Erik Billing

Erik Billing

Associate Senior Lecturer in Informatics

School of Informatics

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I am a researcher here at the Interaction Lab, working for the EU-founded project DREAM and the VGR-fuounded project Design, textile, and sustainable development. My research involves robot learning, human robot interaction, and modeling various aspects of human cognition. This work takes form in the development of robots used in therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder and the study of human and robot tactile interaction. I have also a big heart for robot learning from demonstration and wrote my PhD thesis on the topic, titled Cognition Rehearsed - Recognition and Reproduction of Demonstrated Behavior, presented January 2012. The thesis presents novel techniques for learning from human demonstration, inspired by several cognitive and neurocomputational models of learning. This work has continued also after my PhD, resulting in e.g. a recent publication in Frontiers of Robotics and AI. Read more at  


I'm the head of Swecog - Swedish Cognitive Science Society, a network of more than one hundred cognitive science researchers in Sweden. From January 2016, I'm coordinator for the cognitive science subject at the University of Skövde.


Please also refer to my profiles at Google scholar and ReserchGate.

R. Lowe, E. I. Barakova, E. A. Billing, J. Broekens (2016Special issue on Grounding Emotions in Robots. Adaptive Behaviour, 24 (5).

E. A. Billing, H. Svensson, R. Lowe, T. Ziemke (2016Finding Your Way from the Bed to the Kitchen: Re-enacting and Re-combining Sensorimotor Episodes Learned from Human DemonstrationFront. Robot. AI 3 (9). doi: 10.3389/frobt.2016.00009.

D. Vernon, E. A. Billing, P. Hemeren, S. Thill, T. Ziemke (2015An Architecture-oriented Approach to System Integration in Collaborative Robotics Research Projects — An Experience ReportJournal of Software Engineering for Robotics, 6 (1), p. 15-32.

E. A. Billing, R. Lowe, Y. Sandamirskaya (2015) Simultaneous Planning and Action: Neural-dynamic Sequencing of Elementary Behaviors in Robot NavigationAdaptive Behavior, 23(5), p. 243–264. SAGE Pub. [pdf]

E. A. Billing, J. Lindblom, T. Ziemke (2015Proceedings of the 2015 SWECOG conferenceSkövde University Studies in Informatics, ISSN 978-91-978513-8-1 ; 2015:3. 

E. A. Billing, T. Hellström, L. E. Janlert (2015Simultaneous recognition and reproduction of demonstrated behavior. In Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures, 12, p. 43–53. Elsevier. [pdf]

E. A. Billing and C. Balkenius (2014Modeling the Interplay between Conditioning and Attention in a Humanoid Robot: Habituation and Attentional Blocking. In Proceeding of The 4th International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics (IEEE ICDL-EPIROB), Genoa, Italy. October 13-16. p. 41-47. 

R. Lowe, Y. Sandarmirskaya, and E. A. Billing (2014) A Neural Dynamic Model of Associative Two-Process Theory: The Differential Outcomes Effect and Infant Development. In Proceeding of The 4th International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics (IEEE ICDL-EPIROB), Genoa, Italy. October 13-16. p. 41-47.

E. A. Billing, M. Servin (2013) Composer: A prototype multilingual model composition tool. In MODPROD2013: 7th MODPROD Workshop on Model-Based Product Development. Linköping University, February 5-6.

E. A. Billing (2012Cognition Rehearsed: Recognition and reproduction of demonstrated behavior. PhD Thesis. Department of Computing Science, Umeå University, Sweden.

E. A. Billing, T. Hellström, L. E. Janlert (2011Simultaneous control and recognition of demonstrated behavior. Technical report (UMINF)Department of Computing Science, Umeå University, Sweden.

E. A. Billing, T. Hellström, L. E. Janlert (2011Robot learning from demonstration using predictive sequence learning. In Dutta. Robotic systems: applications, control and programming. IN-TECH, p. 235-250. 

