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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]


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]


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]


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]


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]


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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]


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Two-dimensional magnetic micro-module reconfigurations based on inter-modular interactions

Miyashita, S., Diller, E., Sitti, M.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 32(5):591-613, SAGE Publications Sage UK: London, England, 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Contact compliance effects in the frictional response of bioinspired fibrillar adhesives

Piccardo, M., Chateauminois, A., Fretigny, C., Pugno, N. M., Sitti, M.

Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 10(83):20130182, The Royal Society, 2013 (article)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Co-chairs

VINCENT, Julian, ZHU, Di, DAI, Zhendong, CHEN, Da, JIANG, Lei, KANG, Le, REN, Luquan, XUE, Qunji, Zhao, Chunsheng, BARNES, Jon, others

2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Topological Control of Cell Sheet Migration by the 3D Microenvironment

Song, J., Kim, Y. T., Hazar, M., LeDuc, P. R., Davidson, L. A., Sitti, M.

Biophysical Journal, 104(2):147a, Elsevier, 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Independent control of multiple magnetic microrobots in three dimensions

Diller, E., Giltinan, J., Sitti, M.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 32(5):614-631, SAGE Publications Sage UK: London, England, 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Modular micro-robotic assembly through magnetic actuation and thermal bonding

Diller, E., Zhang, N., Sitti, M.

Journal of Micro-Bio Robotics, 8(3-4):121-131, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Modeling Shapes with Higher-Order Graphs: Theory and Applications
Modeling Shapes with Higher-Order Graphs: Theory and Applications

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

In Shape Perception in Human and Computer Vision: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, (Editors: Zygmunt Pizlo and Sven Dickinson), Springer, 2013 (incollection)

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Publishers site [BibTex]

Publishers site [BibTex]


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Using Torque Redundancy to Optimize Contact Forces in Legged Robots

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

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

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

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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A simulation and design tool for a passive rotation flapping wing mechanism

Arabagi, V., Hines, L., Sitti, M.

IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 18(2):787-798, 2013 (article)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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GECKO-INSPIRED POLYMER ADHESIVES

Menguc, Yigit, Metin, Metin

Polymer Adhesion, Friction, and Lubrication, pages: 351, Wiley, 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Near and far-wall effects on the three-dimensional motion of bacteria-driven microbeads

Edwards, M. R., Wright Carlsen, R., Sitti, M.

Applied Physics Letters, 102(14):143701, AIP, 2013 (article)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Magnetically Actuated Soft Capsule With the Multimodal Drug Release Function

Yim, S., Goyal, K., Sitti, M.

IEEE/ASME Trans. on Mechatronics, 18(4):1413-1418, IEEE, 2013 (article)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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An opto-thermocapillary cell micromanipulator

Hu, W., Fan, Q., Ohta, A. T.

Lab on a Chip, 13(12):2285-2291, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2013 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[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]


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Tank-like module-based climbing robot using passive compliant joints

Seo, T., Sitti, M.

IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 18(1):397-408, 2013 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Enhanced fabrication and characterization of gecko-inspired mushroom-tipped microfiber adhesives

Song, J., Mengüç, Y., Sitti, M.

Journal of Adhesion Science and Technology, 27(17):1921-1932, Routledge, 2013 (article)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


Class-Specific Hough Forests for Object Detection
Class-Specific Hough Forests for Object Detection

Gall, J., Lempitsky, V.

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

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code Project Page [BibTex]

code Project Page [BibTex]


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Micro-scale mobile robotics

Diller, E., Sitti, M.

Foundations and Trends in Robotics, 2(3):143-259, Now Publishers Incorporated, 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Survey and Introduction to the Focused Section on Bio-Inspired Mechatronics

Sitti, M., Menciassi, A., Ijspeert, A., Low, K. H., Kim, S.

Mechatronics, IEEE/ASME Transactions on, 18(2):409-418, DOI: 10.1109/TMECH.2012. 2233492, 2013 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Miniaturisation for chemistry, physics, biology, materials science and bioengineering

Lee, T., Shin, Y., Park, M.

Lab Chip, 13, pages: 81-89, 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Image Gradient Based Level Set Methods in 2D and 3D
Image Gradient Based Level Set Methods in 2D and 3D

Xianhua Xie, Si Yong Yeo, Majid Mirmehdi, Igor Sazonov, Perumal Nithiarasu

In Deformation Models: Tracking, Animation and Applications, pages: 101-120, 0, (Editors: Manuel González Hidalgo and Arnau Mir Torres and Javier Varona Gómez), Springer, 2013 (inbook)

Abstract
This chapter presents an image gradient based approach to perform 2D and 3D deformable model segmentation using level set. The 2D method uses an external force field that is based on magnetostatics and hypothesized magnetic interactions between the active contour and object boundaries. The major contribution of the method is that the interaction of its forces can greatly improve the active contour in capturing complex geometries and dealing with difficult initializations, weak edges and broken boundaries. This method is then generalized to 3D by reformulating its external force based on geometrical interactions between the relative geometries of the deformable model and the object boundary characterized by image gradient. The evolution of the deformable model is solved using the level set method so that topological changes are handled automatically. The relative geometrical configurations between the deformable model and the object boundaries contribute to a dynamic vector force field that changes accordingly as the deformable model evolves. The geometrically induced dynamic interaction force has been shown to greatly improve the deformable model performance in acquiring complex geometries and highly concave boundaries, and it gives the deformable model a high invariancy in initialization configurations. The voxel interactions across the whole image domain provide a global view of the object boundary representation, giving the external force a long attraction range. The bidirectionality of the external force field allows the new deformable model to deal with arbitrary cross-boundary initializations, and facilitates the handling of weak edges and broken boundaries.

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[BibTex]

[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]

2011


High-quality reflection separation using polarized images
High-quality reflection separation using polarized images

Kong, N., Tai, Y., Shin, S. Y.

IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, 20(12):3393-3405, IEEE Signal Processing Society, December 2011 (article)

Abstract
In this paper, we deal with a problem of separating the effect of reflection from images captured behind glass. The input consists of multiple polarized images captured from the same view point but with different polarizer angles. The output is the high quality separation of the reflection layer and the background layer from the images. We formulate this problem as a constrained optimization problem and propose a framework that allows us to fully exploit the mutually exclusive image information in our input data. We test our approach on various images and demonstrate that our approach can generate good reflection separation results.

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Publisher site [BibTex]

2011


Publisher site [BibTex]


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A human inspired gaze estimation system

Wulff, J., Sinha, P.

Journal of Vision, 11(11):507-507, ARVO, September 2011 (article)

Abstract
Estimating another person's gaze is a crucial skill in human social interactions. The social component is most apparent in dyadic gaze situations, in which the looker seems to look into the eyes of the observer, thereby signaling interest or a turn to speak. In a triadic situation, on the other hand, the looker's gaze is averted from the observer and directed towards another, specific target. This is mostly interpreted as a cue for joint attention, creating awareness of a predator or another point of interest. In keeping with the task's social significance, humans are very proficient at gaze estimation. Our accuracy ranges from less than one degree for dyadic settings to approximately 2.5 degrees for triadic ones. Our goal in this work is to draw inspiration from human gaze estimation mechanisms in order to create an artificial system that can approach the former's accuracy levels. Since human performance is severely impaired by both image-based degradations (Ando, 2004) and a change of facial configurations (Jenkins & Langton, 2003), the underlying principles are believed to be based both on simple image cues such as contrast/brightness distribution and on more complex geometric processing to reconstruct the actual shape of the head. By incorporating both kinds of cues in our system's design, we are able to surpass the accuracy of existing eye-tracking systems, which rely exclusively on either image-based or geometry-based cues (Yamazoe et al., 2008). A side-benefit of this combined approach is that it allows for gaze estimation despite moderate view-point changes. This is important for settings where subjects, say young children or certain kinds of patients, might not be fully cooperative to allow a careful calibration. Our model and implementation of gaze estimation opens up new experimental questions about human mechanisms while also providing a useful tool for general calibration-free, non-intrusive remote eye-tracking.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Detecting synchrony in degraded audio-visual streams

Dhandhania, K., Wulff, J., Sinha, P.

Journal of Vision, 11(11):800-800, ARVO, September 2011 (article)

Abstract
Even 8–10 week old infants, when presented with two dynamic faces and a speech stream, look significantly longer at the ‘correct’ talking person (Patterson & Werker, 2003). This is true even though their reduced visual acuity prevents them from utilizing high spatial frequencies. Computational analyses in the field of audio/video synchrony and automatic speaker detection (e.g. Hershey & Movellan, 2000), in contrast, usually depend on high-resolution images. Therefore, the correlation mechanisms found in these computational studies are not directly applicable to the processes through which we learn to integrate the modalities of speech and vision. In this work, we investigated the correlation between speech signals and degraded video signals. We found a high correlation persisting even with high image degradation, resembling the low visual acuity of young infants. Additionally (in a fashion similar to Graf et al., 2002) we explored which parts of the face correlate with the audio in the degraded video sequences. Perfect synchrony and small offsets in the audio were used while finding the correlation, thereby detecting visual events preceding and following audio events. In order to achieve a sufficiently high temporal resolution, high-speed video sequences (500 frames per second) of talking people were used. This is a temporal resolution unachieved in previous studies and has allowed us to capture very subtle and short visual events. We believe that the results of this study might be interesting not only to vision researchers, but, by revealing subtle effects on a very fine timescale, also to people working in computer graphics and the generation and animation of artificial faces.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Trajectory Space: A Dual Representation for Nonrigid Structure from Motion
Trajectory Space: A Dual Representation for Nonrigid Structure from Motion

