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2013


Branch\&Rank for Efficient Object Detection
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]


Extracting Postural Synergies for Robotic Grasping
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]


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


3-D Object Reconstruction of Symmetric Objects by Fusing Visual and Tactile Sensing
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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Multi-robot cooperative spherical-object tracking in 3D space based on particle filters

Ahmad, A., Lima, P.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 61(10):1084-1093, October 2013 (article)

Abstract
This article presents a cooperative approach for tracking a moving spherical object in 3D space by a team of mobile robots equipped with sensors, in a highly dynamic environment. The tracker’s core is a particle filter, modified to handle, within a single unified framework, the problem of complete or partial occlusion for some of the involved mobile sensors, as well as inconsistent estimates in the global frame among sensors, due to observation errors and/or self-localization uncertainty. We present results supporting our approach by applying it to a team of real soccer robots tracking a soccer ball, including comparison with ground truth.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Puppet Flow
Puppet Flow

Zuffi, S., Black, M. J.

(7), Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, October 2013 (techreport)

Abstract
We introduce Puppet Flow (PF), a layered model describing the optical flow of a person in a video sequence. We consider video frames composed by two layers: a foreground layer corresponding to a person, and background. We model the background as an affine flow field. The foreground layer, being a moving person, requires reasoning about the articulated nature of the human body. We thus represent the foreground layer with the Deformable Structures model (DS), a parametrized 2D part-based human body representation. We call the motion field defined through articulated motion and deformation of the DS model, a Puppet Flow. By exploiting the DS representation, Puppet Flow is a parametrized optical flow field, where parameters are the person's pose, gender and body shape.

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pdf Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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D2.1.4 RoCKIn@Work - Innovation in Mobile Industrial Manipulation Competition Design, Rule Book, and Scenario Construction

Ahmad, A., Awaad, I., Amigoni, F., Berghofer, J., Bischoff, R., Bonarini, A., Dwiputra, R., Hegger, F., Hochgeschwender, N., Iocchi, L., Kraetzschmar, G., Lima, P., Matteucci, M., Nardi, D., Schneider, S.

(FP7-ICT-601012 Revision 0.7), RoCKIn - Robot Competitions Kick Innovation in Cognitive Systems and Robotics, sep 2013 (techreport)

Abstract
RoCKIn is a EU-funded project aiming to foster scientific progress and innovation in cognitive systems and robotics through the design and implementation of competitions. An additional objective of RoCKIn is to increase public awareness of the current state-of-the-art in robotics in Europe and to demonstrate the innovation potential of robotics applications for solving societal challenges and improving the competitiveness of Europe in the global markets. In order to achieve these objectives, RoCKIn develops two competitions, one for domestic service robots (RoCKIn@Home) and one for industrial robots in factories (RoCKIn-@Work). These competitions are designed around challenges that are based on easy-to-communicate and convincing user stories, which catch the interest of both the general public and the scientifc community. The latter is in particular interested in solving open scientific challenges and to thoroughly assess, compare, and evaluate the developed approaches with competing ones. To allow this to happen, the competitions are designed to meet the requirements of benchmarking procedures and good experimental methods. The integration of benchmarking technology with the competition concept is one of the main objectives of RoCKIn. This document describes the first version of the RoCKIn@Work competition, which will be held for the first time in 2014. The first chapter of the document gives a brief overview, outlining the purpose and objective of the competition, the methodological approach taken by the RoCKIn project, the user story upon which the competition is based, the structure and organization of the competition, and the commonalities and differences with the RoboCup@Work competition, which served as inspiration for RoCKIn@Work. The second chapter provides details on the user story and analyzes the scientific and technical challenges it poses. Consecutive chapters detail the competition scenario, the competition design, and the organization of the competition. The appendices contain information on a library of functionalities, which we believe are needed, or at least useful, for building competition entries, details on the scenario construction, and a detailed account of the benchmarking infrastructure needed — and provided by RoCKIn.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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D2.1.1 RoCKIn@Home - A Competition for Domestic Service Robots Competition Design, Rule Book, and Scenario Construction

Ahmad, A., Awaad, I., Amigoni, F., Berghofer, J., Bischoff, R., Bonarini, A., Dwiputra, R., Hegger, F., Hochgeschwender, N., Iocchi, L., Kraetzschmar, G., Lima, P., Matteucci, M., Nardi, D., Schneider, S.

