PhD Student Position in Robot Learning

Updated: 3 months ago

The Aalto Robot Learning research group operates in the intersection of artificial intelligence and robotics. In particular, we focus on reinforcement learning, robotic manipulation, decision making under partial observability, imitation learning, and decision making in multi-agent systems. The goal of the research group is to help robots understand what they need to learn in order to perform their assigned tasks, and, thus, make robots capable of operating on their own and pro-actively help humans. To accomplish these goals the research group develops novel decision-making methods and uses these methods to solve unsolved robotic tasks. For more information, please see

The Robot Learning research group is seeking a talented PhD student with strong interest in Robot Learning and

  • Mobile manipulation and
  • Reinforcement learning

The main task of the doctoral candidate will be to develop new state-of-the-art reinforcement learning (RL) methods and utilize them on a real robot. The developed methods allow robots to operate in unstructured partially observable real-world environments found in household robotics, construction, work sites of mobile heavy machines, agile manufacturing, elderly care, handling dangerous materials, or even disaster scenarios such as Fukujima.

The research focus will be on developing reinforcement learning method techniques related to partial observability, memory representations, exploration, Bayesian reinforcement learning, curriculum reinforcement learning, and Monte Carlo tree search. The doctoral candidate will apply the methods on real robots such as the Boston Dynamics Spot robot with a Spot arm. The exact direction of the research is chosen depending on your experience and interests.

Please relate clearly to (some of) these research topics in your Letter of Motivation.

Outstanding students and researchers from the areas of Machine Learning, AI, and Robotics and related areas including Reinforcement Learning, Control Engineering, Computer Vision, Statistics & Optimization, or Mathematics & Physics are welcome to apply. The candidate is expected to conduct independent research and at the same time contribute to the topics listed above. Successful candidates can furthermore be given the opportunity to work with undergraduate, M.Sc. and PhD students.

The research group collaborates with research groups in computer vision, robotics, construction, mobile heavy machines, human-robot interaction, reinforcement learning, imitation learning, robot learning, multi-agent systems, under-water vehicles, and robot motion planning. Moreover, two of the PhD students in the research group are located at the Intelligent Autonomous Systems institute at TU Darmstadt, Germany so there will be ample opportunities for international collaboration.

We offer

The position will be filled for a period of 1+3 years. The starting date is in September 2021 or as mutually agreed. The salary will be based on both the job requirements and the employee’s personal performance in accordance with the salary system of Finnish universities. A typical starting salary for a doctoral candidate is approximately 2500 EUR/month. The salary increases with experience.

We offer a wide range of staff benefits, such as occupational health care, flexible working hours, excellent sports facilities on campus and several restaurants and cafés on campus with staff discounts.

How to apply

Please submit your application through our online recruitment system using this link “Apply now!”. The closing date for applications is June 24, 2021 (23:59 EEST (GMT+3)). Please write your application and all the accompanying documentation in English and attach them in PDF format.

Please attach only the following documents to your application:

  • A letter of motivation and description of your research interests (max. 1 page)
  • Curriculum vitae (including the contact details of two referees).
  • A list of publications (if any) as a part of the curriculum vitae
  • PDF copy of your MSc and BSc degree certificates, including transcripts of all university records and their English translations (Finnish and Swedish certificates are also accepted)

Additional information

For further information, please contact Assistant Professor Joni Pajarinen, Additional information in recruitment process related questions, please contact HR Coordinator Jaana Hänninen,

About Aalto University, Helsinki, and Finland

Aalto University ( is located in Finland. Finland is among the best countries in the world according to many quality of life indicators, including being the happiest country in the world (UN study 2018 and The World Happiness Report 2019) and the safest country in the world (World Economic Forum report 2017). Aalto University is the foremost university in Finland in Engineering, Design and Business. Less than a 15 minutes metro ride away from center of Helsinki, capital of Finland, Aalto offers access to rich cultural and social life to help maintain healthy work-life balance.

Aalto University is a community of bold thinkers where science and art meet technology and business. We are committed to identifying and solving grand societal challenges and building an innovative future. Aalto has six schools with nearly 11 000 students and a staff of more than 4000, of which 400 are professors. Our main campus is located in the Helsinki metropolitan area, Finland. Diversity is part of who we are, and we actively work to ensure our community’s diversity and inclusiveness in the future as well. This is why we warmly encourage qualified candidates from all backgrounds to join our community.

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