E. A. Billing, T. Hellström, L. E. Janlert (2011Predictive learning from demonstration. In J. Filipe. Second International Conference on Agents and Artificial Intelligence: ICAART 2010. Springer Verlag. Berlin.

E. A. Billing, T. Hellström, L. E. Janlert (2010Behavior recognition for learning from demonstration. In Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Anchorage, Alaska, May 3-8, p. 866-872.

E. A. Billing, T. Hellström, L. E. Janlert (2010Cognitive Perspectives on Robot Behavior. In ICAART 2010 - Proceedings of the international conference on agents and artificial intelligence: Special Session on Computing Languages with Multi-Agent Systems and Bio-Inspired Devices. Valencia, Spain, January 22-24, p. 373-382.

E. A. Billing, T. Hellström, L. E. Janlert (2010Model-free learning from demonstration. In ICAART 2010 - Proceedings of the international conference on agents and artificial intelligence:  volume 2. Valencia, Spain, January 22-24, p. 62-71.

E. A. Billing, T. Hellström (2010A formalism for learning from demonstration. In Paladyn: Journal of Behavioral Robotics, 1(1) p. 1-13. Versita. 

E. A. Billing, T. Hellström (2010Predictive Learning in Context. In Tenth International Conference on Epigenetic Robotics, Örenäs slott, Sweden, November 5-7.

E. A. Billing (2009Cognition Reversed: Robot learning from demonstration. Lic. Thesis. Department of Computing Science, Umeå University, Sweden.

E. A. Billing, T. Hellström (2008Behavior recognition for segmentation of demonstrated task. In IEEE SMC International Conference on Distributed Human-Machine Systems (DHMS). Athens, Greece, Match 9-12.

E. A. Billing (2005Simulation of Corticospinal Interaction for Motor Control. Master thesis. Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Umeå University, Sweden.

Public Appearances

Below is a list of invited presentations and other public appearances by Erik, both academic and directed to a non-academic audience.

A play with YuMi

November 25, 2016, Erik is invited for a breakfast talk at Elektroautomatik, discussing collaborative robot arms and their relation to social robotics.   

Umeå Cognitive Science Days 

November 11, Erik speaks at the Umeå Cognitive Science Days 2016, presenting some of his research and its connection to the cognitive sicence education in Umeå. 

Robot thoughts

October 27, 2016, Erik is invited to talk at Populärvetenskapligt Café in Skövde, a relaxed way to learn and discuss research - the subject is, as always, robots and cog. sci! 

A visit from Kanagawa

April 21, 2016, Erik and his colleges at the Interaction Lab receives a visit from the regional parlament of Kanagawa, Japan, presenting robotics research in the region. Read more in the univerity news (swedish only). 

The next big thing

April 8, 2016, Erik is interviewed on the TV4 national news about the future for robots in our homes. 

Robot in teaching

Robots can learn from humans, and we can learn from them. March 7, 2016, Erik speaks for teachers in Skaraborg, about robot, learning, and teaching. Read more at

Emotions in Robots

Together with Robert Lowe, Emilia Barakova, and Joost Broekens, Erik is editing a special issue on Grounding Emotions in Robots: Embodiment, Adaptation, Social Interaction, in Adaptive Behavior, with submission deadline March 1:st. 

For social services

November 27, 2015, Erik presents his research in the DREAM project for leaders and coordinators at the social services in Skaraborg

A Swedish-African cooperation

November 11, 2015, Erik is invited speaker at the STINT-conference, building future Swedish-African cooperation. 

Grounding emotions

September 28 - October 3, 2015, Erik is, together with Robert LoweEmilia Barakova, and Joost Broekens, organizing the workshop at the IROS conference, Hamburg, Germany. The workshop is titled Grounding robot autonomy: Emotional and social interaction in robot behaviour, with the aim of capturing emerging trends and common problems related to the interaction autonomy of social robots. 

