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2013


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Branch&Rank for Efficient Object Detection

Lehmann, A., Gehler, P., VanGool, L.

International Journal of Computer Vision, Springer, December 2013 (article)

Abstract
Ranking hypothesis sets is a powerful concept for efficient object detection. In this work, we propose a branch&rank scheme that detects objects with often less than 100 ranking operations. This efficiency enables the use of strong and also costly classifiers like non-linear SVMs with RBF-TeX kernels. We thereby relieve an inherent limitation of branch&bound methods as bounds are often not tight enough to be effective in practice. Our approach features three key components: a ranking function that operates on sets of hypotheses and a grouping of these into different tasks. Detection efficiency results from adaptively sub-dividing the object search space into decreasingly smaller sets. This is inherited from branch&bound, while the ranking function supersedes a tight bound which is often unavailable (except for rather limited function classes). The grouping makes the system effective: it separates image classification from object recognition, yet combines them in a single formulation, phrased as a structured SVM problem. A novel aspect of branch&rank is that a better ranking function is expected to decrease the number of classifier calls during detection. We use the VOC’07 dataset to demonstrate the algorithmic properties of branch&rank.

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pdf link (url) [BibTex]

2013


pdf link (url) [BibTex]


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Strong Appearance and Expressive Spatial Models for Human Pose Estimation

Pishchulin, L., Andriluka, M., Gehler, P., Schiele, B.

In International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 3487 - 3494 , IEEE, Computer Vision (ICCV), IEEE International Conference on , December 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Typical approaches to articulated pose estimation combine spatial modelling of the human body with appearance modelling of body parts. This paper aims to push the state-of-the-art in articulated pose estimation in two ways. First we explore various types of appearance representations aiming to substantially improve the body part hypotheses. And second, we draw on and combine several recently proposed powerful ideas such as more flexible spatial models as well as image-conditioned spatial models. In a series of experiments we draw several important conclusions: (1) we show that the proposed appearance representations are complementary; (2) we demonstrate that even a basic tree-structure spatial human body model achieves state-of-the-art performance when augmented with the proper appearance representation; and (3) we show that the combination of the best performing appearance model with a flexible image-conditioned spatial model achieves the best result, significantly improving over the state of the art, on the "Leeds Sports Poses'' and "Parse'' benchmarks.

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Extracting Postural Synergies for Robotic Grasping

Romero, J., Feix, T., Ek, C., Kjellstrom, H., Kragic, D.

Robotics, IEEE Transactions on, 29(6):1342-1352, December 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Understanding High-Level Semantics by Modeling Traffic Patterns

Zhang, H., Geiger, A., Urtasun, R.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, pages: 3056-3063, Sydney, Australia, December 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we are interested in understanding the semantics of outdoor scenes in the context of autonomous driving. Towards this goal, we propose a generative model of 3D urban scenes which is able to reason not only about the geometry and objects present in the scene, but also about the high-level semantics in the form of traffic patterns. We found that a small number of patterns is sufficient to model the vast majority of traffic scenes and show how these patterns can be learned. As evidenced by our experiments, this high-level reasoning significantly improves the overall scene estimation as well as the vehicle-to-lane association when compared to state-of-the-art approaches. All data and code will be made available upon publication.

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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A Non-parametric Bayesian Network Prior of Human Pose

Lehrmann, A. M., Gehler, P., Nowozin, S.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 1281-1288, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision, December 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Having a sensible prior of human pose is a vital ingredient for many computer vision applications, including tracking and pose estimation. While the application of global non-parametric approaches and parametric models has led to some success, finding the right balance in terms of flexibility and tractability, as well as estimating model parameters from data has turned out to be challenging. In this work, we introduce a sparse Bayesian network model of human pose that is non-parametric with respect to the estimation of both its graph structure and its local distributions. We describe an efficient sampling scheme for our model and show its tractability for the computation of exact log-likelihoods. We empirically validate our approach on the Human 3.6M dataset and demonstrate superior performance to global models and parametric networks. We further illustrate our model's ability to represent and compose poses not present in the training set (compositionality) and describe a speed-accuracy trade-off that allows realtime scoring of poses.

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Project page pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

Project page pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Towards understanding action recognition

Jhuang, H., Gall, J., Zuffi, S., Schmid, C., Black, M. J.

In IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 3192-3199, IEEE, Sydney, Australia, December 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Although action recognition in videos is widely studied, current methods often fail on real-world datasets. Many recent approaches improve accuracy and robustness to cope with challenging video sequences, but it is often unclear what affects the results most. This paper attempts to provide insights based on a systematic performance evaluation using thoroughly-annotated data of human actions. We annotate human Joints for the HMDB dataset (J-HMDB). This annotation can be used to derive ground truth optical flow and segmentation. We evaluate current methods using this dataset and systematically replace the output of various algorithms with ground truth. This enables us to discover what is important – for example, should we work on improving flow algorithms, estimating human bounding boxes, or enabling pose estimation? In summary, we find that highlevel pose features greatly outperform low/mid level features; in particular, pose over time is critical, but current pose estimation algorithms are not yet reliable enough to provide this information. We also find that the accuracy of a top-performing action recognition framework can be greatly increased by refining the underlying low/mid level features; this suggests it is important to improve optical flow and human detection algorithms. Our analysis and JHMDB dataset should facilitate a deeper understanding of action recognition algorithms.

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Website Errata Poster Paper Slides DOI Project Page Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

Website Errata Poster Paper Slides DOI Project Page Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Probabilistic Object Tracking Using a Range Camera

Wüthrich, M., Pastor, P., Kalakrishnan, M., Bohg, J., Schaal, S.

In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 3195-3202, IEEE, November 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We address the problem of tracking the 6-DoF pose of an object while it is being manipulated by a human or a robot. We use a dynamic Bayesian network to perform inference and compute a posterior distribution over the current object pose. Depending on whether a robot or a human manipulates the object, we employ a process model with or without knowledge of control inputs. Observations are obtained from a range camera. As opposed to previous object tracking methods, we explicitly model self-occlusions and occlusions from the environment, e.g, the human or robotic hand. This leads to a strongly non-linear observation model and additional dependencies in the Bayesian network. We employ a Rao-Blackwellised particle filter to compute an estimate of the object pose at every time step. In a set of experiments, we demonstrate the ability of our method to accurately and robustly track the object pose in real-time while it is being manipulated by a human or a robot.

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arXiv Video Code Video DOI Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv Video Code Video DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Mixing Decoded Cursor Velocity and Position from an Offline Kalman Filter Improves Cursor Control in People with Tetraplegia

Homer, M., Harrison, M., Black, M. J., Perge, J., Cash, S., Friehs, G., Hochberg, L.

In 6th International IEEE EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering, pages: 715-718, San Diego, November 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Kalman filtering is a common method to decode neural signals from the motor cortex. In clinical research investigating the use of intracortical brain computer interfaces (iBCIs), the technique enabled people with tetraplegia to control assistive devices such as a computer or robotic arm directly from their neural activity. For reaching movements, the Kalman filter typically estimates the instantaneous endpoint velocity of the control device. Here, we analyzed attempted arm/hand movements by people with tetraplegia to control a cursor on a computer screen to reach several circular targets. A standard velocity Kalman filter is enhanced to additionally decode for the cursor’s position. We then mix decoded velocity and position to generate cursor movement commands. We analyzed data, offline, from two participants across six sessions. Root mean squared error between the actual and estimated cursor trajectory improved by 12.2 ±10.5% (pairwise t-test, p<0.05) as compared to a standard velocity Kalman filter. The findings suggest that simultaneously decoding for intended velocity and position and using them both to generate movement commands can improve the performance of iBCIs.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Markov Random Field Modeling, Inference & Learning in Computer Vision & Image Understanding: A Survey

Wang, C., Komodakis, N., Paragios, N.

Computer Vision and Image Understanding (CVIU), 117(11):1610-1627, November 2013 (article)

Abstract
In this paper, we present a comprehensive survey of Markov Random Fields (MRFs) in computer vision and image understanding, with respect to the modeling, the inference and the learning. While MRFs were introduced into the computer vision field about two decades ago, they started to become a ubiquitous tool for solving visual perception problems around the turn of the millennium following the emergence of efficient inference methods. During the past decade, a variety of MRF models as well as inference and learning methods have been developed for addressing numerous low, mid and high-level vision problems. While most of the literature concerns pairwise MRFs, in recent years we have also witnessed significant progress in higher-order MRFs, which substantially enhances the expressiveness of graph-based models and expands the domain of solvable problems. This survey provides a compact and informative summary of the major literature in this research topic.

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Publishers site pdf [BibTex]

Publishers site pdf [BibTex]


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3-D Object Reconstruction of Symmetric Objects by Fusing Visual and Tactile Sensing

Illonen, J., Bohg, J., Kyrki, V.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 33(2):321-341, Sage, October 2013 (article)

Abstract
In this work, we propose to reconstruct a complete 3-D model of an unknown object by fusion of visual and tactile information while the object is grasped. Assuming the object is symmetric, a first hypothesis of its complete 3-D shape is generated. A grasp is executed on the object with a robotic manipulator equipped with tactile sensors. Given the detected contacts between the fingers and the object, the initial full object model including the symmetry parameters can be refined. This refined model will then allow the planning of more complex manipulation tasks. The main contribution of this work is an optimal estimation approach for the fusion of visual and tactile data applying the constraint of object symmetry. The fusion is formulated as a state estimation problem and solved with an iterative extended Kalman filter. The approach is validated experimentally using both artificial and real data from two different robotic platforms.

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Web DOI Project Page [BibTex]

Web DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Vision meets Robotics: The KITTI Dataset

Geiger, A., Lenz, P., Stiller, C., Urtasun, R.

International Journal of Robotics Research, 32(11):1231 - 1237 , Sage Publishing, September 2013 (article)

Abstract
We present a novel dataset captured from a VW station wagon for use in mobile robotics and autonomous driving research. In total, we recorded 6 hours of traffic scenarios at 10-100 Hz using a variety of sensor modalities such as high-resolution color and grayscale stereo cameras, a Velodyne 3D laser scanner and a high-precision GPS/IMU inertial navigation system. The scenarios are diverse, capturing real-world traffic situations and range from freeways over rural areas to inner-city scenes with many static and dynamic objects. Our data is calibrated, synchronized and timestamped, and we provide the rectified and raw image sequences. Our dataset also contains object labels in the form of 3D tracklets and we provide online benchmarks for stereo, optical flow, object detection and other tasks. This paper describes our recording platform, the data format and the utilities that we provide.

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pdf DOI [BibTex]

pdf DOI [BibTex]


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Poselet conditioned pictorial structures

Pishchulin, L., Andriluka, M., Gehler, P., Schiele, B.

In IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, pages: 588 - 595, IEEE, Portland, OR, Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVRP), June 2013 (inproceedings)

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Occlusion Patterns for Object Class Detection

Pepik, B., Stark, M., Gehler, P., Schiele, B.

In IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, Portland, OR, June 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Despite the success of recent object class recognition systems, the long-standing problem of partial occlusion re- mains a major challenge, and a principled solution is yet to be found. In this paper we leave the beaten path of meth- ods that treat occlusion as just another source of noise – instead, we include the occluder itself into the modelling, by mining distinctive, reoccurring occlusion patterns from annotated training data. These patterns are then used as training data for dedicated detectors of varying sophistica- tion. In particular, we evaluate and compare models that range from standard object class detectors to hierarchical, part-based representations of occluder/occludee pairs. In an extensive evaluation we derive insights that can aid fur- ther developments in tackling the occlusion challenge.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Lost! Leveraging the Crowd for Probabilistic Visual Self-Localization

(CVPR13 Best Paper Runner-Up)

Brubaker, M. A., Geiger, A., Urtasun, R.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR 2013), pages: 3057-3064, IEEE, Portland, OR, June 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper we propose an affordable solution to self- localization, which utilizes visual odometry and road maps as the only inputs. To this end, we present a probabilis- tic model as well as an efficient approximate inference al- gorithm, which is able to utilize distributed computation to meet the real-time requirements of autonomous systems. Because of the probabilistic nature of the model we are able to cope with uncertainty due to noisy visual odometry and inherent ambiguities in the map ( e.g ., in a Manhattan world). By exploiting freely available, community devel- oped maps and visual odometry measurements, we are able to localize a vehicle up to 3m after only a few seconds of driving on maps which contain more than 2,150km of driv- able roads.

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pdf supplementary project page [BibTex]

pdf supplementary project page [BibTex]


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Human Pose Estimation using Body Parts Dependent Joint Regressors

Dantone, M., Gall, J., Leistner, C., van Gool, L.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 3041-3048, IEEE, Portland, OR, USA, June 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this work, we address the problem of estimating 2d human pose from still images. Recent methods that rely on discriminatively trained deformable parts organized in a tree model have shown to be very successful in solving this task. Within such a pictorial structure framework, we address the problem of obtaining good part templates by proposing novel, non-linear joint regressors. In particular, we employ two-layered random forests as joint regressors. The first layer acts as a discriminative, independent body part classifier. The second layer takes the estimated class distributions of the first one into account and is thereby able to predict joint locations by modeling the interdependence and co-occurrence of the parts. This results in a pose estimation framework that takes dependencies between body parts already for joint localization into account and is thus able to circumvent typical ambiguities of tree structures, such as for legs and arms. In the experiments, we demonstrate that our body parts dependent joint regressors achieve a higher joint localization accuracy than tree-based state-of-the-art methods.

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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A fully-connected layered model of foreground and background flow

Sun, D., Wulff, J., Sudderth, E., Pfister, H., Black, M.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, (CVPR 2013), pages: 2451-2458, Portland, OR, June 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Layered models allow scene segmentation and motion estimation to be formulated together and to inform one another. Traditional layered motion methods, however, employ fairly weak models of scene structure, relying on locally connected Ising/Potts models which have limited ability to capture long-range correlations in natural scenes. To address this, we formulate a fully-connected layered model that enables global reasoning about the complicated segmentations of real objects. Optimization with fully-connected graphical models is challenging, and our inference algorithm leverages recent work on efficient mean field updates for fully-connected conditional random fields. These methods can be implemented efficiently using high-dimensional Gaussian filtering. We combine these ideas with a layered flow model, and find that the long-range connections greatly improve segmentation into figure-ground layers when compared with locally connected MRF models. Experiments on several benchmark datasets show that the method can recover fine structures and large occlusion regions, with good flow accuracy and much lower computational cost than previous locally-connected layered models.

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pdf Supplemental Material Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Supplemental Material Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Hypothesis Testing Framework for Active Object Detection

Sankaran, B., Atanasov, N., Le Ny, J., Koletschka, T., Pappas, G., Daniilidis, K.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2013, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
One of the central problems in computer vision is the detection of semantically important objects and the estimation of their pose. Most of the work in object detection has been based on single image processing and its performance is limited by occlusions and ambiguity in appearance and geometry. This paper proposes an active approach to object detection by controlling the point of view of a mobile depth camera. When an initial static detection phase identifies an object of interest, several hypotheses are made about its class and orientation. The sensor then plans a sequence of view-points, which balances the amount of energy used to move with the chance of identifying the correct hypothesis. We formulate an active M-ary hypothesis testing problem, which includes sensor mobility, and solve it using a point-based approximate POMDP algorithm. The validity of our approach is verified through simulation and experiments with real scenes captured by a kinect sensor. The results suggest a significant improvement over static object detection.

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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Unscented Kalman Filtering on Riemannian Manifolds

Soren Hauberg, Francois Lauze, Kim S. Pedersen

Journal of Mathematical Imaging and Vision, 46(1):103-120, Springer Netherlands, May 2013 (article)

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Publishers site PDF [BibTex]

Publishers site PDF [BibTex]


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Quasi-Newton Methods: A New Direction

Hennig, P., Kiefel, M.

Journal of Machine Learning Research, 14(1):843-865, March 2013 (article)

Abstract
Four decades after their invention, quasi-Newton methods are still state of the art in unconstrained numerical optimization. Although not usually interpreted thus, these are learning algorithms that fit a local quadratic approximation to the objective function. We show that many, including the most popular, quasi-Newton methods can be interpreted as approximations of Bayesian linear regression under varying prior assumptions. This new notion elucidates some shortcomings of classical algorithms, and lights the way to a novel nonparametric quasi-Newton method, which is able to make more efficient use of available information at computational cost similar to its predecessors.

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website+code pdf link (url) [BibTex]

website+code pdf link (url) [BibTex]


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Action and Goal Related Decision Variables Modulate the Competition Between Multiple Potential Targets

Enachescu, V, Christopoulos, Vassilios N, Schrater, P. R., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2013), February 2013 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Optimal control of reaching includes kinematic constraints

Mistry, M., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S., Kawato, M.

Journal of Neurophysiology, 2013, clmc (article)

Abstract
We investigate adaptation under a reaching task with an acceleration-based force field perturbation designed to alter the nominal straight hand trajectory in a potentially benign manner:pushing the hand of course in one direction before subsequently restoring towards the target. In this particular task, an explicit strategy to reduce motor effort requires a distinct deviation from the nominal rectilinear hand trajectory. Rather, our results display a clear directional preference during learning, as subjects adapted perturbed curved trajectories towards their initial baselines. We model this behavior using the framework of stochastic optimal control theory and an objective function that trades-of the discordant requirements of 1) target accuracy, 2) motor effort, and 3) desired trajectory. Our work addresses the underlying objective of a reaching movement, and we suggest that robustness, particularly against internal model uncertainly, is as essential to the reaching task as terminal accuracy and energy effciency.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Estimating Human Pose with Flowing Puppets

Zuffi, S., Romero, J., Schmid, C., Black, M. J.

In IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 3312-3319, 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We address the problem of upper-body human pose estimation in uncontrolled monocular video sequences, without manual initialization. Most current methods focus on isolated video frames and often fail to correctly localize arms and hands. Inferring pose over a video sequence is advantageous because poses of people in adjacent frames exhibit properties of smooth variation due to the nature of human and camera motion. To exploit this, previous methods have used prior knowledge about distinctive actions or generic temporal priors combined with static image likelihoods to track people in motion. Here we take a different approach based on a simple observation: Information about how a person moves from frame to frame is present in the optical flow field. We develop an approach for tracking articulated motions that "links" articulated shape models of people in adjacent frames trough the dense optical flow. Key to this approach is a 2D shape model of the body that we use to compute how the body moves over time. The resulting "flowing puppets" provide a way of integrating image evidence across frames to improve pose inference. We apply our method on a challenging dataset of TV video sequences and show state-of-the-art performance.

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pdf code data DOI Project Page Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf code data DOI Project Page Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Fusing visual and tactile sensing for 3-D object reconstruction while grasping

Ilonen, J., Bohg, J., Kyrki, V.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 3547-3554, 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this work, we propose to reconstruct a complete 3-D model of an unknown object by fusion of visual and tactile information while the object is grasped. Assuming the object is symmetric, a first hypothesis of its complete 3-D shape is generated from a single view. This initial model is used to plan a grasp on the object which is then executed with a robotic manipulator equipped with tactile sensors. Given the detected contacts between the fingers and the object, the full object model including the symmetry parameters can be refined. This refined model will then allow the planning of more complex manipulation tasks. The main contribution of this work is an optimal estimation approach for the fusion of visual and tactile data applying the constraint of object symmetry. The fusion is formulated as a state estimation problem and solved with an iterative extended Kalman filter. The approach is validated experimentally using both artificial and real data from two different robotic platforms.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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A Comparison of Directional Distances for Hand Pose Estimation

Tzionas, D., Gall, J.

In German Conference on Pattern Recognition (GCPR), 8142, pages: 131-141, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, (Editors: Weickert, Joachim and Hein, Matthias and Schiele, Bernt), Springer, 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Benchmarking methods for 3d hand tracking is still an open problem due to the difficulty of acquiring ground truth data. We introduce a new dataset and benchmarking protocol that is insensitive to the accumulative error of other protocols. To this end, we create testing frame pairs of increasing difficulty and measure the pose estimation error separately for each of them. This approach gives new insights and allows to accurately study the performance of each feature or method without employing a full tracking pipeline. Following this protocol, we evaluate various directional distances in the context of silhouette-based 3d hand tracking, expressed as special cases of a generalized Chamfer distance form. An appropriate parameter setup is proposed for each of them, and a comparative study reveals the best performing method in this context.

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pdf Supplementary Project Page link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Supplementary Project Page link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Dynamical Movement Primitives: Learning Attractor Models for Motor Behaviors

Ijspeert, A., Nakanishi, J., Pastor, P., Hoffmann, H., Schaal, S.

Neural Computation, (25):328-373, 2013, clmc (article)

Abstract
Nonlinear dynamical systems have been used in many disciplines to model complex behaviors, including biological motor control, robotics, perception, economics, traffic prediction, and neuroscience. While often the unexpected emergent behavior of nonlinear systems is the focus of investigations, it is of equal importance to create goal-directed behavior (e.g., stable locomotion from a system of coupled oscillators under perceptual guidance). Modeling goal-directed behavior with nonlinear systems is, however, rather difficult due to the parameter sensitivity of these systems, their complex phase transitions in response to subtle parameter changes, and the difficulty of analyzing and predicting their long-term behavior; intuition and time-consuming parameter tuning play a major role. This letter presents and reviews dynamical movement primitives, a line of research for modeling attractor behaviors of autonomous nonlinear dynamical systems with the help of statistical learning techniques. The essence of our approach is to start with a simple dynamical system, such as a set of linear differential equations, and transform those into a weakly nonlinear system with prescribed attractor dynamics by meansof a learnable autonomous forcing term. Both point attractors and limit cycle attractors of almost arbitrary complexity can be generated. We explain the design principle of our approach and evaluate its properties in several example applications in motor control and robotics.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Learning Objective Functions for Manipulation

Kalakrishnan, M., Pastor, P., Righetti, L., Schaal, S.

In 2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, IEEE, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present an approach to learning objective functions for robotic manipulation based on inverse reinforcement learning. Our path integral inverse reinforcement learning algorithm can deal with high-dimensional continuous state-action spaces, and only requires local optimality of demonstrated trajectories. We use L 1 regularization in order to achieve feature selection, and propose an efficient algorithm to minimize the resulting convex objective function. We demonstrate our approach by applying it to two core problems in robotic manipulation. First, we learn a cost function for redundancy resolution in inverse kinematics. Second, we use our method to learn a cost function over trajectories, which is then used in optimization-based motion planning for grasping and manipulation tasks. Experimental results show that our method outperforms previous algorithms in high-dimensional settings.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Using Torque Redundancy to Optimize Contact Forces in Legged Robots

Righetti, L., Buchli, J., Mistry, M., Kalakrishnan, M., Schaal, S.

In Redundancy in Robot Manipulators and Multi-Robot Systems, 57, pages: 35-51, Lecture Notes in Electrical Engineering, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2013 (incollection)

Abstract
The development of legged robots for complex environments requires controllers that guarantee both high tracking performance and compliance with the environment. More specifically the control of contact interaction with the environment is of crucial importance to ensure stable, robust and safe motions. In the following, we present an inverse dynamics controller that exploits torque redundancy to directly and explicitly minimize any combination of linear and quadratic costs in the contact constraints and in the commands. Such a result is particularly relevant for legged robots as it allows to use torque redundancy to directly optimize contact interactions. For example, given a desired locomotion behavior, it can guarantee the minimization of contact forces to reduce slipping on difficult terrains while ensuring high tracking performance of the desired motion. The proposed controller is very simple and computationally efficient, and most importantly it can greatly improve the performance of legged locomotion on difficult terrains as can be seen in the experimental results.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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A Generic Deformation Model for Dense Non-Rigid Surface Registration: a Higher-Order MRF-based Approach

Zeng, Y., Wang, C., Gu, X., Samaras, D., Paragios, N.

In IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 3360~3367, 2013 (inproceedings)

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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Random Forests for Real Time 3D Face Analysis

Fanelli, G., Dantone, M., Gall, J., Fossati, A., van Gool, L.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 101(3):437-458, Springer, 2013 (article)

Abstract
We present a random forest-based framework for real time head pose estimation from depth images and extend it to localize a set of facial features in 3D. Our algorithm takes a voting approach, where each patch extracted from the depth image can directly cast a vote for the head pose or each of the facial features. Our system proves capable of handling large rotations, partial occlusions, and the noisy depth data acquired using commercial sensors. Moreover, the algorithm works on each frame independently and achieves real time performance without resorting to parallel computations on a GPU. We present extensive experiments on publicly available, challenging datasets and present a new annotated head pose database recorded using a Microsoft Kinect.

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data and code publisher's site pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

data and code publisher's site pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Markerless Motion Capture of Multiple Characters Using Multi-view Image Segmentation

Liu, Y., Gall, J., Stoll, C., Dai, Q., Seidel, H., Theobalt, C.

Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 35(11):2720-2735, 2013 (article)

Abstract
Capturing the skeleton motion and detailed time-varying surface geometry of multiple, closely interacting peoples is a very challenging task, even in a multicamera setup, due to frequent occlusions and ambiguities in feature-to-person assignments. To address this task, we propose a framework that exploits multiview image segmentation. To this end, a probabilistic shape and appearance model is employed to segment the input images and to assign each pixel uniquely to one person. Given the articulated template models of each person and the labeled pixels, a combined optimization scheme, which splits the skeleton pose optimization problem into a local one and a lower dimensional global one, is applied one by one to each individual, followed with surface estimation to capture detailed nonrigid deformations. We show on various sequences that our approach can capture the 3D motion of humans accurately even if they move rapidly, if they wear wide apparel, and if they are engaged in challenging multiperson motions, including dancing, wrestling, and hugging.

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data and video pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

data and video pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Viewpoint and pose in body-form adaptation

Sekunova, A., Black, M., Parkinson, L., Barton, J. J. S.

