Older blog entries for Petar.Kormushev (starting at number 29)

Open PhD positions in Robotics at IIT for 2013


Doctoral Course on “Robotics, Cognition and Interaction Technologies”
Call for PhD students for 2013

PhD positions with scholarships are available at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa, Italy.
Doctoral course starting in January 2013
Application deadline: September 21, 2012
Online application here

Please note that IIT is an English-language research institute, so it is not required to speak Italian.

I have one PhD opening in my team, in the field of Reinforcement Learning with application to Robot Control. The details can be found in Annex A4 – Doctoral course on “Robotics, Cognition and Interaction Technologies”, and are as follows.



STREAM 1: Machine Learning, Robot Control and Human-Robot Interaction

Theme 3.1: Developmental robotics and robot learning for agile locomotion of compliant humanoid robots
Tutor: Dr. Petar Kormushev, Dr Nikos Tsagarakis
Developmental robotics offers a completely different approach for controlling humanoid robots than the currently predominant approach based on manually engineered controllers. For example, currently, the majority of bipedal walking robots use variants of ZMP-based walking with largely simplified models of the robot dynamics. As a result, despite the significant mechatronic advances in humanoid robot legs, the locomotion repertoire of current bipedal robots merely includes slow walking on flat ground or inclined slopes, and primitive forms of disturbance rejection. This is far behind from even a two-year old child.

The creation of novel, high-performance, passively-compliant humanoid robots (such as the robot COMAN developed at IIT) offers a significant potential for achieving more agile locomotion. However, the bottleneck is not the hardware anymore, but the software that controls the robot. It is no longer reasonable to use over-simplified models of robot dynamics, because the novel compliant robots possess much richer and more complex dynamics than the previous generation of stiff robots. Therefore, a new solution should be sought to address the challenge of compliant humanoid robot control.

In this PhD theme, the use of developmental robotics and robot learning methods will be explored, in order to achieve novel ways for whole-body compliant humanoid robot control. In particular, the focus will be on achieving agile locomotion, based on robot self-learned dynamics, rather than on pre-engineered dynamics model. The PhD candidates will be expected to develop new algorithms for robot learning and to advance the state-of-the-art in developmental robotics.

The expected outcome of these efforts includes the realization of highly dynamic bipedal locomotion such as omni-directional walking on uneven surfaces, jumping and running robustly on uneven terrain and in presence of high uncertainties, demonstrating robustness and tolerance to external disturbances, etc. The ultimate goal will be achieving locomotion skills comparable to a 1.5 – 2 year-old child.

Requirements: This is a multidisciplinary theme where the successful candidates should have strong competencies in machine learning and artificial intelligence, and good knowledge of robot kinematics and dynamics. The candidates should have top-class degree and a background in Computer Science, Engineering, or Mathematics. Required technical skills: C/C++ and/or MATLAB. Knowledge of computer vision is a plus.


For further details about this particular PhD position, please contact me by e-mail.

Syndicated 2012-08-16 15:13:27 from Petar Kormushev

Global Future 2045 – A New Era for Humanity

Global Future 2045 – A New Era for Humanity

In February of 2012 the first Global Future 2045 Congress was held in Moscow. There, over 50 world leading scientists from multiple disciplines met to develop a strategy for the future development of humankind. One of the main goals of the Congress was to construct a global network of scientists to further research on the development of cybernetic technology, with the ultimate goal of transferring a human’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier.

Syndicated 2012-06-11 12:30:07 from Petar Kormushev

Postdoctoral position in Machine Learning for Robot Control of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

The Department of Advanced Robotics at the Italian Institute of Technology (an English-language research institute), has a Post Doc opening in the research areas of Reinforcement learning and Imitation learning applied to robot control of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV).

The successful candidate will participate in a 3-year research project funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-ICT, STREP, Cognitive Systems and Robotics) called “PANDORA” (Persistent Autonomy through learNing, aDaptation, Observation and ReplAnning) which started in January 2012 (http://persistentautonomy.com/).

The project is a collaboration of five universities and institutes in Europe: Heriot Watt University (UK), Italian Institute of Technology (Italy), University of Girona (Spain), King’s College London (UK), and National Technical University of Athens (Greece).

The accepted candidate will contribute to the development and experimental validation of novel reinforcement learning and imitation learning algorithms for specific application to robot control of autonomous underwater vehicles.

The research work includes conducting experiment with AUVs in water tanks in collaboration with the other project partners. The developed machine learning algorithms will also be applied for other robots available at IIT, such as the compliant humanoid robot COMAN, the humanoid robot iCub, Barrett WAM manipulator arm, and KUKA LWR arm robot.

The research will be conducted within the “Learning and Interaction Group” (http://www.iit.it/en/advr-labs/learning-and-interaction.html) with team leaders: Dr. Petar Kormushev and Dr. Sylvain Calinon.

The salary will depend on the candidate’s experience. Policies provide additional pension and health benefits. Applicants may also qualify for reduced taxes benefits. Contracts will be for the duration of the project. Expected starting date is as soon as possible.

International applications are encouraged and will receive logistic support with visa issues. For further information please contact: Dr. Petar Kormushev (petar.kormushev AT iit.it).


The official job posting on the IIT website can be found here:

Syndicated 2012-05-31 13:41:15 from Petar Kormushev

The Cost of Knowledge

The Cost of Knowledge is a movement started by mathematicians and other academics who are protesting against the business model of the big publishers like Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, and etc.


Currently, the academics are set to boycott the Elsevier’s business practices, as explained in this Statement of Purpose.


You can take a stand by signing up here: http://thecostofknowledge.com/


Syndicated 2012-05-16 14:09:57 from Petar Kormushev

AIMSA 2012 Workshop

I am co-organizing a workshop at AIMSA 2012 on behalf of the IEEE RAS Technical Committee on Robot Learning:


Workshop Topic: Advances in Robot Learning and Human-Robot Interaction

Location: Varna, Bulgaria

Date: September 12, 2012

Venue: AIMSA 2012 conference on Artificial Intelligence

URL: http://kormushev.com/AIMSA-2012/


The invited speaker will be Prof. Alexander Stoytchev, from Iowa State University, USA. All accepted papers will be published in a special issue of a journal (for details see the website of the workshop). The workshop location is really nice, it is the biggest and best sea resort in Bulgaria, with magnificent sand and pleasant weather.

Syndicated 2012-03-28 16:51:32 from Petar Kormushev

Who is Peter Joseph?

A nice interview with Peter Joseph: