'Robotic technology is rapidly developing...'
PhD in Human Interface Technology
Postdoctoral Fellow, Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology CITEC, Bielefeld University, Germany
Visiting Fellow, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
‘Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) is a very multidisciplinary area,’ says Jakub Zlotowski, who completed a PhD in Human Interface Technology at UC.
‘I investigated 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 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, and has since completed a number of research projects at universities around the world.
Shortly after graduating UC, Jakub completed two separate projects at Osaka University in Japan, alongside Professor Ishiguro who is a world leader in the development of geminoids, or robots that are replicas of real people. Jakub had already worked with him as part of his PhD studies in Japan, through the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR).
He later completed a project with Abu Dhabi University, investigating how people perceive social robots and their expectations based on the robot’s appearance.
Jakub is now a Postdoctoral Fellow with Bielefeld University in Germany, and is currently in Brisbane working with the Queensland University of Technology as a Visiting Fellow.
‘I am involved in research on identifying nonverbal cues of human attitude toward a robot, and the perception of android/geminoid race and its impact on HRI. I am still collaborating with UC researchers on some of these projects,’ he says.
‘Apart from strictly HRI-focused projects, I am actively researching unethical practices common in the field and discussing their consequences for science in general.’
Originally from Poland, Jakub completed a master’s degree in Finland, a study exchange in the USA and did 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.
‘Since my graduation, the two things that I miss the most from UC are library resources and close-knit lab environment. The selection of books and online scientific databases at UC was excellent, and in a rare case where a particular material that I needed was not available, it was possible to use an interloan service.
‘As for the lab environment, at HIT Lab it was common not only to work together, but also spend free time doing various activities as a group. Fellow lab mates were not only friends, but also formed a support group during one's PhD studies and we are still in touch despite moving to different countries.’
With his love for travelling and learning about other cultures, Jakub was also drawn to New Zealand for its beauty and nature. He enjoyed the experiences that being an international student at UC provided.
‘I always wanted to visit this part of the world,’ he says. ‘New Zealand has lots of destinations to visit. I 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.’