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2016


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A New Perspective and Extension of the Gaussian Filter

Wüthrich, M., Trimpe, S., Garcia Cifuentes, C., Kappler, D., Schaal, S.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 35(14):1731-1749, December 2016 (article)

Abstract
The Gaussian Filter (GF) is one of the most widely used filtering algorithms; instances are the Extended Kalman Filter, the Unscented Kalman Filter and the Divided Difference Filter. The GF represents the belief of the current state by a Gaussian distribution, whose mean is an affine function of the measurement. We show that this representation can be too restrictive to accurately capture the dependences in systems with nonlinear observation models, and we investigate how the GF can be generalized to alleviate this problem. To this end, we view the GF as the solution to a constrained optimization problem. From this new perspective, the GF is seen as a special case of a much broader class of filters, obtained by relaxing the constraint on the form of the approximate posterior. On this basis, we outline some conditions which potential generalizations have to satisfy in order to maintain the computational efficiency of the GF. We propose one concrete generalization which corresponds to the standard GF using a pseudo measurement instead of the actual measurement. Extending an existing GF implementation in this manner is trivial. Nevertheless, we show that this small change can have a major impact on the estimation accuracy.

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2016


PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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An electro-active polymer based lens module for dynamically varying focal system

Yun, S., Park, S., Nam, S., Park, B., Park, S. K., Mun, S., Lim, J. M., Kyung, K.

Applied Physics Letters, 109(14):141908, October 2016 (article)

Abstract
We demonstrate a polymer-based active-lens module allowing a dynamic focus controllable optical system with a wide tunable range. The active-lens module is composed of parallelized two active- lenses with a convex and a concave shaped hemispherical lens structure, respectively. Under opera- tion with dynamic input voltage signals, each active-lens produces translational movement bi-directionally responding to a hybrid driving force that is a combination of an electro-active response of a thin dielectric elastomer membrane and an electro-static attraction force. Since the proposed active lens module widely modulates a gap-distance between lens-elements, an optical system based on the active-lens module provides widely-variable focusing for selective imaging of objects in arbitrary position.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Wrinkle structures formed by formulating UV-crosslinkable liquid prepolymers

Park, S. K., Kwark, Y., Nam, S., Park, S., Park, B., Yun, S., Moon, J., Lee, J., Yu, B., Kyung, K.

Polymer, 99, pages: 447-452, September 2016 (article)

Abstract
Artificial wrinkles have recently been in the spotlight due to their potential use in high-tech applications. A spontaneously wrinkled film can be fabricated from UV-crosslinkable liquid prepolymers. Here, we controlled the wrinkle formation by simply formulating two UV-crosslinkable liquid prepolymers, tetraethylene glycol bis(4-ethenyl-2,3,5,6-tetrafluorophenyl) ether (TEGDSt) and tetraethylene glycol diacrylate (TEGDA). The wrinkles were formed from the TEGDSt/TEGDA formulated prepolymer layers containing up to 30 wt% of TEGDA. The wrinkle formation depended upon the rate of photo-crosslinking reaction of the formulated prepolymers. The first order apparent rate constant, kapp, was between ca. 5.7 × 10−3 and 12.2 × 10−3 s−1 for the wrinkle formation. The wrinkle structures were modulated within the kapp mainly due to variation in the extent of shrinkage of the formulated prepolymer layers with the content of TEGDA

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Objective assessment of robotic surgical skill using instrument contact vibrations

Gomez, E. D., Aggarwal, R., McMahan, W., Bark, K., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Surgical Endoscopy, 30(4):1419-1431, 2016 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Cutaneous Feedback of Fingertip Deformation and Vibration for Palpation in Robotic Surgery

Pacchierotti, C., Prattichizzo, D., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 63(2):278-287, February 2016 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Structure modulated electrostatic deformable mirror for focus and geometry control

Nam, S., Park, S., Yun, S., Park, B., Park, S. K., Kyung, K.

