PhD Student position in robot learning for interactive dressing assistance

The Robot Learning & Interaction Group at the Idiap Research Institute ( in Switzerland is recruiting a PhD student in the field of robot learning and control. The work will take place within a CHIST-ERA project on interactive dressing assistance (I-DRESS) starting in December 2015, in collaboration with CSIC-UPC and UWE-BRL, where Idiap will contribute to the robot learning aspects.

The project aims at providing proactive dressing assistance to disabled users (putting on and taking off shoes and coat). The system consists of two dexterous robotic arms endowed with sensors for multimodal human-robot interaction. It will exploit vision, speech and haptics to understand the meaning of user actions during the dressing task. The objective is to develop learning from demonstration algorithms to teach the robot new dressing tasks, and adapt existing tasks to new user profiles or to changing user preferences or environmental conditions. The concept of movement primitives will be extended to a richer set of time-dependent and time-independent behaviors such as sensorimotor and impedance primitives, which will be combined in series and in parallel to form more complex behaviors.

The ideal PhD candidate should hold an MS in computer science, engineering, physics or applied mathematics. S/he should have a background in statistics, linear algebra, signal processing and programming (C++ or Matlab). The successful PhD candidate will become a doctoral student at EPFL ( provided that s/he is accepted by the Doctoral School at EPFL ( Appointment for the PhD position is for a maximum of 4 years. Annual gross salary ranges from 47,000 CHF (first year) to 50,000 CHF (last year). Starting date is immediate or to be negotiated early 2016.

For more information, please contact Dr Sylvain Calinon (, Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, a detailed CV, and the names of three references (or recommendation letters) through the Idiap online recruitment system: Application deadline: Oct. 15, 2015.

About Idiap:

Idiap is an independent, non-profit research institute recognized and supported by the Swiss Government, and affiliated with the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne ( It is located in the town of Martigny in Valais, a scenic region in the south of Switzerland, surrounded by the highest mountains of Europe, and offering exciting recreational activities, including hiking, climbing and skiing, as well as varied cultural activities. It is within close proximity to Geneva and Lausanne. Although Idiap is located in the French part of Switzerland, English is the working language. Free French lessons are provided.

Idiap offers competitive salaries and conditions at all levels in a young, dynamic, and multicultural environment. Idiap is an equal opportunity employer and is actively involved in the “Advancement of Women in Science” European initiative. The Institute seeks to maintain a principle of open competition (on the basis of merit) to appoint the best candidate, provides equal opportunity for all candidates, and equally encourage both genders to apply.

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