Research on Friday

Friday, September 25, during ForskarFredag at the University of Skövde, Erik demonstrates imitation and other abilities of the Aldebaran Nao robots used for research.

Campaign against sex robots

September 15, 2015, Kathleen Richardson and Erik Billing launched a campaign against sex robots. The campaign received a lot of attention and in media, some of which is summarized on the campaign webpage. In Sweden, the campaign has been discussed in e.g. Swedish radio and IDG

Human-Robot Interaction

August 24 to 28, 2015, Erik is lecturing at the 2nd International Summer School on Social Human-Robot Interaction, Käringsund, Åland. 

Swecog 2015

Erik is, together with several other colleagues here at HIS, hosting a yearly conference by the Swedish Cognitive Science Society - Swecog. The conference takes place at the University of Skövde, June 15 to 16, 2015. More info at

Robot autonomy revised

June 1 to 5, Erik is, together with Emilia BarakovaRobert Lowe, and Joost Broekens, hosting the workshop Robot autonomy revised: grounding emotions and cognitive states in robot behavior at the IWINAC2015

Therapy with robots

April 27, 2015, Erik visits the BUP at Skaraborg hospital, presenting research on robot therapy for children with autism spectrum disporder

A visit to Umeå

January 16, 2015, Erik holds and invited talk on topics from three on-going research projects: DREAM, Neural Dynamics, and SmartTextiles, at the Department of Computing Science, Umeå University.  

Fear for the future

January 15, 2015, Skövde Nyheter publish an interview with Erik in response to Stewen Hawking's recent BBC article, warning for AI being a threat to humanity. Erik may not be less worrid than Hawking, but for different reasons.


October 30, 2014, Erik visits Stureplan Youth Center in Skara, Sweden, for a full night out with the robots, and some coffee! 


October 14, 2014, Erik presents his paper Modeling the Interplay between Conditioning and Attention in a Humanoid Robot: Habituation and Attentional Blocking at the Forth Joint IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics, Genua, Italy. 

The robot that can help children with ASD

Erik and Prof. Tom Ziemke are interviewed in Swedish radio, in relation to the Dream project. The interview went on air September 24, 2014. Read more and listen to the interview at  

Neuromorphic Cognition 

June 29th to July 19th, 2014, together with Yulia Sandamirskaya, Erik is responsible for a track of the Telluride Neuromorphic Cognition Engineering Workshop, Telluride, Colorado. The track is titled Planning with Dynamic Neural Fields


June 17, 2014, our lab had a visit from Balthazar in Skövde, a science center aimed at engaging children in science. A group of kids from the age of 10 to 12 got the opportunity to interact with the Nao robot from Aldebaran

IASA Global

June 12, 2014, Erik gave a web seminar for the International IT Arcgitect Association IASA. The seminar focused on software architectures for modern robots. Please see the recorded seminar at IASA. 

The Dream

June 2, 2014, Erik and colleges appear in the local newspaper SLA, presenting the European research project Dream. The goal of the project is to develop robot enhanced therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder. 

ITARC 2014

April 2, 2014, Erik is invited speaker at ITARC, an annual conference for IT-architects in Sweden, arranged by Dataföreningen Kompetens and IASA – Sveriges IT arkitekter. More info at HIS News

Kjell och klortanten

February 20, 2014, Erik participates in the swedish pod cast Kjell och Klortanten, about robots and environmental effects. 

Computer Sweden

December 23, 2013, Erik appears in the popular news magazine Computer Sweden, commenting the development of intelligent robots. Author: Kenneth Tarre.

Summer School in Social Signal Processing

August 5, 2013, Erik is responsible for a Workshop on social robotics, within the Swecog Summer School on Social Signal Processing (SSP). 

Lärardagarna 2012 

This year, Erik takes part in the education days for teachers at elementary and upper secondary schools, held by the Faculty of Science and Technology. October 31, Erik is responsible for a workshop on how to use robots in education. 


