call for PhD student or postdoctoral student in HRI

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Department of Computer Science

ABC (Agricultural, Biological and Cognitive) Robotics Center

Doctoral/Post-doctoral Position in

Human-Robot Collaboration

Promoting intent and context based interaction and collaboration of humans and robots will be of high importance in the near future, when ‘things’ around us will have more intelligence.

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD student or post-doctoral fellow to lead a research aimed at promoting intent and context based interaction and collaboration of humans and robots. Such interaction requires the development of novel intent based interfaces (e.g., brain computer interaction) and the generation of a shared (e.g., via augmented reality) mental model for both human and robot. It also requires investigation of how collaboration is built over time and how context may affect it. The current effort takes a multidisciplinary perspective of human-robot relations and focuses on integration of multiple paradigms.

We are looking for candidates with a strong computational background interested in setting up and leading new and exciting research directions.

Closing date for applications: 30 May 2014 or until all positions are filled.

Candidates applying by above closing date will be informed by July 2014.

Starting date: 1 October 2014 or earlier

For more information, please contact:

Prof. Tal Oron-Gilad, Human Factors Engineering –

Dr. Oren Shriki, Cognitive and Brain Sciences –

Dr. Idit Shalev, Cognitive and Brain Sciences –

Dr. Jihad El-Sana, Computer Science and augmented reality –

See also

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BGU is seeking PhD and postdoctoral students for advanced research in multidisciplinary robotics

ABC Robotics Center (Agricultural, Biological and Cognitive Robotics) at BGU is  seeking outstanding students for advanced research in multidisciplinary robotics

All applicants must be skilled in both oral and written communication in English and be able to work independently as well as in collaboration with others.

PhD applicants must have completed an MSc degree in Engineering, Natural Sciences, Computer Sciences or Psychology with a thesis. Experience in artificial intelligence, robotics, cognitive science and programming is an advantage. The application should include a CV, a list of academic grades, a copy of degree project report, a list of publications, three personal references (one from the MSc thesis advisor) and one A4 page describing the personal motivation for applying for this position. Ph.D. candidates must submit a research proposal and pass a qualification exam on their research proposal within the first year of the PhD studies. The PhD thesis should be completed within a 4-year timeframe. The ABC Robotics Ph.D. Scholarship covers tuition fees and a monthly stipend. The candidate will receive a minimum of 6,930 NIS per month for a duration of 4 years.

The ABC Robotics Postdoc Scholarship is 10,116 NIS per month for a duration of 2 years.

Additional requirements and details may be found at:

Applicants should send all necessary registration information to Ms. Sima Koram, email: as indicated in

and send a copy of their application to:

 ******     Specific research topics are proposed at:

Closing date for applications: 30 May 2014 or until all positions are filled. Candidates applying by above closing date will be informed by July 2014.

Starting date: 1 October 2014 or earlier

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Coding warnings without interfering with dismounted soldiers’ mission


Objectives: Warnings are an effective way to communicate hazard, yet they can also increase task demand when presented to operators involved in real-world tasks. Furthermore, in military-related tasks warnings are often given in codes to avoid counter-intelligence, which may foster additional working memory load. Background: Adherence to warnings in the military domain is crucial to promote safety and reduce accidents and injuries. The empirical question arises as to how aspects of coding the warning may interfere with the primary task the individual is currently performing and vice versa. Method: Six experimental conditions were designed to assess how warning-code storage format, response format, and increasing working memory demand (retention) affected both performance on the primary task and the rate of compliance to warnings, considered here as the secondary task. Results: Results revealed that the combination of warning-code storage and response format affected compliance rate and the highest compliance occurred when warnings were presented as pictorials and responses were coded verbally. Contrary to the proposed hypotheses, warning storage format did not affect performance on the primary task, which was only affected by the level of working memory demand. Thus, the intra-modal warning storages did not interfere with the visual/spatial nature of the primary operational task. However, increase in working memory demand, by increasing the number of memorized warning codes, had an effect on both compliance rate and primary task performance. Conclusions: Rather than warning code storage alone, it is the coupling of warning storage and response format that has the most significant effect on compliance.

The WCCOM (Warning-Color COding Modality) compliance task

This task was developed in collaboration with our colleague Prof. Paul Ward now at Greenwich University in the UK.

The task has  storage and retention components. Each warning item is paired with one of ten possible colours. The storage component requires memorizing the colour associated with each warning symbol (e.g., boots – black). The retention component involves recalling the stored symbol from the colour presented (e.g., black means boots). Both components of the task, the warning item and the color, were displayed in the same modality. There were three options of storage; pictorial, written or verbal as shown in the Figure. This task aims to examine the sensitivity of working memory to presentation modality when engaging  in a demanding operational task.

