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Department of Computer Science

Cognitive Robotics and Human Robot Interaction

Primary supervisor

Additional information

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Other projects with the same supervisor


  • Self-Funded Students Only

If you have the correct qualifications and access to your own funding, either from your home country or your own finances, your application to work with this supervisor will be considered.

Project description

Research on cognitive robotics focuses on the design of intelligent behaviour and sensorimotor and cognitive skills in robots, by taking inspiration from human cognition (psychology) and brain mechanisms (neuroscience). The specific approach of Developmental Robotics aims at modelling the incremental stages of the acquisition of behavioural and cognitive skills, copying the developmental stages in child psychology (cf. Cangelosi and Schlesinger's 2015 book on "Developmental Robotics: From Babies to Robots").
Cognitive robots can also be used for studies on human-robot interaction (HRI). For example, when modelling the incremental, developmental stages of theory of mind skills in robots, one can study how this facilitates trust and interaction between robots and people. This can be applied to social robot companions for elderly, robot tutors for children, joint action and collaboration between people and robots (cobots).

The new Cognitive Robotics Lab at the University of Manchester, led by Professor Angelo Cangelosi, hosts a "Robot Home", with a living lab for human-robot interaction experiments. The lab has access to various humanoid robot platforms (iCub, Pepper, Sawyer and Nao) and other interactive robots (e.g. Giraff). The Lab is involved in numerous projects funded by the EU H2020 programme, by the US Air Force Lab, and by companies such as Honda. Current projects include MoveCare on robot companions for the elderly, THRIVE++ on trust and theory of mind, DeCIFER on the robot's understanding of human's actions and goals, and the three Marie Skl?odowska Curie grants PERSEO and ELADDA on machine learning for language and action. The student will collaborate with other students and postdocs from these projects. The student can also participate in collaborative projects with the Alan Turing Institute.

Perspective PhD students with an interest in cognitive robotics and human-robot interaction can contact the supervisor Angelo Cangelosi ( for informal discussion. Below is a list of indicative research topics:
- language development in humanoid robots
- embodied cognition and robotics
- developmental robotics
- neural network models of language learning
- trust in human-robot interaction
- modelling abstract words and numerical cognition in robots
- robot companions for elderly and health and social care
- robot tutors
- cobot for joint action between people and robots

Person specification

For information


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You must be capable of performing at a very high level.
  • You must have a self-driven interest in uncovering and solving unknown problems and be able to work hard and creatively without constant supervision.


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You will have good time management.
  • You will possess determination (which is often more important than qualifications) although you'll need a good amount of both.


Applicants will be required to address the following.

  • Comment on your transcript/predicted degree marks, outlining both strong and weak points.
  • Discuss your final year Undergraduate project work - and if appropriate your MSc project work.
  • How well does your previous study prepare you for undertaking Postgraduate Research?
  • Why do you believe you are suitable for doing Postgraduate Research?