(FP7-ICT-601012 Revision 0.7), RoCKIn - Robot Competitions Kick Innovation in Cognitive Systems and Robotics, sep 2013 (techreport)

Abstract
RoCKIn is a EU-funded project aiming to foster scientific progress and innovation in cognitive systems and robotics through the design and implementation of competitions. An additional objective of RoCKIn is to increase public awareness of the current state-of-the-art in robotics in Europe and to demonstrate the innovation potential of robotics applications for solving societal challenges and improving the competitiveness of Europe in the global markets. In order to achieve these objectives, RoCKIn develops two competitions, one for domestic service robots (RoCKIn@Home) and one for industrial robots in factories (RoCKIn-@Work). These competitions are designed around challenges that are based on easy-to-communicate and convincing user stories, which catch the interest of both the general public and the scientifc community. The latter is in particular interested in solving open scientific challenges and to thoroughly assess, compare, and evaluate the developed approaches with competing ones. To allow this to happen, the competitions are designed to meet the requirements of benchmarking procedures and good experimental methods. The integration of benchmarking technology with the competition concept is one of the main objectives of RoCKIn. This document describes the first version of the RoCKIn@Home competition, which will be held for the first time in 2014. The first chapter of the document gives a brief overview, outlining the purpose and objective of the competition, the methodological approach taken by the RoCKIn project, the user story upon which the competition is based, the structure and organization of the competition, and the commonalities and differences with the RoboCup@Home competition, which served as inspiration for RoCKIn@Home. The second chapter provides details on the user story and analyzes the scientific and technical challenges it poses. Consecutive chapters detail the competition scenario, the competition design, and the organization of the competition. The appendices contain information on a library of functionalities, which we believe are needed, or at least useful, for building competition entries, details on the scenario construction, and a detailed account of the benchmarking infrastructure needed — and provided by RoCKIn.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Vision meets Robotics: The {KITTI} Dataset
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]


Human Pose Calculation from Optical Flow Data
Human Pose Calculation from Optical Flow Data

Black, M., Loper, M., Romero, J., Zuffi, S.

European Patent Application EP 2843621 , August 2013 (patent)

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Google Patents [BibTex]

Google Patents [BibTex]


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D1.1 Specification of General Features of Scenarios and Robots for Benchmarking Through Competitions

Ahmad, A., Awaad, I., Amigoni, F., Berghofer, J., Bischoff, R., Bonarini, A., Dwiputra, R., Fontana, G., Hegger, F., Hochgeschwender, N., Iocchi, L., Kraetzschmar, G., Lima, P., Matteucci, M., Nardi, D., Schiaffonati, V., Schneider, S.

(FP7-ICT-601012 Revision 1.0), RoCKIn - Robot Competitions Kick Innovation in Cognitive Systems and Robotics, July 2013 (techreport)

Abstract
RoCKIn is a EU-funded project aiming to foster scientific progress and innovation in cognitive systems and robotics through the design and implementation of competitions. An additional objective of RoCKIn is to increase public awareness of the current state-of-the-art in robotics and the innovation potential of robotics applications. From these objectives several requirements for the work performed in RoCKIn can be derived: The RoCKIn competitions must start from convincing, easy-to-communicate user stories, that catch the attention of relevant stakeholders, the media, and the crowd. The user stories play the role of a mid- to long-term vision for a competition. Preferably, the user stories address economic, societal, or environmental problems. The RoCKIn competitions must pose open scientific challenges of interest to sufficiently many researchers to attract existing and new teams of robotics researchers for participation in the competition. The competitions need to promise some suitable reward, such as recognition in the scientific community, publicity for a team’s work, awards, or prize money, to justify the effort a team puts into the development of a competition entry. The competitions should be designed in such a way that they reward general, scientifically sound solutions to the challenge problems; such general solutions should score better than approaches that work only in narrowly defined contexts and are considred over-engineered. The challenges motivating the RoCKIn competitions must be broken down into suitable intermediate goals that can be reached with a limited team effort until the next competition and the project duration. The RoCKIn competitions must be well-defined and well-designed, with comprehensive rule books and instructions for the participants in order to guarantee a fair competition. The RoCKIn competitions must integrate competitions with benchmarking in order to provide comprehensive feedback for the teams about the suitability of particular functional modules, their overall architecture, and system integration. This document takes the first steps towards the RoCKIn goals. After outlining our approach, we present several user stories for further discussion within the community. The main objectives of this document are to identify and document relevant scenario features and the tasks and functionalities subject for benchmarking in the competitions.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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SocRob-MSL 2013 Team Description Paper for Middle Sized League

Messias, J., Ahmad, A., Reis, J., Serafim, M., Lima, P.

17th Annual RoboCup International Symposium 2013, July 2013 (techreport)

Abstract
This paper describes the status of the SocRob MSL robotic soccer team as required by the RoboCup 2013 qualification procedures. The team’s latest scientific and technical developments, since its last participation in RoboCup MSL, include further advances in cooperative perception; novel communication methods for distributed robotics; progressive deployment of the ROS middleware; improved localization through feature tracking and Mixture MCL; novel planning methods based on Petri nets and decision-theoretic frameworks; and hardware developments in ball-handling/kicking devices.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


Visualizing dimensionality reduction of systems biology data
Visualizing dimensionality reduction of systems biology data

Lehrmann, A. M., Huber, M., Polatkan, A. C., Pritzkau, A., Nieselt, K.

Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery, 1(27):146-165, Springer, July 2013 (article)

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pdf SpRay [BibTex]

pdf SpRay [BibTex]


Learning and Optimization with Submodular Functions
Learning and Optimization with Submodular Functions

Sankaran, B., Ghazvininejad, M., He, X., Kale, D., Cohen, L.

ArXiv, May 2013 (techreport)

Abstract
In many naturally occurring optimization problems one needs to ensure that the definition of the optimization problem lends itself to solutions that are tractable to compute. In cases where exact solutions cannot be computed tractably, it is beneficial to have strong guarantees on the tractable approximate solutions. In order operate under these criterion most optimization problems are cast under the umbrella of convexity or submodularity. In this report we will study design and optimization over a common class of functions called submodular functions. Set functions, and specifically submodular set functions, characterize a wide variety of naturally occurring optimization problems, and the property of submodularity of set functions has deep theoretical consequences with wide ranging applications. Informally, the property of submodularity of set functions concerns the intuitive principle of diminishing returns. This property states that adding an element to a smaller set has more value than adding it to a larger set. Common examples of submodular monotone functions are entropies, concave functions of cardinality, and matroid rank functions; non-monotone examples include graph cuts, network flows, and mutual information. In this paper we will review the formal definition of submodularity; the optimization of submodular functions, both maximization and minimization; and finally discuss some applications in relation to learning and reasoning using submodular functions.

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arxiv link (url) [BibTex]

arxiv link (url) [BibTex]


Unscented Kalman Filtering on Riemannian Manifolds
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]


System and method for generating bilinear spatiotemporal basis models
System and method for generating bilinear spatiotemporal basis models

Matthews, I. A. I. S. T. S. K. S. Y.

US Patent Application 13/425,369, March 2013 (patent)

Abstract
Techniques are disclosed for generating a bilinear spatiotemporal basis model. A method includes the steps of predefining a trajectory basis for the bilinear spatiotemporal basis model, receiving three-dimensional spatiotemporal data for a training sequence, estimating a shape basis for the bilinear spatiotemporal basis model using the three-dimensional spatiotemporal data, and computing coefficients for the bilinear spatiotemporal basis model using the trajectory basis and the shape basis.

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Google Patents [BibTex]


Quasi-Newton Methods: A New Direction
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]


A Quantitative Analysis of Current Practices in Optical Flow Estimation and the Principles Behind Them
A Quantitative Analysis of Current Practices in Optical Flow Estimation and the Principles Behind Them

Sun, D., Roth, S., Black, M. J.

(CS-10-03), Brown University, Department of Computer Science, January 2013 (techreport)

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [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]


Simultaneous Cast Shadows, Illumination and Geometry Inference Using   Hypergraphs
Simultaneous Cast Shadows, Illumination and Geometry Inference Using Hypergraphs

Panagopoulos, A., Wang, C., Samaras, D., Paragios, N.

IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (TPAMI), 35(2):437-449, 2013 (article)

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [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]


Random Forests for Real Time {3D} Face Analysis
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]


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


Viewpoint and pose in body-form adaptation
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]


Non-parametric hand pose estimation with object context
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]

2010


Decoding complete reach and grasp actions from local primary motor cortex populations
Decoding complete reach and grasp actions from local primary motor cortex populations

(Featured in Nature’s Research Highlights (Nature, Vol 466, 29 July 2010))

Vargas-Irwin, C. E., Shakhnarovich, G., Yadollahpour, P., Mislow, J., Black, M. J., Donoghue, J. P.

J. of Neuroscience, 39(29):9659-9669, July 2010 (article)

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pdf pdf from publisher Movie 1 Movie 2 Project Page [BibTex]

2010


pdf pdf from publisher Movie 1 Movie 2 Project Page [BibTex]


Learning Grasping Points with Shape Context
Learning Grasping Points with Shape Context

Bohg, J., Kragic, D.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 58(4):362-377, North-Holland Publishing Co., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, The Netherlands, April 2010 (article)

Abstract
This paper presents work on vision based robotic grasping. The proposed method adopts a learning framework where prototypical grasping points are learnt from several examples and then used on novel objects. For representation purposes, we apply the concept of shape context and for learning we use a supervised learning approach in which the classifier is trained with labelled synthetic images. We evaluate and compare the performance of linear and non-linear classifiers. Our results show that a combination of a descriptor based on shape context with a non-linear classification algorithm leads to a stable detection of grasping points for a variety of objects.

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pdf link (url) DOI [BibTex]

pdf link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Guest editorial: State of the art in image- and video-based human pose and motion estimation
Guest editorial: State of the art in image- and video-based human pose and motion estimation

Sigal, L., Black, M. J.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 87(1):1-3, March 2010 (article)

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pdf from publisher [BibTex]

pdf from publisher [BibTex]


{HumanEva}: Synchronized video and motion capture dataset and baseline algorithm for evaluation of articulated human motion
HumanEva: Synchronized video and motion capture dataset and baseline algorithm for evaluation of articulated human motion

Sigal, L., Balan, A., Black, M. J.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 87(1):4-27, Springer Netherlands, March 2010 (article)

Abstract
While research on articulated human motion and pose estimation has progressed rapidly in the last few years, there has been no systematic quantitative evaluation of competing methods to establish the current state of the art. We present data obtained using a hardware system that is able to capture synchronized video and ground-truth 3D motion. The resulting HumanEva datasets contain multiple subjects performing a set of predefined actions with a number of repetitions. On the order of 40,000 frames of synchronized motion capture and multi-view video (resulting in over one quarter million image frames in total) were collected at 60 Hz with an additional 37,000 time instants of pure motion capture data. A standard set of error measures is defined for evaluating both 2D and 3D pose estimation and tracking algorithms. We also describe a baseline algorithm for 3D articulated tracking that uses a relatively standard Bayesian framework with optimization in the form of Sequential Importance Resampling and Annealed Particle Filtering. In the context of this baseline algorithm we explore a variety of likelihood functions, prior models of human motion and the effects of algorithm parameters. Our experiments suggest that image observation models and motion priors play important roles in performance, and that in a multi-view laboratory environment, where initialization is available, Bayesian filtering tends to perform well. The datasets and the software are made available to the research community. This infrastructure will support the development of new articulated motion and pose estimation algorithms, will provide a baseline for the evaluation and comparison of new methods, and will help establish the current state of the art in human pose estimation and tracking.

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pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]


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Policy learning algorithmis for motor learning (Algorithmen zum automatischen Erlernen von Motorfähigkigkeiten)

Peters, J., Kober, J., Schaal, S.

Automatisierungstechnik, 58(12):688-694, 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
Robot learning methods which allow au- tonomous robots to adapt to novel situations have been a long standing vision of robotics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive sciences. However, to date, learning techniques have yet to ful- fill this promise as only few methods manage to scale into the high-dimensional domains of manipulator robotics, or even the new upcoming trend of humanoid robotics. If possible, scaling was usually only achieved in precisely pre-structured domains. In this paper, we investigate the ingredients for a general ap- proach policy learning with the goal of an application to motor skill refinement in order to get one step closer towards human- like performance. For doing so, we study two major components for such an approach, i. e., firstly, we study policy learning algo- rithms which can be applied in the general setting of motor skill learning, and, secondly, we study a theoretically well-founded general approach to representing the required control structu- res for task representation and execution.

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link (url) [BibTex]


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A Bayesian approach to nonlinear parameter identification for rigid-body dynamics

Ting, J., DSouza, A., Schaal, S.

Neural Networks, 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
For complex robots such as humanoids, model-based control is highly beneficial for accurate tracking while keeping negative feedback gains low for compliance. However, in such multi degree-of-freedom lightweight systems, conventional identification of rigid body dynamics models using CAD data and actuator models is inaccurate due to unknown nonlinear robot dynamic effects. An alternative method is data-driven parameter estimation, but significant noise in measured and inferred variables affects it adversely. Moreover, standard estimation procedures may give physically inconsistent results due to unmodeled nonlinearities or insufficiently rich data. This paper addresses these problems, proposing a Bayesian system identification technique for linear or piecewise linear systems. Inspired by Factor Analysis regression, we develop a computationally efficient variational Bayesian regression algorithm that is robust to ill-conditioned data, automatically detects relevant features, and identifies input and output noise. We evaluate our approach on rigid body parameter estimation for various robotic systems, achieving an error of up to three times lower than other state-of-the-art machine learning methods.

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link (url) [BibTex]


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A first optimal control solution for a complex, nonlinear, tendon driven neuromuscular finger model

Theodorou, E. A., Todorov, E., Valero-Cuevas, F.

Proceedings of the ASME 2010 Summer Bioengineering Conference August 30-September 2, 2010, Naples, Florida, USA, 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
In this work we present the first constrained stochastic op- timal feedback controller applied to a fully nonlinear, tendon driven index finger model. Our model also takes into account an extensor mechanism, and muscle force-length and force-velocity properties. We show this feedback controller is robust to noise and perturbations to the dynamics, while successfully handling the nonlinearities and high dimensionality of the system. By ex- tending prior methods, we are able to approximate physiological realism by ensuring positivity of neural commands and tendon tensions at all timesthus can, for the first time, use the optimal control framework to predict biologically plausible tendon tensions for a nonlinear neuromuscular finger model. METHODS 1 Muscle Model The rigid-body triple pendulum finger model with slightly viscous joints is actuated by Hill-type muscle models. Joint torques are generated by the seven muscles of the index fin-

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


 Automated Home-Cage Behavioral Phenotyping of Mice
Automated Home-Cage Behavioral Phenotyping of Mice

Jhuang, H., Garrote, E., Mutch, J., Poggio, T., Steele, A., Serre, T.

Nature Communications, Nature Communications, 2010 (article)

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software, demo pdf [BibTex]

software, demo pdf [BibTex]


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Efficient learning and feature detection in high dimensional regression

Ting, J., D’Souza, A., Vijayakumar, S., Schaal, S.

Neural Computation, 22, pages: 831-886, 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
We present a novel algorithm for efficient learning and feature selection in high- dimensional regression problems. We arrive at this model through a modification of the standard regression model, enabling us to derive a probabilistic version of the well-known statistical regression technique of backfitting. Using the Expectation- Maximization algorithm, along with variational approximation methods to overcome intractability, we extend our algorithm to include automatic relevance detection of the input features. This Variational Bayesian Least Squares (VBLS) approach retains its simplicity as a linear model, but offers a novel statistically robust â??black- boxâ? approach to generalized linear regression with high-dimensional inputs. It can be easily extended to nonlinear regression and classification problems. In particular, we derive the framework of sparse Bayesian learning, e.g., the Relevance Vector Machine, with VBLS at its core, offering significant computational and robustness advantages for this class of methods. We evaluate our algorithm on synthetic and neurophysiological data sets, as well as on standard regression and classification benchmark data sets, comparing it with other competitive statistical approaches and demonstrating its suitability as a drop-in replacement for other generalized linear regression techniques.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


ImageFlow: Streaming Image Search
ImageFlow: Streaming Image Search

Jampani, V., Ramos, G., Drucker, S.

MSR-TR-2010-148, Microsoft Research, Redmond, 2010 (techreport)

Abstract
Traditional grid and list representations of image search results are the dominant interaction paradigms that users face on a daily basis, yet it is unclear that such paradigms are well-suited for experiences where the user‟s task is to browse images for leisure, to discover new information or to seek particular images to represent ideas. We introduce ImageFlow, a novel image search user interface that ex-plores a different alternative to the traditional presentation of image search results. ImageFlow presents image results on a canvas where we map semantic features (e.g., rele-vance, related queries) to the canvas‟ spatial dimensions (e.g., x, y, z) in a way that allows for several levels of en-gagement – from passively viewing a stream of images, to seamlessly navigating through the semantic space and ac-tively collecting images for sharing and reuse. We have implemented our system as a fully functioning prototype, and we report on promising, preliminary usage results.

