PhD Position Hybrid AI for Human Behavior Prediction

PhD Position Hybrid AI for Human Behavior Prediction

Published Deadline Location
24 Feb 5 Apr Delft

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Challenge: Automated vehicles capable of interacting with humans around them
Change: Integration of data-driven and model-based predictions of human behavior
Impact: Generalizable and explicable behavior prediction methods

Job description

TU Delft is a top tier university and is exceedingly active in the field of Artificial Intelligence. HERALD Lab is devoted to the development of novel computational frameworks to enable AI-based automated driving systems to safely and robustly interact with the humans and the uncertain environment around them. Our long-term ambition is to lay a foundation for the development of future automated vehicles which can reliably and beneficially interact with humans while maintaining human responsibility for their operation.

To be able to predict the behavior of the humans around them, automated vehicles (AVs) need to have coherent and calibrated models of these humans. Such models can be potentially learned from scratch using the rich data collected on the roads. However, as much as machine-learned models of human behavior are powerful, they are prone to a number of well-known issues (susceptibility to distribution shifts, lack of explainability, need for large training datasets). At the same time, psychology and neuroscience have studied human behavior for many decades, and offer a variety of mathematical models that have potential for improving real-time human behavior prediction by AVs.

Your aim will be to develop a hybrid behavior prediction framework that integrates cognitively plausible mathematical models of human road user behavior with data-driven machine-learned models in a way that brings out the best of both worlds. You will address the challenges of combining heterogeneous representations of human intentions, accounting for uncertainty due to individual differences between humans, and integrating hybrid behavioral models into AV motion planning frameworks. Your work will enable AVs to interact with humans smoothly and responsibly by predicting their behavior in a reliable and interpretable way.

HERALD Lab is a Delft Artificial Intelligence Lab (DAI-Lab). Artificial Intelligence, Data and Digitalisation are becoming increasingly important when looking for answers to major scientific and societal challenges. In a DAI-Lab, experts in ‘the fundamentals of AI technology’ along with experts in ‘AI challenges’ run a shared lab. As a PhD, you will work with at least two academic members of staff and three other PhD candidates. In total TU Delft will establish 24 DAI-Labs, where 48 Tenure Trackers and 96 PhD candidates will have the opportunity to push the boundaries of science using AI. You will be a member of the thriving DAI-Lab community that fosters cross fertilization between talents with different expertise and disciplines.

Each team is driven by research questions which arise from scientific and societal challenges, and contribute to the development and execution of domain specific education. You will receive a 5-year contract and will be deployed for AI-related education for the usual teaching effort for PhD students in the faculty plus an additional 20%. The extra year compared to the usual 4-year contract accommodates the 20% additional AI, Data and Digitalisation education related activities. All team members have many opportunities for self-development.

HERALD Lab is led by Arkady Zgonnikov and Luca Laurenti. You will work at the Department of Cognitive Robotics (Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering) and will be supervised by Arkady Zgonnikov and Jens Kober.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


Need to have

  • A MSc degree in artificial intelligence, robotics, computer science and engineering, computational cognitive science, or related areas.
  • Open-mindedness and motivated interest in interdisciplinary research.
  • Affinity with teaching and supervising students.
  • Solid mathematical background.
  • Strong programming skills.
  • Ability to take initiative.
  • Proficient in written and verbal English.

Experience with one or more of the following topics is considered a plus: automated vehicles, human behavior prediction, cognitive modeling, inverse reinforcement learning, deep neural networks for time-continuous data prediction (e.g. LSTM, variational autoencoders).

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 5 years.

TU Delft offers DAI-Lab PhD-candidates a 5-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. The duration of your employment contract corresponds to the envisaged time of 5 years to complete your Doctoral programme as agreed with you. As a DAI lab PhD candidate you will be specifically deployed for AI-related education within the DAI labs programme. Therefore the duration of your employment contract is 5 years instead of a standard 4 year PhD contract. The extra year accommodates for the additional teaching load with regard to AI, Data and Digitalization education related activities.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3217 in the fifth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health
insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible
work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to
Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

The Faculty of 3mE carries out pioneering research, leading to new fundamental insights and challenging applications in the field of mechanical engineering. From large-scale energy storage, medical instruments, control technology and robotics to smart materials, nanoscale structures and autonomous ships. The foundations and results of this research are reflected in outstanding, contemporary education, inspiring students and PhD candidates to become socially engaged and responsible engineers and scientists. The faculty of 3mE is a dynamic and innovative faculty with an international scope and high-tech lab facilities. Research and education focus on the design, manufacture, application and modification of products, materials, processes and mechanical devices, contributing to the development and growth of a sustainable society, as well as prosperity and welfare.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering. Do you want to experience working at our faculty? This video will introduce you to some of our researchers and their work.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 32—38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • TUD00859


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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