Perception, 42(2):176-186, 2013 (article)

Abstract
Faces and bodies are complex structures, perception of which can play important roles in person identification and inference of emotional state. Face representations have been explored using behavioural adaptation: in particular, studies have shown that face aftereffects show relatively broad tuning for viewpoint, consistent with origin in a high-level structural descriptor far removed from the retinal image. Our goals were to determine first, if body aftereffects also showed a degree of viewpoint invariance, and second if they also showed pose invariance, given that changes in pose create even more dramatic changes in the 2-D retinal image. We used a 3-D model of the human body to generate headless body images, whose parameters could be varied to generate different body forms, viewpoints, and poses. In the first experiment, subjects adapted to varying viewpoints of either slim or heavy bodies in a neutral stance, followed by test stimuli that were all front-facing. In the second experiment, we used the same front-facing bodies in neutral stance as test stimuli, but compared adaptation from bodies in the same neutral stance to adaptation with the same bodies in different poses. We found that body aftereffects were obtained over substantial viewpoint changes, with no significant decline in aftereffect magnitude with increasing viewpoint difference between adapting and test images. Aftereffects also showed transfer across one change in pose but not across another. We conclude that body representations may have more viewpoint invariance than faces, and demonstrate at least some transfer across pose, consistent with a high-level structural description. Keywords: aftereffect, shape, face, representation

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pdf from publisher abstract pdf link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

pdf from publisher abstract pdf link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Optimal distribution of contact forces with inverse-dynamics control

Righetti, L., Buchli, J., Mistry, M., Kalakrishnan, M., Schaal, S.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 32(3):280-298, March 2013 (article)

Abstract
The development of legged robots for complex environments requires controllers that guarantee both high tracking performance and compliance with the environment. More specifically the control of the contact interaction with the environment is of crucial importance to ensure stable, robust and safe motions. In this contribution we develop an inverse-dynamics controller for floating-base robots under contact constraints that can minimize any combination of linear and quadratic costs in the contact constraints and the commands. Our main result is the exact analytical derivation of the controller. Such a result is particularly relevant for legged robots as it allows us to use torque redundancy to directly optimize contact interactions. For example, given a desired locomotion behavior, we can guarantee the minimization of contact forces to reduce slipping on difficult terrains while ensuring high tracking performance of the desired motion. The main advantages of the controller are its simplicity, computational efficiency and robustness to model inaccuracies. We present detailed experimental results on simulated humanoid and quadruped robots as well as a real quadruped robot. The experiments demonstrate that the controller can greatly improve the robustness of locomotion of the robots.1

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Class-Specific Hough Forests for Object Detection

Gall, J., Lempitsky, V.

In Decision Forests for Computer Vision and Medical Image Analysis, pages: 143-157, 11, (Editors: Criminisi, A. and Shotton, J.), Springer, 2013 (incollection)

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code Project Page [BibTex]

code Project Page [BibTex]


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Learning Task Error Models for Manipulation

Pastor, P., Kalakrishnan, M., Binney, J., Kelly, J., Righetti, L., Sukhatme, G. S., Schaal, S.

In 2013 IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation, IEEE, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Precise kinematic forward models are important for robots to successfully perform dexterous grasping and manipulation tasks, especially when visual servoing is rendered infeasible due to occlusions. A lot of research has been conducted to estimate geometric and non-geometric parameters of kinematic chains to minimize reconstruction errors. However, kinematic chains can include non-linearities, e.g. due to cable stretch and motor-side encoders, that result in significantly different errors for different parts of the state space. Previous work either does not consider such non-linearities or proposes to estimate non-geometric parameters of carefully engineered models that are robot specific. We propose a data-driven approach that learns task error models that account for such unmodeled non-linearities. We argue that in the context of grasping and manipulation, it is sufficient to achieve high accuracy in the task relevant state space. We identify this relevant state space using previously executed joint configurations and learn error corrections for those. Therefore, our system is developed to generate subsequent executions that are similar to previous ones. The experiments show that our method successfully captures the non-linearities in the head kinematic chain (due to a counterbalancing spring) and the arm kinematic chains (due to cable stretch) of the considered experimental platform, see Fig. 1. The feasibility of the presented error learning approach has also been evaluated in independent DARPA ARM-S testing contributing to successfully complete 67 out of 72 grasping and manipulation tasks.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Non-parametric hand pose estimation with object context

Romero, J., Kjellström, H., Ek, C. H., Kragic, D.

Image and Vision Computing , 31(8):555 - 564, 2013 (article)

Abstract
In the spirit of recent work on contextual recognition and estimation, we present a method for estimating the pose of human hands, employing information about the shape of the object in the hand. Despite the fact that most applications of human hand tracking involve grasping and manipulation of objects, the majority of methods in the literature assume a free hand, isolated from the surrounding environment. Occlusion of the hand from grasped objects does in fact often pose a severe challenge to the estimation of hand pose. In the presented method, object occlusion is not only compensated for, it contributes to the pose estimation in a contextual fashion; this without an explicit model of object shape. Our hand tracking method is non-parametric, performing a nearest neighbor search in a large database (.. entries) of hand poses with and without grasped objects. The system that operates in real time, is robust to self occlusions, object occlusions and segmentation errors, and provides full hand pose reconstruction from monocular video. Temporal consistency in hand pose is taken into account, without explicitly tracking the hand in the high-dim pose space. Experiments show the non-parametric method to outperform other state of the art regression methods, while operating at a significantly lower computational cost than comparable model-based hand tracking methods.