Optics Express, 24(1):55-66, OSA, January 2016 (article)

Abstract
We suggest a way to electrostatically control deformed geometry of an electrostatic deformable mirror (EDM) based on geometric modulation of a basement. The EDM is composed of a metal coated elastomeric membrane (active mirror) and a polymeric basement with electrode (ground). When an electrical voltage is applied across the components, the active mirror deforms toward the stationary basement responding to electrostatic attraction force in an air gap. Since the differentiated gap distance can induce change in electrostatic force distribution between the active mirror and the basement, the EDMs are capable of controlling deformed geometry of the active mirror with different basement structures (concave, flat, and protrusive). The modulation of the deformed geometry leads to significant change in the range of the focal length of the EDMs. Even under dynamic operations, the EDM shows fairly consistent and large deformation enough to change focal length in a wide frequency range (1~175 Hz). The geometric modulation of the active mirror with dynamic focus tunability can allow the EDM to be an active mirror lens for optical zoom devices as well as an optical component controlling field of view.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Probabilistic Inference for Determining Options in Reinforcement Learning

Daniel, C., van Hoof, H., Peters, J., Neumann, G.

Machine Learning, Special Issue, 104(2):337-357, (Editors: Gärtner, T., Nanni, M., Passerini, A. and Robardet, C.), European Conference on Machine Learning im Machine Learning, Journal Track, 2016, Best Student Paper Award of ECML-PKDD 2016 (article)

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Probabilistic Duality for Parallel Gibbs Sampling without Graph Coloring

Mescheder, L., Nowozin, S., Geiger, A.

Arxiv, 2016 (article)

Abstract
We present a new notion of probabilistic duality for random variables involving mixture distributions. Using this notion, we show how to implement a highly-parallelizable Gibbs sampler for weakly coupled discrete pairwise graphical models with strictly positive factors that requires almost no preprocessing and is easy to implement. Moreover, we show how our method can be combined with blocking to improve mixing. Even though our method leads to inferior mixing times compared to a sequential Gibbs sampler, we argue that our method is still very useful for large dynamic networks, where factors are added and removed on a continuous basis, as it is hard to maintain a graph coloring in this setup. Similarly, our method is useful for parallelizing Gibbs sampling in graphical models that do not allow for graph colorings with a small number of colors such as densely connected graphs.

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pdf [BibTex]


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Peripheral vs. central determinants of vibrotactile adaptation

Klöcker, A., Gueorguiev, D., Thonnard, J. L., Mouraux, A.

Journal of Neurophysiology, 115(2):685-691, 2016, PMID: 26581868 (article)

Abstract
Long-lasting mechanical vibrations applied to the skin induce a reversible decrease in the perception of vibration at the stimulated skin site. This phenomenon of vibrotactile adaptation has been studied extensively, yet there is still no clear consensus on the mechanisms leading to vibrotactile adaptation. In particular, the respective contributions of 1) changes affecting mechanical skin impedance, 2) peripheral processes, and 3) central processes are largely unknown. Here we used direct electrical stimulation of nerve fibers to bypass mechanical transduction processes and thereby explore the possible contribution of central vs. peripheral processes to vibrotactile adaptation. Three experiments were conducted. In the first, adaptation was induced with mechanical vibration of the fingertip (51- or 251-Hz vibration delivered for 8 min, at 40× detection threshold). In the second, we attempted to induce adaptation with transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the median nerve (51- or 251-Hz constant-current pulses delivered for 8 min, at 1.5× detection threshold). Vibrotactile detection thresholds were measured before and after adaptation. Mechanical stimulation induced a clear increase of vibrotactile detection thresholds. In contrast, thresholds were unaffected by electrical stimulation. In the third experiment, we assessed the effect of mechanical adaptation on the detection thresholds to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimuli, measured before and after adaptation. Electrical detection thresholds were unaffected by the mechanical adaptation. Taken together, our results suggest that vibrotactile adaptation is predominantly the consequence of peripheral mechanoreceptor processes and/or changes in biomechanical properties of the skin.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Silent Expectations: Dynamic Causal Modeling of Cortical Prediction and Attention to Sounds That Weren’t

Chennu, S., Noreika, V., Gueorguiev, D., Shtyrov, Y., Bekinschtein, T. A., Henson, R.