Research Friday is an event that takes place all over Europe, on September 28 2012. The goal of the event is to give people a chance to meet researchers in new and inspiring situations. Erik participates with a talk about the future of robotics, in Umivatoriet. More information at 

Swecog Summer School

Erik attends the Swecog summer school week, August 13-18, with a lecture on the interaction between the fields  of robotics and cognitive science. 


May 2, 2012, Erik appears in the local newspaper in an article about his past life as a PhD student

NOT 2012

April 24 & 25, 2012. Within the project NOT (Nature and Technology) that brings pupils from elementary and secondary shools to Umeå University, Erik participates with the lecture Vad tänker robotar på?

Reading intentions

March 7, 2012, Erik presents his research at the workshop Reading Intentions, organized by Lund University and the Pufendorf Institute. 

Computer Sweden

March 2, 2012, Erik appears in the popular news magazine Computer Sweden, commenting the current and future development in the field of intelligent robots. Author: Anders Lotsson

Ny teknik

February 15, 2012, Erik appears in the Swedish magazine Ny Teknik, presenting his research and possible applications. Author: Stefan Nordberg

Äkta människor

Februari 6, 2012. The newly baked doctor appears in Swedish radio P4 Jönköping, commenting the Swedish tv-series Äkta människor and the possibilities for real world humanoid robots.


January 26, 2012, Erik presents his PhD thesis Cognition Rehearsed - Recognition and Reproduction of Demonstrated Behavior. Read more and

Erik on TV

January 24, 25 and 29, Erik appears in Swedish television SVT Västerbottensnytt, Nordnytt and Landet runt, discussing the future of humanoid robots.

True humans and real robots

January 23, 2012. Erik appears on InfoTech news and, commenting the Swedish TV-series Äkta människor and puts it in relation to the kind of robots that already exist, and may come in the future. 


November 1, 2011. Erik gives an introduction to intelligent robotics for teachers within Lärarlyftet.


September 15, 2011. A popular science lunch seminar at Café Station in central Umeå. The theme is: What do robots think about? The audience receives an crash course in intelligent robotics - what does it mean to say that a machine is thinking and how is our society changing when autonomous machines enters our homes, streets and battlefields. More information at Vetenskapslunchsidan. More information atInfoTech

Workshop at Swecog Summer School

August 14, 2011. Erik is responsible for a workshop on data visualization at the Swecog Summer School. Read more at

Joint Statistical Seminar

May 31, 2011. Erik presents his research at a Joint Statistical Seminar. The seminar series is a cooperation between the Department of Statistics and the Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics

Research presentation at the Swecog spring conference

May 14, 2011. Erik presents his research at the Swecog spring conference. Swecog is a Swedish National Graduate School on Cognitive Science and one of the main research networks on cognitive science in Sweden.

Presentations for schools in Umeå

April 7, 2011. Within the project NOT (Nature and Technology) that brings pupils from elementary and secondary shools to Umeå University, Erik has two presentations with the title Fåglar, Fiskar, Flockar och Termiter

Umestudent för en helg

March 13, 2011. "Umestudent för en helg" let students from upper secondary schools around Sweden visit Umeå University in order to see what it is about. Erik participates with two presentations with the title What robots think about.

Erik on the radio

January 27, 2011, Erik was interviewed for the program Vetenskap in Swedish radio, channel P4. Read more, or listen to the interview at More information at InfoTech.

Everyday robotics

October 29, 2010. Togeather with the rest of the Intelligent Robotics Group in Umeå, Erik is discussing robots stepping into everyday environments, in an interview byInfoTech Umeå.

Licentiate thesis

December 16, 2009, Erik presents his Licentiate thesis with the title Cognition Reversed - Robot Learning from Demonstration. Read more at

Erik Billing

New special issue!

Together with Robert Lowe, Emilia Barakova, and Joost Broekens, Erik is guest editor of the Special issue on Grounding Emotions in Robots, published October 2016 in Adaptive Bheavior!