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Publisher site pdf link (url) [BibTex]

Publisher site pdf link (url) [BibTex]

2005


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Composite adaptive control with locally weighted statistical learning

Nakanishi, J., Farrell, J. A., Schaal, S.

Neural Networks, 18(1):71-90, January 2005, clmc (article)

Abstract
This paper introduces a provably stable learning adaptive control framework with statistical learning. The proposed algorithm employs nonlinear function approximation with automatic growth of the learning network according to the nonlinearities and the working domain of the control system. The unknown function in the dynamical system is approximated by piecewise linear models using a nonparametric regression technique. Local models are allocated as necessary and their parameters are optimized on-line. Inspired by composite adaptive control methods, the proposed learning adaptive control algorithm uses both the tracking error and the estimation error to update the parameters. We first discuss statistical learning of nonlinear functions, and motivate our choice of the locally weighted learning framework. Second, we begin with a class of first order SISO systems for theoretical development of our learning adaptive control framework, and present a stability proof including a parameter projection method that is needed to avoid potential singularities during adaptation. Then, we generalize our adaptive controller to higher order SISO systems, and discuss further extension to MIMO problems. Finally, we evaluate our theoretical control framework in numerical simulations to illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed learning adaptive controller for rapid convergence and high accuracy of control.

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link (url) [BibTex]

2005


link (url) [BibTex]


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Natural Actor-Critic

Peters, J., Vijayakumar, S., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 16th European Conference on Machine Learning, 3720, pages: 280-291, (Editors: Gama, J.;Camacho, R.;Brazdil, P.;Jorge, A.;Torgo, L.), Springer, ECML, 2005, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper investigates a novel model-free reinforcement learning architecture, the Natural Actor-Critic. The actor updates are based on stochastic policy gradients employing AmariÕs natural gradient approach, while the critic obtains both the natural policy gradient and additional parameters of a value function simultaneously by linear regres- sion. We show that actor improvements with natural policy gradients are particularly appealing as these are independent of coordinate frame of the chosen policy representation, and can be estimated more efficiently than regular policy gradients. The critic makes use of a special basis function parameterization motivated by the policy-gradient compatible function approximation. We show that several well-known reinforcement learning methods such as the original Actor-Critic and BradtkeÕs Linear Quadratic Q-Learning are in fact Natural Actor-Critic algorithms. Em- pirical evaluations illustrate the effectiveness of our techniques in com- parison to previous methods, and also demonstrate their applicability for learning control on an anthropomorphic robot arm.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Comparative experiments on task space control with redundancy resolution

Nakanishi, J., Cory, R., Mistry, M., Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 2005 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 3901-3908, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Aug. 2-6, IROS, 2005, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Understanding the principles of motor coordination with redundant degrees of freedom still remains a challenging problem, particularly for new research in highly redundant robots like humanoids. Even after more than a decade of research, task space control with redundacy resolution still remains an incompletely understood theoretical topic, and also lacks a larger body of thorough experimental investigation on complex robotic systems. This paper presents our first steps towards the development of a working redundancy resolution algorithm which is robust against modeling errors and unforeseen disturbances arising from contact forces. To gain a better understanding of the pros and cons of different approaches to redundancy resolution, we focus on a comparative empirical evaluation. First, we review several redundancy resolution schemes at the velocity, acceleration and torque levels presented in the literature in a common notational framework and also introduce some new variants of these previous approaches. Second, we present experimental comparisons of these approaches on a seven-degree-of-freedom anthropomorphic robot arm. Surprisingly, one of our simplest algorithms empirically demonstrates the best performance, despite, from a theoretical point, the algorithm does not share the same beauty as some of the other methods. Finally, we discuss practical properties of these control algorithms, particularly in light of inevitable modeling errors of the robot dynamics.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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A model of smooth pursuit based on learning of the target dynamics using only retinal signals

Shibata, T., Tabata, H., Schaal, S., Kawato, M.

Neural Networks, 18, pages: 213-225, 2005, clmc (article)

Abstract
While the predictive nature of the primate smooth pursuit system has been evident through several behavioural and neurophysiological experiments, few models have attempted to explain these results comprehensively. The model we propose in this paper in line with previous models employing optimal control theory; however, we hypothesize two new issues: (1) the medical superior temporal (MST) area in the cerebral cortex implements a recurrent neural network (RNN) in order to predict the current or future target velocity, and (2) a forward model of the target motion is acquired by on-line learning. We use stimulation studies to demonstrate how our new model supports these hypotheses.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Predicting EMG Data from M1 Neurons with Variational Bayesian Least Squares