Akhter, I., Sheikh, Y., Khan, S., Kanade, T.

Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, IEEE Transactions on, 33(7):1442-1456, IEEE, July 2011 (article)

Abstract
Existing approaches to nonrigid structure from motion assume that the instantaneous 3D shape of a deforming object is a linear combination of basis shapes. These basis are object dependent and therefore have to be estimated anew for each video sequence. In contrast, we propose a dual approach to describe the evolving 3D structure in trajectory space by a linear combination of basis trajectories. We describe the dual relationship between the two approaches, showing that they both have equal power for representing 3D structure. We further show that the temporal smoothness in 3D trajectories alone can be used for recovering nonrigid structure from a moving camera. The principal advantage of expressing deforming 3D structure in trajectory space is that we can define an object independent basis. This results in a significant reduction in unknowns, and corresponding stability in estimation. We propose the use of the Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT) as the object independent basis and empirically demonstrate that it approaches Principal Component Analysis (PCA) for natural motions. We report the performance of the proposed method, quantitatively using motion capture data, and qualitatively on several video sequences exhibiting nonrigid motions including piecewise rigid motion, partially nonrigid motion (such as a facial expressions), and highly nonrigid motion (such as a person walking or dancing).

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pdf project page [BibTex]

pdf project page [BibTex]


Loose-limbed People: Estimating {3D} Human Pose and Motion Using Non-parametric Belief Propagation
Loose-limbed People: Estimating 3D Human Pose and Motion Using Non-parametric Belief Propagation

Sigal, L., Isard, M., Haussecker, H., Black, M. J.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 98(1):15-48, Springer Netherlands, May 2011 (article)

Abstract
We formulate the problem of 3D human pose estimation and tracking as one of inference in a graphical model. Unlike traditional kinematic tree representations, our model of the body is a collection of loosely-connected body-parts. In particular, we model the body using an undirected graphical model in which nodes correspond to parts and edges to kinematic, penetration, and temporal constraints imposed by the joints and the world. These constraints are encoded using pair-wise statistical distributions, that are learned from motion-capture training data. Human pose and motion estimation is formulated as inference in this graphical model and is solved using Particle Message Passing (PaMPas). PaMPas is a form of non-parametric belief propagation that uses a variation of particle filtering that can be applied over a general graphical model with loops. The loose-limbed model and decentralized graph structure allow us to incorporate information from "bottom-up" visual cues, such as limb and head detectors, into the inference process. These detectors enable automatic initialization and aid recovery from transient tracking failures. We illustrate the method by automatically tracking people in multi-view imagery using a set of calibrated cameras and present quantitative evaluation using the HumanEva dataset.

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pdf publisher's site link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf publisher's site link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Point-and-Click Cursor Control With an Intracortical Neural Interface System by Humans With Tetraplegia
Point-and-Click Cursor Control With an Intracortical Neural Interface System by Humans With Tetraplegia

Kim, S., Simeral, J. D., Hochberg, L. R., Donoghue, J. P., Friehs, G. M., Black, M. J.

IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, 19(2):193-203, April 2011 (article)

Abstract
We present a point-and-click intracortical neural interface system (NIS) that enables humans with tetraplegia to volitionally move a 2D computer cursor in any desired direction on a computer screen, hold it still and click on the area of interest. This direct brain-computer interface extracts both discrete (click) and continuous (cursor velocity) signals from a single small population of neurons in human motor cortex. A key component of this system is a multi-state probabilistic decoding algorithm that simultaneously decodes neural spiking activity and outputs either a click signal or the velocity of the cursor. The algorithm combines a linear classifier, which determines whether the user is intending to click or move the cursor, with a Kalman filter that translates the neural population activity into cursor velocity. We present a paradigm for training the multi-state decoding algorithm using neural activity observed during imagined actions. Two human participants with tetraplegia (paralysis of the four limbs) performed a closed-loop radial target acquisition task using the point-and-click NIS over multiple sessions. We quantified point-and-click performance using various human-computer interaction measurements for pointing devices. We found that participants were able to control the cursor motion accurately and click on specified targets with a small error rate (< 3% in one participant). This study suggests that signals from a small ensemble of motor cortical neurons (~40) can be used for natural point-and-click 2D cursor control of a personal computer.