Journal of Neuroscience, 36(32):8305-8316, Society for Neuroscience, 2016 (article)

Abstract
There is increasing evidence that human perception is realized by a hierarchy of neural processes in which predictions sent backward from higher levels result in prediction errors that are fed forward from lower levels, to update the current model of the environment. Moreover, the precision of prediction errors is thought to be modulated by attention. Much of this evidence comes from paradigms in which a stimulus differs from that predicted by the recent history of other stimuli (generating a so-called {\textquotedblleft}mismatch response{\textquotedblright}). There is less evidence from situations where a prediction is not fulfilled by any sensory input (an {\textquotedblleft}omission{\textquotedblright} response). This situation arguably provides a more direct measure of {\textquotedblleft}top-down{\textquotedblright} predictions in the absence of confounding {\textquotedblleft}bottom-up{\textquotedblright} input. We applied Dynamic Causal Modeling of evoked electromagnetic responses recorded by EEG and MEG to an auditory paradigm in which we factorially crossed the presence versus absence of {\textquotedblleft}bottom-up{\textquotedblright} stimuli with the presence versus absence of {\textquotedblleft}top-down{\textquotedblright} attention. Model comparison revealed that both mismatch and omission responses were mediated by increased forward and backward connections, differing primarily in the driving input. In both responses, modeling results suggested that the presence of attention selectively modulated backward {\textquotedblleft}prediction{\textquotedblright} connections. Our results provide new model-driven evidence of the pure top-down prediction signal posited in theories of hierarchical perception, and highlight the role of attentional precision in strengthening this prediction.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Human auditory perception is thought to be realized by a network of neurons that maintain a model of and predict future stimuli. Much of the evidence for this comes from experiments where a stimulus unexpectedly differs from previous ones, which generates a well-known {\textquotedblleft}mismatch response.{\textquotedblright} But what happens when a stimulus is unexpectedly omitted altogether? By measuring the brain{\textquoteright}s electromagnetic activity, we show that it also generates an {\textquotedblleft}omission response{\textquotedblright} that is contingent on the presence of attention. We model these responses computationally, revealing that mismatch and omission responses only differ in the location of inputs into the same underlying neuronal network. In both cases, we show that attention selectively strengthens the brain{\textquoteright}s prediction of the future.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Event-based Sampling for Reducing Communication Load in Realtime Human Motion Analysis by Wireless Inertial Sensor Networks

Laidig, D., Trimpe, S., Seel, T.

Current Directions in Biomedical Engineering, 2(1):711-714, De Gruyter, 2016 (article)

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PDF DOI [BibTex]

PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Touch uses frictional cues to discriminate flat materials

Gueorguiev, D., Bochereau, S., Mouraux, A., Hayward, V., Thonnard, J.

Scientific reports, 6, pages: 25553, Nature Publishing Group, 2016 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Map-Based Probabilistic Visual Self-Localization

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

IEEE Trans. on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (PAMI), 2016 (article)

Abstract
Accurate and efficient self-localization is a critical problem for autonomous systems. This paper describes an affordable solution to vehicle self-localization which uses odometry computed from two video cameras and road maps as the sole inputs. The core of the method is a probabilistic model for which an efficient approximate inference algorithm is derived. The inference algorithm is able to utilize distributed computation in order to meet the real-time requirements of autonomous systems in some instances. Because of the probabilistic nature of the model the method is capable of coping with various sources of uncertainty including noise in the visual odometry and inherent ambiguities in the map (e.g., in a Manhattan world). By exploiting freely available, community developed maps and visual odometry measurements, the proposed method is able to localize a vehicle to 4m on average after 52 seconds of driving on maps which contain more than 2,150km of drivable roads.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Momentum Control with Hierarchical Inverse Dynamics on a Torque-Controlled Humanoid

Herzog, A., Rotella, N., Mason, S., Grimminger, F., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

Autonomous Robots, 40(3):473-491, 2016 (article)

Abstract
Hierarchical inverse dynamics based on cascades of quadratic programs have been proposed for the control of legged robots. They have important benefits but to the best of our knowledge have never been implemented on a torque controlled humanoid where model inaccuracies, sensor noise and real-time computation requirements can be problematic. Using a reformulation of existing algorithms, we propose a simplification of the problem that allows to achieve real-time control. Momentum-based control is integrated in the task hierarchy and a LQR design approach is used to compute the desired associated closed-loop behavior and improve performance. Extensive experiments on various balancing and tracking tasks show very robust performance in the face of unknown disturbances, even when the humanoid is standing on one foot. Our results demonstrate that hierarchical inverse dynamics together with momentum control can be efficiently used for feedback control under real robot conditions.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Bioinspired Motor Control for Articulated Robots [From the Guest Editors]

Vitiello, Nicola, Ijspeert, Auke J, Schaal, S.