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url pdf link (url) [BibTex]

url pdf link (url) [BibTex]


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Stochastic Differential Dynamic Programming

Theodorou, E., Tassa, Y., Todorov, E.

In the proceedings of American Control Conference (ACC 2010) , 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
We present a generalization of the classic Differential Dynamic Programming algorithm. We assume the existence of state- and control-dependent process noise, and proceed to derive the second-order expansion of the cost-to-go. Despite having quartic and cubic terms in the initial expression, we show that these vanish, leaving us with the same quadratic structure as standard DDP.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


Visual Object-Action Recognition: Inferring Object Affordances from Human Demonstration
Visual Object-Action Recognition: Inferring Object Affordances from Human Demonstration

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

Computer Vision and Image Understanding, pages: 81-90, 2010 (article)

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Pdf [BibTex]

Pdf [BibTex]


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Learning control in robotics – trajectory-based opitimal control techniques

Schaal, S., Atkeson, C. G.

Robotics and Automation Magazine, 17(2):20-29, 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
In a not too distant future, robots will be a natural part of daily life in human society, providing assistance in many areas ranging from clinical applications, education and care giving, to normal household environments [1]. It is hard to imagine that all possible tasks can be preprogrammed in such robots. Robots need to be able to learn, either by themselves or with the help of human supervision. Additionally, wear and tear on robots in daily use needs to be automatically compensated for, which requires a form of continuous self-calibration, another form of learning. Finally, robots need to react to stochastic and dynamic environments, i.e., they need to learn how to optimally adapt to uncertainty and unforeseen changes. Robot learning is going to be a key ingredient for the future of autonomous robots. While robot learning covers a rather large field, from learning to perceive, to plan, to make decisions, etc., we will focus this review on topics of learning control, in particular, as it is concerned with learning control in simulated or actual physical robots. In general, learning control refers to the process of acquiring a control strategy for a particular control system and a particular task by trial and error. Learning control is usually distinguished from adaptive control [2] in that the learning system can have rather general optimization objectivesâ??not just, e.g., minimal tracking errorâ??and is permitted to fail during the process of learning, while adaptive control emphasizes fast convergence without failure. Thus, learning control resembles the way that humans and animals acquire new movement strategies, while adaptive control is a special case of learning control that fulfills stringent performance constraints, e.g., as needed in life-critical systems like airplanes. Learning control has been an active topic of research for at least three decades. However, given the lack of working robots that actually use learning components, more work needs to be done before robot learning will make it beyond the laboratory environment. This article will survey some ongoing and past activities in robot learning to assess where the field stands and where it is going. We will largely focus on nonwheeled robots and less on topics of state estimation, as typically explored in wheeled robots [3]â??6], and we emphasize learning in continuous state-action spaces rather than discrete state-action spaces [7], [8]. We will illustrate the different topics of robot learning with examples from our own research with anthropomorphic and humanoid robots.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Learning, planning, and control for quadruped locomotion over challenging terrain

Kalakrishnan, M., Buchli, J., Pastor, P., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

International Journal of Robotics Research, 30(2):236-258, 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
We present a control architecture for fast quadruped locomotion over rough terrain. We approach the problem by decomposing it into many sub-systems, in which we apply state-of-the-art learning, planning, optimization, and control techniques to achieve robust, fast locomotion. Unique features of our control strategy include: (1) a system that learns optimal foothold choices from expert demonstration using terrain templates, (2) a body trajectory optimizer based on the Zero- Moment Point (ZMP) stability criterion, and (3) a floating-base inverse dynamics controller that, in conjunction with force control, allows for robust, compliant locomotion over unperceived obstacles. We evaluate the performance of our controller by testing it on the LittleDog quadruped robot, over a wide variety of rough terrains of varying difficulty levels. The terrain that the robot was tested on includes rocks, logs, steps, barriers, and gaps, with obstacle sizes up to the leg length of the robot. We demonstrate the generalization ability of this controller by presenting results from testing performed by an independent external test team on terrain that has never been shown to us.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

2008


Infinite Kernel Learning
Infinite Kernel Learning

Gehler, P., Nowozin, S.

