Vacancy: PhD researcher Time-awareness and perception in artificial agents


Research Context

We expect an evolution towards a hybrid man-machine society in which we interact more and more with technological counterparts, such as robots. Human-robot interaction will be particularly important in industry settings, where humans and robots (physical or virtual) must fluently cooperate.

In these settings, the artificial agents must be aware of how humans perceive time, must learn the temporal dynamics of the environment (e.g. time between periodic events) and must be aware of how their actions may influence the actions of others (e.g. a human may feel overwhelmed by the decision speed of a robot).

Human time perception is a remarkably subjective experience: time feels compressed when we need to make decisions under stress, whereas on other occasions we experience sensation of immersion and flow. Incorporating such time-awareness in artificial agents may thus improve the accuracy and decision speed in human-robot collaborative scenarios.

Our offer

We offer a fully funded PhD scholarship. The PhD research is fundamental and innovative, but with clear practical applications. You will join IDLab’s Distributed Machine Learning group: a young and enthusiastic team of researchers, post-docs and professors. The PhD position is immediately available.

Besides conducting fundamental research, you will contribute to educational activities in the Master of Science in Information Engineering Technology. You will, together with colleagues, prepare assignments and guide students during PC lab sessions.


  • You have a degree in Master of Science/Engineering, preferably in Computer Science, or (Mathematical) Informatics. You must have a solid academic track record (at least graduation cum laude). Please do not hesitate to contact us regarding these administrative matters.
  • You have a strong interest in one or more of the following domains: artificial intelligence, human-robot interaction, robot cognitive architectures. Proven experience in one of these domains, e.g. via your master thesis or course projects, is a plus.
  • You have profound programming skills in Python or Java, additional knowledge of ROS is a plus.
  • You are interested in and motivated by the research topic and the use case, as well as in obtaining a PhD degree.
  • You are willing to help assisting courses of the Master of Information Engineering Technology
  • Knowledge of Dutch is a plus. You speak and write English fluently.
  • You have good communication skills and you are a team player.
  • You have an open mind and a multi-disciplinary attitude.


Apply with motivation letter, scientific resume, abstract of your master thesis, diplomas and detailed academic results (courses and grades), relevant publications, and at least one reference contact. This information, as well as possible questions, must be sent to Prof. Pieter Simoens (

After the first screening, suitable candidates will be invited for an interview (also possible via Skype) and may get a small assignment. Applications will be screened as soon as they are received. The position is open until the vacancy is filled.

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