WCCOM (Warning-Color COding Modality) compliance task

WCCOM (Warning-Color COding Modality) compliance task

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In Touch With the Simon Effect

Salzer, Y., Aisenberg, D., Oron-Gilad, T., & Henik, A. (2013, October 24). In Touch With the Simon Effect. Experimental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1027/1618-3169/a000236

Abstract:  Cognitive control has been extensively studied using the auditory and visual modalities. In the current study, a tactile version of the Simon task was created in order to test control mechanisms in a modality that was less studied, to provide comparative and new information. A significant Simon effect – reaction time gap between congruent (i.e., stimulus and response in the same relative location) and incongruent (i.e., stimulus and response in opposite locations) stimuli – provided grounds to further examine both general and tactile-specific aspects of cognitive control in three experiments. By implementing a neutral condition and conducting sequential and distributional analysis, the present study: (a) supports two different independent mechanisms of cognitive control – reactive control and proactive control; (b) reveals facilitation and interference within the tactile Simon effect; and (c) proposes modality differences in activation and processing of the spatially driven
stimulus-response association.

Method: Four experiments of tactile Simon task, preceded by an alerting signal (AS) in visual, auditory and two architectures of tactile.


Two types of tactile signals were developed for this task. All stimuli were displayed on the participant’s back.


Two type of “Neutral” tactile alerting signals were used

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Visual search strategies of child-pedestrians in road crossing tasks

Hagai Tapiro, Anat Meir, Yisrael Parmet & Tal Oron-Gilad

Presentation at HFES-EU Annual meeting, Torino 2013


Children are over-represented in road accidents, often due to their limited ability to perform well in road crossing tasks. The present study examined children’s visual search strategies in hazardous road-crossing situations. A sample of 33 young participants (ages 7-13) and 21 adults observed 18 different road-crossing scenarios in a 180° dome shaped mixed reality simulator. Gaze data was collected while participants made the crossing decisions. It was used to characterize their visual scanning strategies. Results showed that age group, limited field of view, and the presence of moving vehicles affect the way pedestrians allocate their attention in the scene. Adults tend to spend relatively more time in further peripheral areas of interest than younger pedestrians do. It was also found that the oldest child age group (11-13) demonstrated more resemblance to the adults in their visual scanning strategy, which can indicate on a learning process that originates from gaining experience and maturation. Characterization of child pedestrian eye movements can be used to determine readiness for independence as pedestrians. The results of this study, emphasize the differences among age groups in terms of visual scanning. This information can contribute to promote awareness and training directions.

Dirichlet regression model and analysis

For each scenario, five areas of interest were defined (as shown in the Figure). The close range central area was defined as the 10 meters of road in each side from the pedestrian’s point of view (AOI 3). Then symmetrically areas to the right of the center and to the left were defined. The medium right/left range (AOIs 2/4) was the part of the road distant at least 10 meter to the right/left of the point of view but less than 100 meters away. The far right/left range (AOIs 1/5) was the part of the road at least 100 meter or more to the right/left of the pedestrian point of view.



Open this link to see a sample video of a scenario as seen by a young pedestrian

Why Dirichlet?

  • For each participant and scenario, the total Gaze distribution over the five AOI’s sums up to one.
  • Therefore Gaze distribution is compositional data i.e., non-negative proportions with unit-sum.
  • These types of data arise whenever we classify objects into disjoint categories and record their resulting relative frequencies, or partition a whole measurement into percentage contributions from its various parts.
  • Attempts to apply statistical methods for unconstrained data often lead to inappropriate inference.
  • Dirichlet regression suggested by Hijazi and Jernigan (2009) is more suitable for such cases.

How to use?

  • The Dirichlet regression model was fitted using DirichletReg package, in R Language. Applying a backward elimination procedure found the best fitting model has three significant main effects.

What did we find?

  • The dependent variable was the vector of AOIs and the independent variables were Age-group, POV and FOV; all of them were statistically significant (p <0.05). Predicted means for the percentage of time spent in each AOI for each age group based on the Dirichlet regression model are shown in the following figure and reveal differences among age groups. Note how children aged 9-10 spend more time gazing at the central area, note also the differences between mid-left and mid-right.
Predicted means (in each AOI) using Dirichlet model across all scenarios per age group

Predicted means (in each AOI) using Dirichlet model across all scenarios per age group

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IsraHCI2014 – call for papers


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IsraelDefense Conference on Unmanned Vehicles in Complex Environments (UVID 2013)

UVID International conference held on 10/10/2013.

Our paper “Is More Information Better? How Dismounted Soldiers Use Video Feed From Unmanned Vehicles: Attention Allocation and Information Extraction Considerations” won the best paper award for research articles in the area of unmanned systems and human factors. The award ceramony will take place at the conference.

Award ceramony with Alon Unger, the conference chair, Ophir Shoham, IMOD, and Prof. Daniel Weiss

Award ceramony with Alon Unger, the conference chair, Ophir Shoham, IMOD, and Prof. Daniel Weiss

Dr. Oron-Gilad presenting at the UVID conference

IsraDefence Conference on Unmanned Systems 2013

IsraelDefense Conference on Unmanned Vehicles in Complex Environments (UVID 2013)

Conference program can be seen at the following link:

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