PhD in



1 MARIE CURIE FELLOWSHIP FOR EARLY-STAGE RESEARCHERS (ESRs) in the framework of the European PERSEO project.

Personal robots are used in domestic and public environments to perform interaction tasks in support and collaboration with people. They are already available on the market at reasonable costs, making their large-scale adoption feasible in principle. However, the foreseen market success of such a technology is still far to be realized. There are several research challenges for personal robotics, which are mainly related to the need of a high degree of personalization of the robot behavior with respect to the specific user’s needs and preferences. The user’s experience of personalized and adaptive interaction with the robot is key to its large-scale adoption. Companies need to build solutions rooted in a deeper analysis of humans’ specificities before developing products for people. Policymakers need to base their regulations on the view of possible long-term interaction, and not only on possible contingent needs. At the same time, academia needs to nurture the development of an extended research community with a set of interdisciplinary skills to investigate different robot’s capabilities for understanding and modeling the interaction with human beings, for decision mechanisms to appropriately adapt the robot’s behavior to the context, and software integration mechanisms that allow an easy, personalized configuration approach to limit the hard and costly processes for customizing novel robotic system.

The European Training Network on PErsonalized Robotics as SErvice Oriented applications – PERSEO – aims at training and creating a new generation of interdisciplinary researchers and professionals with an entrepreneurship ethos and transferrable skillset to face both societal and technological research challenges of this forthcoming market of personal robots. These consist respectively in the development of personalized and acceptable robot’s perceptual and interaction capabilities to be distributed as Cloud Services personal robot applications as companions, in rehabilitation, and for edutainment. The PERSEO research and training program is organized into three Research Themes aimed at investigating personalization of robot capabilities at different levels of possible Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), namely “Physical, “Cognitive”, and “Social”. This requires a set of research skills ranging from computer science and AI to automation, ethics, and psychology, and the use of a collaborative design approach. Integration Milestones, will provide co-working societal problems where collaborative design/implementation is fostered and supported by partner organizations.

The position open at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna refer to the following topics:

ESR14 – Deception

Supervisor: Dr. Andrea Bertolini


OBJECTIVES: The project aim is threefold: to identify the design criteria necessary for developing pleasant robots; to discuss the problem of deception and the possibility that (especially vulnerable) users may be lead to attribute features and qualities to the machine that, instead, machines do not possess (e.g. ability to feel emotions and build emotional bond with humans etc.); to discuss ethical and legal aspects of such interaction. For this matter, ESR14 will take into consideration the technological, philosophical and psychological research carried out at other partner institutions (also participating in said research, thanks to the exchange periods of the duration of up to 6 months duration, over the three year program), the European ethical and legal principles (dignity, equality, self-determination), including the initiatives on the development of ethical guidelines for trustworthy AI (and advanced robotics) currently undertaken at the European level. In particular, the project will consider the challenges of standardization in ethics, considering alternative ethical approaches, such as the utilitarian and deontological (neo-kantian).

EXPECTED RESULTS: Analysis of the legal, social and ethical problems connected to the human machine interaction, identification of criteria for the development of the ethically aligned design; elaboration of policy guidelines on the topic; assessment of how fundamental principles and rights may be interpreted and applied to determine licit, and socially desirable uses of said applications.



Among the requirements, each applicant:

  • Must not have obtained a PhD degree yet

  • Did not reside in Italy for more than 12 months in the previous 3 years

  • Is in the first 4 years of his/her research career.

The research project must be developed around the 1 ESR research titles and objectives provided above.

For information on the scientific content of the research, please contact:

Dr. Andrea Bertolini