Ting, J., D’Souza, A., Yamamoto, K., Yoshioka, T., Hoffman, D., Kakei, S., Sergio, L., Kalaska, J., Kawato, M., Strick, P., Schaal, S.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 18 (NIPS 2005), (Editors: Weiss, Y.;Schölkopf, B.;Platt, J.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Vancouver, BC, Dec. 6-11, 2005, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
An increasing number of projects in neuroscience requires the statistical analysis of high dimensional data sets, as, for instance, in predicting behavior from neural firing, or in operating artificial devices from brain recordings in brain-machine interfaces. Linear analysis techniques remain prevalent in such cases, but classi-cal linear regression approaches are often numercially too fragile in high dimen-sions. In this paper, we address the question of whether EMG data collected from arm movements of monkeys can be faithfully reconstructed with linear ap-proaches from neural activity in primary motor cortex (M1). To achieve robust data analysis, we develop a full Bayesian approach to linear regression that automatically detects and excludes irrelevant features in the data, and regular-izes against overfitting. In comparison with ordinary least squares, stepwise re-gression, partial least squares, and a brute force combinatorial search for the most predictive input features in the data, we demonstrate that the new Bayesian method offers a superior mixture of characteristics in terms of regularization against overfitting, computational efficiency, and ease of use, demonstrating its potential as a drop-in replacement for other linear regression techniques. As neuroscientific results, our analyses demonstrate that EMG data can be well pre-dicted from M1 neurons, further opening the path for possible real-time inter-faces between brains and machines.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Rapbid synchronization and accurate phase-locking of rhythmic motor primitives

Pongas, D., Billard, A., Schaal, S.

In IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2005), pages: 2911-2916, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Aug. 2-6, 2005, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Rhythmic movement is ubiquitous in human and animal behavior, e.g., as in locomotion, dancing, swimming, chewing, scratching, music playing, etc. A particular feature of rhythmic movement in biology is the rapid synchronization and phase locking with other rhythmic events in the environment, for instance music or visual stimuli as in ball juggling. In traditional oscillator theories to rhythmic movement generation, synchronization with another signal is relatively slow, and it is not easy to achieve accurate phase locking with a particular feature of the driving stimulus. Using a recently developed framework of dynamic motor primitives, we demonstrate a novel algorithm for very rapid synchronizaton of a rhythmic movement pattern, which can phase lock any feature of the movement to any particulur event in the driving stimulus. As an example application, we demonstrate how an anthropomorphic robot can use imitation learning to acquire a complex rumming pattern and keep it synchronized with an external rhythm generator that changes its frequency over time.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Parametric and Non-Parametric approaches for nonlinear tracking of moving objects

Hidaka, Y, Theodorou, E.

Technical Report-2005-1, 2005, clmc (article)

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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A new methodology for robot control design

Peters, J., Mistry, M., Udwadia, F. E., Schaal, S.

In The 5th ASME International Conference on Multibody Systems, Nonlinear Dynamics, and Control (MSNDC 2005), Long Beach, CA, Sept. 24-28, 2005, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Gauss principle of least constraint and its generalizations have provided a useful insights for the development of tracking controllers for mechanical systems (Udwadia,2003). Using this concept, we present a novel methodology for the design of a specific class of robot controllers. With our new framework, we demonstrate that well-known and also several novel nonlinear robot control laws can be derived from this generic framework, and show experimental verifications on a Sarcos Master Arm robot for some of these controllers. We believe that the suggested approach unifies and simplifies the design of optimal nonlinear control laws for robots obeying rigid body dynamics equations, both with or without external constraints, holonomic or nonholonomic constraints, with over-actuation or underactuation, as well as open-chain and closed-chain kinematics.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Arm movement experiments with joint space force fields using an exoskeleton robot

Mistry, M., Mohajerian, P., Schaal, S.

In IEEE Ninth International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics, pages: 408-413, Chicago, Illinois, June 28-July 1, 2005, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
A new experimental platform permits us to study a novel variety of issues of human motor control, particularly full 3-D movements involving the major seven degrees-of-freedom (DOF) of the human arm. We incorporate a seven DOF robot exoskeleton, and can minimize weight and inertia through gravity, Coriolis, and inertia compensation, such that subjects' arm movements are largely unaffected by the manipulandum. Torque perturbations can be individually applied to any or all seven joints of the human arm, thus creating novel dynamic environments, or force fields, for subjects to respond and adapt to. Our first study investigates a joint space force field where the shoulder velocity drives a disturbing force in the elbow joint. Results demonstrate that subjects learn to compensate for the force field within about 100 trials, and from the strong presence of aftereffects when removing the field in some randomized catch trials, that an inverse dynamics, or internal model, of the force field is formed by the nervous system. Interestingly, while post-learning hand trajectories return to baseline, joint space trajectories remained changed in response to the field, indicating that besides learning a model of the force field, the nervous system also chose to exploit the space to minimize the effects of the force field on the realization of the endpoint trajectory plan. Further applications for our apparatus include studies in motor system redundancy resolution and inverse kinematics, as well as rehabilitation.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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A unifying framework for the control of robotics systems

Peters, J., Mistry, M., Udwadia, F. E., Cory, R., Nakanishi, J., Schaal, S.

In IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2005), pages: 1824-1831, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Aug. 2-6, 2005, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Recently, [1] suggested to derive tracking controllers for mechanical systems using a generalization of GaussÕ principle of least constraint. This method al-lows us to reformulate control problems as a special class of optimal control. We take this line of reasoning one step further and demonstrate that well-known and also several novel nonlinear robot control laws can be derived from this generic methodology. We show experimental verifications on a Sar-cos Master Arm robot for some of the the derived controllers.We believe that the suggested approach offers a promising unification and simplification of nonlinear control law design for robots obeying rigid body dynamics equa-tions, both with or without external constraints, with over-actuation or under-actuation, as well as open-chain and closed-chain kinematics.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]