webpage


If you are from outside the EEA and not currently eligible to work in the UK, there are visa routes that may be available to you, for example:


Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent): If you are an academic in the field of sciences; humanities; engineering; medicine; digital technology; or the arts, it may be possible for you to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. This route requires you to apply to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your particular field by a designated competent body (Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, Tech City UK). However, if you are applying for a senior academic role, e.g. Professor/Reader there is an accelerated route to endorsement. Further information can be found on the UKVI website

Tier 2: The University is a UKVI licensed sponsor and is able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to successful candidates who are offered highly skilled roles and meet the eligibility criteria. The CoS enables candidates to apply for a Tier 2 (general visa).

Further information about whether you require a visa and other visa routes can be found at:


Conditions of Employment

Pension Scheme

This role is grade UE07 and therefore the post holder is automatically included in membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), subject to the USS membership criteria, unless they indicate that they choose not to join the Scheme.


For further information please visit our Pensions website.




The role is grade UE07 and attracts an annual salary of £32,548 to £38,833 per annum for 35 hours each week. Salary is paid monthly by direct transfer to your Bank or Building Society account, normally on the 28th of the month. Salaries for part-time staff are calculated on the full-time scales, pro-rata to the Standard Working Week.


The University reserves the right to vary the candidate information or make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual.


The School of Informatics

Informatics is the study of how natural and artificial systems store, process and communicate information. Research in Informatics promises to take information technology to a new level, and to place information at the heart of 21st century science, technology and society.


The University has adopted our vision of the future of Informatics, as a discipline central to a new enlightenment in scholarship and learning, and critical to the future development of science, technology and society.


The School provides a fertile environment for a wide range of studies focused on understanding computation in both artificial and natural systems. The research draws on concepts from computer science, artificial intelligence, linguistics, cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology and biology.


More details about these research activities can be found at


The various institutes in The School of Informatics are housed together under one roof in the modern purpose – built Forum Building on Crichton Street in central Edinburgh.


Informatics is one of seven schools in the College of Science and Engineering, at the University of Edinburgh. It is recognised for the employability of its graduates (demand exceeds supply), its contributions to entrepreneurship, and the excellence of its research. Since the first Research Assessment Exercise in 1986, Informatics at Edinburgh has consistently been assessed to have more internationally excellent and world-class research than any other submission in Computer Science and Informatics. The latest REF 2014 results have again confirmed that ours is the largest concentration of internationally excellent research in the UK.


Working within the School


We aim to ensure that our culture and systems support flexible and family-friendly working and recognise and value diversity across all our staff and students. The School has an active programme offering support and professional development for all staff; providing mentoring, training, and networking opportunities.


The School of Informatics holds a Silver Athena SWAN award, in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education and research.

College of Science and Engineering (
The College of Science and Engineering (CSE) is one of the largest and highest-ranked science and engineering groupings in the UK. Headed by Professor Dave Robertson, CSE comprises seven Schools (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, GeoSciences, Informatics, Mathematics, and Physics and Astronomy). Informatics is located in the University’s Central Area near George Square, with the other six 2 miles further south at the King’s Buildings. The College has over 3,000 academic and support staff, and educates some 6,000 undergraduates, over 1000 taught postgraduates and more than 2,000 research students. It is in the front rank of UK university science and engineering groupings for research quality and income, and is a key player in many European and international research collaborations.


Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014


In the 2014 REF over 95% of our staff were submitted. Of our seven submissions, four of which were as a joint research school in combination with a strategic research university partner through pooling, 3 were ranked top in the UK and all 7 were in the top 5 in their discipline in the Times Higher Power rankings.

The University of Edinburgh

For more than four centuries, our people and their achievements have rewritten history time and again. They’ve explored space, revolutionised surgery, published era-defining books, paved the way for life-saving medical breakthroughs and introduced to the world many inventions, discoveries and ideas from penicillin to Dolly the sheep. We have believed that anything is possible, we still do.

The latest Research Excellence Framework highlighted our place at the forefront of international research. This adds to our international reputation for the quality of our teaching and our student experience excellence. The University is proud of its success with online teaching initiatives, with 2550 students currently studying its online distance learning postgraduate programmes, and a total to date of more than 2 million enrolments for Edinburgh MOOCs.


As a member of staff, you will be part of one of the world's leading universities, with 20 Schools spread over 3 Colleges that offer more than 1600 undergraduate and 600 postgraduate programmes to over 35,000 students each year. Professional services are critical to this success as well as our world-class teaching, research and student facilities. In fact, we are one of the top employers in Edinburgh, with over 13,000 people spread across a wide range of academic and supporting roles.


As a world-changing, world-leading university, we offer an exciting, positive, creative, challenging and rewarding place to work. We give you support, nurture your talent, develop and reward success and integrate academic, professional and personal career goals, as well as give your career the benefit of a great and distinguished reputation. In addition, our employees benefit from a competitive reward package and a wide range of staff benefits, which include generous holiday entitlement, a defined benefits pension scheme, staff discounts and much more. Access our staff benefits page for further information and use our reward calculator to find out the total value of pay and benefits provided.


The University of Edinburgh holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. We are members of the Race Equality Charter and we are also Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champions, actively promoting LGBT equality. The University has a range of initiatives to support a family friendly working environment, including flexible working and childcare vouchers. See our University Initiatives website for further information.


University Family Friendly Initiatives

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336.


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