IEEE Robotics {\&} Automation Magazine, 23(1):20-21, 2016 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]

2013


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A Practical System For Recording Instrument Interactions During Live Robotic Surgery

McMahan, W., Gomez, E. D., Chen, L., Bark, K., Nappo, J. C., Koch, E. I., Lee, D. I., Dumon, K., Williams, N., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Journal of Robotic Surgery, 7(4):351-358, 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

2013


[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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Vibrotactile Display: Perception, Technology, and Applications

Choi, S., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Proceedings of the IEEE, 101(9):2093-2104, sep 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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ROS Open-source Audio Recognizer: ROAR Environmental Sound Detection Tools for Robot Programming

Romano, J. M., Brindza, J. P., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Autonomous Robots, 34(3):207-215, April 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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In Vivo Validation of a System for Haptic Feedback of Tool Vibrations in Robotic Surgery

Bark, K., McMahan, W., Remington, A., Gewirtz, J., Wedmid, A., Lee, D. I., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Surgical Endoscopy, 27(2):656-664, February 2013, dynamic article (paper plus video), available at \href{http://www.springerlink.com/content/417j532708417342/}{http://www.springerlink.com/content/417j532708417342/} (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Perception of Springs with Visual and Proprioceptive Motion Cues: Implications for Prosthetics

Gurari, N., Kuchenbecker, K. J., Okamura, A. M.

IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, 43, pages: 102-114, January 2013, \href{http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBRw87Wk29E\&feature=youtu.be}{Video} (article)

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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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Expectation and Attention in Hierarchical Auditory Prediction

Chennu, S., Noreika, V., Gueorguiev, D., Blenkmann, A., Kochen, S., Ibáñez, A., Owen, A. M., Bekinschtein, T. A.

Journal of Neuroscience, 33(27):11194-11205, Society for Neuroscience, 2013 (article)

Abstract
Hierarchical predictive coding suggests that attention in humans emerges from increased precision in probabilistic inference, whereas expectation biases attention in favor of contextually anticipated stimuli. We test these notions within auditory perception by independently manipulating top-down expectation and attentional precision alongside bottom-up stimulus predictability. Our findings support an integrative interpretation of commonly observed electrophysiological signatures of neurodynamics, namely mismatch negativity (MMN), P300, and contingent negative variation (CNV), as manifestations along successive levels of predictive complexity. Early first-level processing indexed by the MMN was sensitive to stimulus predictability: here, attentional precision enhanced early responses, but explicit top-down expectation diminished it. This pattern was in contrast to later, second-level processing indexed by the P300: although sensitive to the degree of predictability, responses at this level were contingent on attentional engagement and in fact sharpened by top-down expectation. At the highest level, the drift of the CNV was a fine-grained marker of top-down expectation itself. Source reconstruction of high-density EEG, supported by intracranial recordings, implicated temporal and frontal regions differentially active at early and late levels. The cortical generators of the CNV suggested that it might be involved in facilitating the consolidation of context-salient stimuli into conscious perception. These results provide convergent empirical support to promising recent accounts of attention and expectation in predictive coding.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [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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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]

2007


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The new robotics - towards human-centered machines

Schaal, S.

HFSP Journal Frontiers of Interdisciplinary Research in the Life Sciences, 1(2):115-126, 2007, clmc (article)

Abstract
Research in robotics has moved away from its primary focus on industrial applications. The New Robotics is a vision that has been developed in past years by our own university and many other national and international research instiutions and addresses how increasingly more human-like robots can live among us and take over tasks where our current society has shortcomings. Elder care, physical therapy, child education, search and rescue, and general assistance in daily life situations are some of the examples that will benefit from the New Robotics in the near future. With these goals in mind, research for the New Robotics has to embrace a broad interdisciplinary approach, ranging from traditional mathematical issues of robotics to novel issues in psychology, neuroscience, and ethics. This paper outlines some of the important research problems that will need to be resolved to make the New Robotics a reality.

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link (url) [BibTex]

2007


link (url) [BibTex]