'At the HITLab I work in a very international team that is welcoming and open...'
Studying towards a PhD in Human Interface Technology
‘Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) is a very multidisciplinary area,’ says international student Jakub Zlotowski, who is currently studying towards a PhD in Human Interface Technology at UC.
Jakub’s research is focused on the interactions between humans and robots. ‘I am investigating the perception of robots’ anthropomorphism (human-likeness) and the characteristics of robots’ behaviour and embodiment that make them be perceived and treated to some degree like human beings.’
With the increasing use of robots in society, understanding the ways in which humans interact with them is gaining more importance and attention. Jakub’s work in this area has even gained the interest of the media.
‘Robotic technology is rapidly developing and social and service robots already outnumber industrial robots. That leads to the need, not only to know how to create robots from the engineering perspective, but also to understand how humans interact with robots.’
Jakub’s future goal is to become a leading expert in HRI, doing research either in industry or academia. ‘I intend to promote the technology, and I hope to push the field and community of HRI a step further.’
Jakub expects that in the near future there will be a sharp growth in demand for this area of robotics. ‘I believe that the industry will need experts in the social aspects of HRI,’ he says.
Originally from Poland, Jakub has completed a master’s degree in Finland, a study exchange in the USA and a research fellowship in Austria. He chose to study at UC because of recommendations from his professors, and a research opening he couldn’t turn down.
‘There was an opportunity to work on an appealing and challenging project that matched my personal interests.’
This ability to work with leading HRI researchers and other colleagues, who share his passion, has been an enjoyable experience for Jakub.
‘At the HITLab I work in a very international team that is very welcoming and open to sharing knowledge and expertise. It is a stimulating environment and there are always many social activities that allow students not only to work, but also have fun together,’ he says.
He also appreciates the flexibility of study at UC, which he says has fewer restrictions and limitations on research and projects than at other universities. ‘I greatly enjoy the freedom of choosing the direction that my research will take.’
With his love for travelling and learning about other cultures, Jakub was also drawn to New Zealand for its beauty and nature. He has enjoyed the experiences that being an international student at UC has provided.
‘I always wanted to visit this part of the world,’ he says. ‘New Zealand has lots of destinations to visit. I have also enjoyed practising kapa haka with Māori students at Te Akatoki.
‘People are very friendly and welcoming, which is very helpful for international students. It is also quite easy to make new friends, which is equally important.’