Proposed Director of Studies: Dr Rob Saunders


Professional Partner: TBC


Project Details: 


The MetaMakers Institute, Games Academy and Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA) at Falmouth University, Cornwall, invite applications for a three-year full-time Doctoral studentship, fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), to undertake research exploring the potential of movement in non-anthropomorphic and non-zoomorphic social robots. Robots will increasingly become part of our everyday lives with adoption across health, education and leisure. By 2035, it has been predicted that 50% of robot sales will be for service/personal robots that directly interact with humans, yet robots’ social skills fall far behind their functional capabilities, particularly in the area of movement.


The aim of this project is to explore the role of movement in the design of social robots and their interactions with humans. Movement has the potential to define a robot’s capacity to efficiently communicate non-verbally, effectively express agency and intentionality, and dramatically affect how people feel. This potential is particularly important as part of the design of non-anthropomorphic and non-zoomorphic social robots, when familiar appearance and behavioural mimicry cannot be relied upon to convey meaning. Movement design also significantly determines how a robot relates to its environment, its sense-making capacity, and is thus tightly integrated with its models of cognitive processes.


This research project provides opportunities for interdisciplinary approaches to exploring questions related to the design of movements for non-anthropomorphic and non-zoomorphic social robots. The successful applicant may approach the topic from a background in the performing arts, social studies, design, computing or robotics. This research project would particularly suit candidates willing to work across disciplinary boundaries to draw on different practices and research fields to inform their investigation.


The successful applicant will be able to draw upon expertise in creative applications of Artificial Intelligence in the MetaMakers Institute, technical and artistic expertise and resources of the Games Academy, and expertise in performing arts from AMATA. In particular, the successful applicant will be supported by the expertise of the director of studies and supervisory team across Creative Robotics and Robotic Art.


For an informal discussion about this studentship, please email: