Robotics Intern, Human-Robot Interaction (HRI)

Cambridge, MA
Robotics – Internships - Summer 2024 /
Intern /
At Toyota Research Institute (TRI), we’re on a mission to improve the quality of human life. We’re developing new tools and capabilities to amplify the human experience. To lead this transformative shift in mobility, we’ve built a world-class team in Robotics, Human-Centered AI, Human Interactive Driving, and Energy & Materials.

This is a summer 2024 paid 12-week internship opportunity. Please note that this internship will be an in-office role.

The Team

The Punyo team bridges complementary research and engineering expertise in physical human-robot interaction, user-centered design, soft robotics, humanoid systems, software development, educational & entertainment electronics, planning and controls, and robot learning. We're working on highly compliant tactile “bubble” sensors and algorithms to put them to human-centered use, and innovating ways to physically support and amplify older adults in a variety of ways such as domestic manipulation skills, contact guarding assistance (think of helping someone up from a chair), affective touch, companionship, and social inclusion.

The Internship

We are looking for an intern researcher to contribute to our Robotics User Experience and Interaction Design (RUX-ID)’s Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) research program in our Cambridge, MA office! In collaboration with our Dexterous Manipulation team members, you will focus on designing physical human-robot interactions. Every day, you will help to rapidly test new concepts by creating interaction specifications, user flows, and wireframes. You will implement controllers and/or planners that facilitate HRI and continuously develop and run experiments on real hardware that interacts with real people leading to the production of maintainable code and documentation. Lastly, you will have the opportunity to present your study findings to your colleagues and the larger TRI organization. We welcome you to join a positive, friendly, and enthusiastic team of researchers, where your research will contribute to helping people gain independence, access, and mobility.


    • Pursuing MS or PhD degree in Human-Robot Interaction, Human-Computer Interaction, Human Factors, Robotics, Computer Science, or a related field or equivalent practical experience.
    • 2+ years experience as an academic Human-Robot Interaction researcher.
    • Experience with at least one of the following: behavior cloning, reinforcement learning, imitation learning, and related.
    • Strong software engineering skills (C++ / Python preferred) and experience analyzing/debugging autonomous robotic systems.
    • Experience with deploying and/or field-servicing prototype technologies.
    • Experience with writing peer-reviewed conference papers or journal articles as lead author.
    • Desire to contribute back to the robotics community with publications and open source code.
    • Familiarity with robotic simulators including Drake, Mujoco, Bullet, etc. and/or original ROS or ROS2.
    • Passion for seeing robotics help humans and have a real-world, large-scale impact.

Bonus Qualifications

    • Experience in tactile sensing, modeling soft-contact, or soft robotics.
    • Expertise/Experience in machine learning around user behavioral modeling, adapting to individual user’s preferences, and preference changes over time.
    • Knowledge of optimization and sampling based planners for physical, reactive planning and control, trajectory optimization, or coordinated whole-body control.
    • System integration experience around complex, open-ended,and  multi-functional projects.
    • Experience with qualitative and quantitative user research, including developing user study materials, IRB applications, facilitation and interviewing, management of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and statistical analysis.
Please add a link to Google Scholar and include a full list of publications when submitting your CV to this position.

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