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Postdoc on Law, Data Science, Robotics & AI 0,8 – 1,0 FTE

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Leiden Law School, Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw) is looking for a

Postdoc on Law, Data Science, Robotics & AI 0,8 – 1,0 FTE

Vacancy number 13907

eLaw, the Center for Law and Digital Technologies at Leiden University, is looking for a Ph.D. on Law and Robotics, with a special focus on mobile servant robots (i.e., social robots).

There is an increasing gap between the policy cycle’s speed and technological change. This gap is noticeable in healthcare robotics, where policies are scattered and cover the issues that robots entail unevenly. This disconnect results in robot developers failing to integrate essential legal considerations into their designs, user safety not always ensured, and the development of systems that may cause harm to patients. While other sectors enjoy evidence-based policies that translate policy goals into practical guidance, these frameworks have yet to emerge for robotic technology.

The ERC StG SAFE&SOUND (–sound-towards-evidence-based-policies-for-safe-and-sound-robots) works out a mechanism capable of matching emerging technology to regulation and vice versa by heralding a practical and dynamic route to identify regulatory gaps for specific care robot technologies through inclusive and collaborative mechanisms, test these gaps in experimental settings featuring future-facing mitigation strategies, and reuse the data generated for robot evidence-based policies. The ground-breaking idea behind SAFE&SOUND is to use robot simulators to help improve specific robots and their regulation. By using such knowledge, SAFE&SOUND has the potential to set the policy debate around robot and AI technologies on a better and more grounded footing. SAFE&SOUND advances research on the use of science for robot policy and opens avenues toward an evidence-based regulatory model for robots in the EU that guides rather than catches up with robot (r)evolution and is more attuned to societal needs and fundamental rights.

The research objectives of SAFE&SOUND are:

  • RO1: Identify regulatory gaps for personal care robots
  • RO2: Test uncovered legal challenges for personal care robots
  • RO3: Leverage robot testing zones data to support evidence-based policy change
  • RO4: Investigate science for robot policy conception, effectiveness and sustainability


As a PhD researcher at eLaw, you will advance the knowledge of science for robot policy. In concrete, you will use systematic evidence maps for investigating RO1 for mobile servant robots as described in ISO 13482:2014 ( Systematic evidence mapping is a novel method in social science that uses systematic review methods to identify the amount and type of evidence available to address a particular topic and has been used to support evidence-based decision-making in chemicals policy and risk management but not yet for robotics. Once identified the gaps in standards and legislation, you will design experiments at Leiden University Robot Lab at the LIACS department in preparation to do the testing in RO2 in the testing zones created by the Eurobench project ( A postdoctoral researcher will help you out process the data generated afterwards. In particular, we are interested in understanding how we can effectively generate and leverage data for robot policy change. We also want to know how these data could promote more inclusive robotics designs and how patient organizations could benefit from them.

Within this narrative, you will contribute to several ongoing activities, projects, and initiatives in our group at Leiden University, including:

Because postdoctoral researchers must grow and excel, you will also have time to forge your research line and explore the topics dearest to you.

Key responsibilities

  • Independent performance of research in science for robot policies, with a focus on diversity, autonomy, and safety;
  • Use legal design, a method that brings design thinking, user research, and human-centered design to deliver legal knowledge usable, useful, and engaging for different communities to work out a model supporting multi stakeholder recommendations for policy change.;
  • Preparing questionnaires, conducting interviews with affected stakeholders, and processing the outcomes in deliverables and publications;
  • Disseminating academic results in leading international and peer-reviewed scientific journals and top-tier conferences;
  • Communicating project results to the broader public in different formats, including blog posts, podcasts, media material, or art installations;
  • Management and coordination tasks within ongoing projects and initiatives of the center;
  • Expanding teaching experience by preparing some guest lectures in existing bachelor’s or master’s courses;
  • Contributing to the team spirit of eLaw.

