Prospecting a Prospectus

Today it is exactly 13 months since I enrolled as a PhD student here in Lugano, at the Universit√† della Svizzera Italiana (USI). It’s time to write my research prospectus, or at least try to find out what that is *uhm*
Although I am working for over a year here at IDSIA I have not yet a clear idea what I will do, but I heard that is normal in graduate school. So finally I set down and wrote up some ideas of what I want/can do in the next years to get my doctorate.

There are some rough ideas that I have, mainly just stuff floating around in my brain, but I am pretty sure those are not yet concrete enough for a thesis topic. As I was heavily involved in making the iCub see recently I though that might be of a good start for the work. One of the ideas behind the iCub was to build a robot that can be used to investigate human development and cognition and how to transfer it to robots (see Metta et al).
The platform is particularly well suited for research into object manipulation and interaction. Recently also IIT has posted some positions investigating grasping and transfer or knowledge from humans to robots and maybe the other way around too.
I am currently looking into visually guided grasping for the iCub. Much work has been done on force/touch guided grasping. In our robot though the readout of the force sensor in the fingertips seems to be rather noise and more or less useless (unless you have a nice metallic object). Approaches taken from the (partly overlapping fields of) cognitive robotics, developmental robotics and evolutionary robotics seem to be the most interesting to try and build a sensorimotor representation for reaching and grasping. I think this might be interesting and novel enough, we will see what happens when I try to write this down …

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