(178), Max Planck Institute, octomber 2008 (techreport)

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project page pdf [BibTex]

2008


project page pdf [BibTex]


A non-parametric {Bayesian} alternative to spike sorting
A non-parametric Bayesian alternative to spike sorting

Wood, F., Black, M. J.

J. Neuroscience Methods, 173(1):1–12, August 2008 (article)

Abstract
The analysis of extra-cellular neural recordings typically begins with careful spike sorting and all analysis of the data then rests on the correctness of the resulting spike trains. In many situations this is unproblematic as experimental and spike sorting procedures often focus on well isolated units. There is evidence in the literature, however, that errors in spike sorting can occur even with carefully collected and selected data. Additionally, chronically implanted electrodes and arrays with fixed electrodes cannot be easily adjusted to provide well isolated units. In these situations, multiple units may be recorded and the assignment of waveforms to units may be ambiguous. At the same time, analysis of such data may be both scientifically important and clinically relevant. In this paper we address this issue using a novel probabilistic model that accounts for several important sources of uncertainty and error in spike sorting. In lieu of sorting neural data to produce a single best spike train, we estimate a probabilistic model of spike trains given the observed data. We show how such a distribution over spike sortings can support standard neuroscientific questions while providing a representation of uncertainty in the analysis. As a representative illustration of the approach, we analyzed primary motor cortical tuning with respect to hand movement in data recorded with a chronic multi-electrode array in non-human primates.We found that the probabilistic analysis generally agrees with human sorters but suggests the presence of tuned units not detected by humans.

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pdf preprint pdf from publisher PubMed [BibTex]

pdf preprint pdf from publisher PubMed [BibTex]


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Learning to control in operational space

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

International Journal of Robotics Research, 27, pages: 197-212, 2008, clmc (article)

Abstract
One of the most general frameworks for phrasing control problems for complex, redundant robots is operational space control. However, while this framework is of essential importance for robotics and well-understood from an analytical point of view, it can be prohibitively hard to achieve accurate control in face of modeling errors, which are inevitable in com- plex robots, e.g., humanoid robots. In this paper, we suggest a learning approach for opertional space control as a direct inverse model learning problem. A first important insight for this paper is that a physically cor- rect solution to the inverse problem with redundant degrees-of-freedom does exist when learning of the inverse map is performed in a suitable piecewise linear way. The second crucial component for our work is based on the insight that many operational space controllers can be understood in terms of a constrained optimal control problem. The cost function as- sociated with this optimal control problem allows us to formulate a learn- ing algorithm that automatically synthesizes a globally consistent desired resolution of redundancy while learning the operational space controller. From the machine learning point of view, this learning problem corre- sponds to a reinforcement learning problem that maximizes an immediate reward. We employ an expectation-maximization policy search algorithm in order to solve this problem. Evaluations on a three degrees of freedom robot arm are used to illustrate the suggested approach. The applica- tion to a physically realistic simulator of the anthropomorphic SARCOS Master arm demonstrates feasibility for complex high degree-of-freedom robots. We also show that the proposed method works in the setting of learning resolved motion rate control on real, physical Mitsubishi PA-10 medical robotics arm.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Neural control of computer cursor velocity by decoding motor cortical spiking activity in humans with tetraplegia
Neural control of computer cursor velocity by decoding motor cortical spiking activity in humans with tetraplegia

(J. Neural Engineering Highlights of 2008 Collection)

Kim, S., Simeral, J., Hochberg, L., Donoghue, J. P., Black, M. J.

J. Neural Engineering, 5, pages: 455–476, 2008 (article)

Abstract
Computer-mediated connections between human motor cortical neurons and assistive devices promise to improve or restore lost function in people with paralysis. Recently, a pilot clinical study of an intracortical neural interface system demonstrated that a tetraplegic human was able to obtain continuous two-dimensional control of a computer cursor using neural activity recorded from his motor cortex. This control, however, was not sufficiently accurate for reliable use in many common computer control tasks. Here, we studied several central design choices for such a system including the kinematic representation for cursor movement, the decoding method that translates neuronal ensemble spiking activity into a control signal and the cursor control task used during training for optimizing the parameters of the decoding method. In two tetraplegic participants, we found that controlling a cursor’s velocity resulted in more accurate closed-loop control than controlling its position directly and that cursor velocity control was achieved more rapidly than position control. Control quality was further improved over conventional linear filters by using a probabilistic method, the Kalman filter, to decode human motor cortical activity. Performance assessment based on standard metrics used for the evaluation of a wide range of pointing devices demonstrated significantly improved cursor control with velocity rather than position decoding.