Selection Criteria

  • A completed PhD in the field of data science, mechanical engineering, computer science with a mixed background in value-sensitive design, ethics, or law. Candidates who have not yet completed their PhD but have an approved manuscript can also apply. Candidates without an approved manuscript are not eligible for this position;
  • Academic background in diversity, technology law, artificial intelligence, robotics, or data science;
  • Experience with empirical legal research, including survey and questionnaire preparation, interviews, and data processing;
  • Experience in assistive technologies, in particular lower-limb exoskeletons and socially assistive robotics is an advantage, but not a strict requirement;
  • Availability to travel internationally to the testing zones created by the H2020 Eurobench project (;
  • Familiarity with the background information that supported the creation of the ERC StG SAFE&SOUND (more info, and–sound-towards-evidence-based-policies-for-safe-and-sound-robots);
  • Excellent research and writing qualities, demonstrated by (international, peer-reviewed) publications, dissertation, and outreach activities;
  • Experience in submitting research proposals to grant organizations;
  • Experience in working in multidisciplinary and/or international teams, including sensitivity and inclusiveness regarding cultural differences among staff and students;
  • Enthusiastic and proactive, with excellent interpersonal and communication skills, spoken and written;
  • Excellent team player and warm community builder;
  • Excellent English, spoken and written. Command of other European languages, including Spanish and Italian, is an advantage.


Leiden University

Leiden is a typical university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The university permeates the local surroundings. The university premises are scattered throughout the city and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere. Leiden University is one of Europe’s foremost research universities. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia.


Leiden Law School, Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw)

With over 6500 students and 650 members of staff, Leiden Law School is one of the largest faculties in The Netherlands. Yet, in all its diversity, it is still known for its ability to provide education on a small scale. The Faculty focuses on multi-faceted and high-level teaching and research, both nationally and internationally. It does so by working with talented people, and stimulating and supporting them in their professional and personal ambitions. The Faculty is housed in the beautifully restored Kamerlingh Onnes Building on the Steenschuur in Leiden. Working for the Leiden Law School means working in an inspiring scientific environment. For more information, on the Center for Law and Digital Information on Leiden University employment

The Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw) was founded in 1985 and has a leading role in research and education on law and digital technologies. The Center studies the social, legal and normative impact of emerging digital technologies. The focus of our research and education is particularly on digital technologies and their interplay with fundamental rights and the rule of law. Key themes in our research and education are: online privacy and personal data protection; cybercrime and cybersecurity; data science and law; internet governance; law and complexity in digital society; electronic communications law; children’s rights in the digital world; fundamental rights and digital technologies; platform regulation; regulation of AI; law and human-machine interaction; legal technologies; ethics and digital technologies.

Terms and conditions

This isa 0.8-1.0 fte postdoctoral researcher position, starting around 1 November 2023 (open for discussion for before or later). The period of employment is 5 years with a 1 year probation time. If the employee performs well, the duration of the contract will be 5 years.

Salary ranges from €2,960.- to €4,670.- gross per month on a full-time basis (pay scale 10, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). Salary scale depends on education and experience.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More information here.

Within our policy framework on quality, almost all academic staff at the Faculty of Law have obtained a PhD degree and have met the requirements for the advanced research qualification. In addition, they make a significant contribution to the faculty research program. More information on the advanced research qualification and research programs of the Graduate School of Legal Studies

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are core values of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive. We therefore especially welcome applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Additional Information

Further information about the position can be obtained from Dr. Fosch-Villaronga, email [email protected]. For more details on the procedure, please contact our secretary, email [email protected].

Within our policy framework on quality, almost all academic staff at the Faculty of Law have obtained a PhD degree and have met the requirements for the advanced research qualification. In addition, they make a significant contribution to the faculty research program. More information on the advanced research qualification and research programs of the Graduate School of Legal Studies can be found on:


Please submit your application online no later than 1/09/2023 

Applicants should submit:

  1. An online motivation letter of interest with
  2. A clear explanation ofhow the candidate intends to contribute to the key responsibilitiesas described in the vacancy;
  3. A motivation statement explaining how the candidate is the best suited for this position andwhy their skills and experience matches the selection criteriaas described in the vacancy;
  4. A list of concrete ideas to conduct research on the topics of science for robot policy, in reference to the literature and bibliography described in the research page of the project (–sound-towards-evidence-based-policies-for-safe-and-sound-robots).
  5. An updated CV with a list of publications, outreach activities, and relevant experience.

Acquisition following this advertisement is not appreciated.

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