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pdf publishers's site pub med link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

pdf publishers's site pub med link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


A Database and Evaluation Methodology for Optical Flow
A Database and Evaluation Methodology for Optical Flow

Baker, S., Scharstein, D., Lewis, J. P., Roth, S., Black, M. J., Szeliski, R.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 92(1):1-31, March 2011 (article)

Abstract
The quantitative evaluation of optical flow algorithms by Barron et al. (1994) led to significant advances in performance. The challenges for optical flow algorithms today go beyond the datasets and evaluation methods proposed in that paper. Instead, they center on problems associated with complex natural scenes, including nonrigid motion, real sensor noise, and motion discontinuities. We propose a new set of benchmarks and evaluation methods for the next generation of optical flow algorithms. To that end, we contribute four types of data to test different aspects of optical flow algorithms: (1) sequences with nonrigid motion where the ground-truth flow is determined by tracking hidden fluorescent texture, (2) realistic synthetic sequences, (3) high frame-rate video used to study interpolation error, and (4) modified stereo sequences of static scenes. In addition to the average angular error used by Barron et al., we compute the absolute flow endpoint error, measures for frame interpolation error, improved statistics, and results at motion discontinuities and in textureless regions. In October 2007, we published the performance of several well-known methods on a preliminary version of our data to establish the current state of the art. We also made the data freely available on the web at http://vision.middlebury.edu/flow/ . Subsequently a number of researchers have uploaded their results to our website and published papers using the data. A significant improvement in performance has already been achieved. In this paper we analyze the results obtained to date and draw a large number of conclusions from them.

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pdf pdf from publisher Middlebury Flow Evaluation Website [BibTex]

pdf pdf from publisher Middlebury Flow Evaluation Website [BibTex]


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

Kalakrishnan, Mrinal, Buchli, Jonas, Pastor, Peter, Mistry, Michael, Schaal, S.

International Journal of Robotics Research, 30(2):236-258, February 2011 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Design and application of a wire-driven bidirectional telescopic mechanism for workspace expansion with a focus on shipbuilding tasks

Lee, D., Chang, D., Shin, Y., Son, D., Kim, T., Lee, K., Kim, J.

Advanced Robotics, 25, 2011 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Bayesian robot system identification with input and output noise

Ting, J., D’Souza, A., Schaal, S.

Neural Networks, 24(1):99-108, 2011, 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]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Learning variable impedance control

Buchli, J., Stulp, F., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

International Journal of Robotics Research, 2011, clmc (article)

Abstract
One of the hallmarks of the performance, versatility, and robustness of biological motor control is the ability to adapt the impedance of the overall biomechanical system to different task requirements and stochastic disturbances. A transfer of this principle to robotics is desirable, for instance to enable robots to work robustly and safely in everyday human environments. It is, however, not trivial to derive variable impedance controllers for practical high degree-of-freedom (DOF) robotic tasks. In this contribution, we accomplish such variable impedance control with the reinforcement learning (RL) algorithm PISq ({f P}olicy {f I}mprovement with {f P}ath {f I}ntegrals). PISq is a model-free, sampling based learning method derived from first principles of stochastic optimal control. The PISq algorithm requires no tuning of algorithmic parameters besides the exploration noise. The designer can thus fully focus on cost function design to specify the task. From the viewpoint of robotics, a particular useful property of PISq is that it can scale to problems of many DOFs, so that reinforcement learning on real robotic systems becomes feasible. We sketch the PISq algorithm and its theoretical properties, and how it is applied to gain scheduling for variable impedance control. We evaluate our approach by presenting results on several simulated and real robots. We consider tasks involving accurate tracking through via-points, and manipulation tasks requiring physical contact with the environment. In these tasks, the optimal strategy requires both tuning of a reference trajectory emph{and} the impedance of the end-effector. The results show that we can use path integral based reinforcement learning not only for planning but also to derive variable gain feedback controllers in realistic scenarios. Thus, the power of variable impedance control is made available to a wide variety of robotic systems and practical applications.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Waalbot II: Adhesion recovery and improved performance of a climbing robot using fibrillar adhesives

Murphy, M. P., Kute, C., Mengüç, Y., Sitti, M.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 30(1):118-133, SAGE Publications Sage UK: London, England, 2011 (article)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]