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pdf preprint pdf from publisher [BibTex]

pdf preprint pdf from publisher [BibTex]


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Adaptation to a sub-optimal desired trajectory

M. Mistry, E. A. G. L. T. Y. S. S. M. K.

Advances in Computational Motor Control VII, Symposium at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting, Washington DC, 2008, 2008, clmc (article)

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


Incremental nonparametric {Bayesian} regression
Incremental nonparametric Bayesian regression

Wood, F., Grollman, D. H., Heller, K. A., Jenkins, O. C., Black, M. J.

(CS-08-07), Brown University, Department of Computer Science, 2008 (techreport)

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


Brownian Warps for Non-Rigid Registration
Brownian Warps for Non-Rigid Registration

Mads Nielsen, Peter Johansen, Andrew Jackson, Benny Lautrup, Soren Hauberg

Journal of Mathematical Imaging and Vision, 31, pages: 221-231, Springer Netherlands, 2008 (article)

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Publishers site PDF [BibTex]

Publishers site PDF [BibTex]


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Operational space control: A theoretical and emprical comparison

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

International Journal of Robotics Research, 27(6):737-757, 2008, clmc (article)

Abstract
Dexterous manipulation with a highly redundant movement system is one of the hallmarks of hu- man motor skills. From numerous behavioral studies, there is strong evidence that humans employ compliant task space control, i.e., they focus control only on task variables while keeping redundant degrees-of-freedom as compliant as possible. This strategy is robust towards unknown disturbances and simultaneously safe for the operator and the environment. The theory of operational space con- trol in robotics aims to achieve similar performance properties. However, despite various compelling theoretical lines of research, advanced operational space control is hardly found in actual robotics imple- mentations, in particular new kinds of robots like humanoids and service robots, which would strongly profit from compliant dexterous manipulation. To analyze the pros and cons of different approaches to operational space control, this paper focuses on a theoretical and empirical evaluation of different methods that have been suggested in the literature, but also some new variants of operational space controllers. We address formulations at the velocity, acceleration and force levels. First, we formulate all controllers in a common notational framework, including quaternion-based orientation control, and discuss some of their theoretical properties. Second, we present experimental comparisons of these approaches on a seven-degree-of-freedom anthropomorphic robot arm with several benchmark tasks. As an aside, we also introduce a novel parameter estimation algorithm for rigid body dynamics, which ensures physical consistency, as this issue was crucial for our successful robot implementations. Our extensive empirical results demonstrate that one of the simplified acceleration-based approaches can be advantageous in terms of task performance, ease of parameter tuning, and general robustness and compliance in face of inevitable modeling errors.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


 An Efficient Algorithm for Modelling Duration in Hidden Markov Models, with a Dramatic Application
An Efficient Algorithm for Modelling Duration in Hidden Markov Models, with a Dramatic Application

Soren Hauberg, Jakob Sloth

Journal of Mathematical Imaging and Vision, 31, pages: 165-170, Springer Netherlands, 2008 (article)

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Publishers site Paper site PDF [BibTex]

Publishers site Paper site PDF [BibTex]


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Efficient inverse kinematics algorithms for highdimensional movement systems

Tevatia, G., Schaal, S.

CLMC Technical Report: TR-CLMC-2008-1, 2008, clmc (techreport)

Abstract
Real-time control of the endeffector of a humanoid robot in external coordinates requires computationally efficient solutions of the inverse kinematics problem. In this context, this paper investigates methods of resolved motion rate control (RMRC) that employ optimization criteria to resolve kinematic redundancies. In particular we focus on two established techniques, the pseudo inverse with explicit optimization and the extended Jacobian method. We prove that the extended Jacobian method includes pseudo-inverse methods as a special solution. In terms of computational complexity, however, pseudo-inverse and extended Jacobian differ significantly in favor of pseudo-inverse methods. Employing numerical estimation techniques, we introduce a computationally efficient version of the extended Jacobian with performance comparable to the original version. Our results are illustrated in simulation studies with a multiple degree-offreedom robot, and were evaluated on an actual 30 degree-of-freedom full-body humanoid robot.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]