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2019


Decoding subcategories of human bodies from both body- and face-responsive cortical regions
Decoding subcategories of human bodies from both body- and face-responsive cortical regions

Foster, C., Zhao, M., Romero, J., Black, M. J., Mohler, B. J., Bartels, A., Bülthoff, I.

NeuroImage, 202(15):116085, November 2019 (article)

Abstract
Our visual system can easily categorize objects (e.g. faces vs. bodies) and further differentiate them into subcategories (e.g. male vs. female). This ability is particularly important for objects of social significance, such as human faces and bodies. While many studies have demonstrated category selectivity to faces and bodies in the brain, how subcategories of faces and bodies are represented remains unclear. Here, we investigated how the brain encodes two prominent subcategories shared by both faces and bodies, sex and weight, and whether neural responses to these subcategories rely on low-level visual, high-level visual or semantic similarity. We recorded brain activity with fMRI while participants viewed faces and bodies that varied in sex, weight, and image size. The results showed that the sex of bodies can be decoded from both body- and face-responsive brain areas, with the former exhibiting more consistent size-invariant decoding than the latter. Body weight could also be decoded in face-responsive areas and in distributed body-responsive areas, and this decoding was also invariant to image size. The weight of faces could be decoded from the fusiform body area (FBA), and weight could be decoded across face and body stimuli in the extrastriate body area (EBA) and a distributed body-responsive area. The sex of well-controlled faces (e.g. excluding hairstyles) could not be decoded from face- or body-responsive regions. These results demonstrate that both face- and body-responsive brain regions encode information that can distinguish the sex and weight of bodies. Moreover, the neural patterns corresponding to sex and weight were invariant to image size and could sometimes generalize across face and body stimuli, suggesting that such subcategorical information is encoded with a high-level visual or semantic code.

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paper pdf DOI [BibTex]

2019


paper pdf DOI [BibTex]


Active Perception based Formation Control for Multiple Aerial Vehicles
Active Perception based Formation Control for Multiple Aerial Vehicles

Tallamraju, R., Price, E., Ludwig, R., Karlapalem, K., Bülthoff, H. H., Black, M. J., Ahmad, A.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Robotics and Automation Letters, 4(4):4491-4498, IEEE, October 2019 (article)

Abstract
We present a novel robotic front-end for autonomous aerial motion-capture (mocap) in outdoor environments. In previous work, we presented an approach for cooperative detection and tracking (CDT) of a subject using multiple micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs). However, it did not ensure optimal view-point configurations of the MAVs to minimize the uncertainty in the person's cooperatively tracked 3D position estimate. In this article, we introduce an active approach for CDT. In contrast to cooperatively tracking only the 3D positions of the person, the MAVs can actively compute optimal local motion plans, resulting in optimal view-point configurations, which minimize the uncertainty in the tracked estimate. We achieve this by decoupling the goal of active tracking into a quadratic objective and non-convex constraints corresponding to angular configurations of the MAVs w.r.t. the person. We derive this decoupling using Gaussian observation model assumptions within the CDT algorithm. We preserve convexity in optimization by embedding all the non-convex constraints, including those for dynamic obstacle avoidance, as external control inputs in the MPC dynamics. Multiple real robot experiments and comparisons involving 3 MAVs in several challenging scenarios are presented.

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


3D Morphable Face Models - Past, Present and Future
3D Morphable Face Models - Past, Present and Future

Egger, B., Smith, W. A. P., Tewari, A., Wuhrer, S., Zollhoefer, M., Beeler, T., Bernard, F., Bolkart, T., Kortylewski, A., Romdhani, S., Theobalt, C., Blanz, V., Vetter, T.

arxiv preprint arXiv:1909.01815, September 2019 (article)

Abstract
In this paper, we provide a detailed survey of 3D Morphable Face Models over the 20 years since they were first proposed. The challenges in building and applying these models, namely capture, modeling, image formation,and image analysis, are still active research topics, and we review the state-of-the-art in each of these areas. We also look ahead, identifying unsolved challenges, proposing directions for future research and highlighting the broad range of current and future applications.

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paper project page [BibTex]

paper project page [BibTex]


Learning and Tracking the {3D} Body Shape of Freely Moving Infants from {RGB-D} sequences
Learning and Tracking the 3D Body Shape of Freely Moving Infants from RGB-D sequences

Hesse, N., Pujades, S., Black, M., Arens, M., Hofmann, U., Schroeder, S.

Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (TPAMI), 2019 (article)

Abstract
Statistical models of the human body surface are generally learned from thousands of high-quality 3D scans in predefined poses to cover the wide variety of human body shapes and articulations. Acquisition of such data requires expensive equipment, calibration procedures, and is limited to cooperative subjects who can understand and follow instructions, such as adults. We present a method for learning a statistical 3D Skinned Multi-Infant Linear body model (SMIL) from incomplete, low-quality RGB-D sequences of freely moving infants. Quantitative experiments show that SMIL faithfully represents the RGB-D data and properly factorizes the shape and pose of the infants. To demonstrate the applicability of SMIL, we fit the model to RGB-D sequences of freely moving infants and show, with a case study, that our method captures enough motion detail for General Movements Assessment (GMA), a method used in clinical practice for early detection of neurodevelopmental disorders in infants. SMIL provides a new tool for analyzing infant shape and movement and is a step towards an automated system for GMA.

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pdf Journal DOI [BibTex]

pdf Journal DOI [BibTex]


 Perceptual Effects of Inconsistency in Human Animations
Perceptual Effects of Inconsistency in Human Animations

Kenny, S., Mahmood, N., Honda, C., Black, M. J., Troje, N. F.

ACM Trans. Appl. Percept., 16(1):2:1-2:18, Febuary 2019 (article)

Abstract
The individual shape of the human body, including the geometry of its articulated structure and the distribution of weight over that structure, influences the kinematics of a person’s movements. How sensitive is the visual system to inconsistencies between shape and motion introduced by retargeting motion from one person onto the shape of another? We used optical motion capture to record five pairs of male performers with large differences in body weight, while they pushed, lifted, and threw objects. From these data, we estimated both the kinematics of the actions as well as the performer’s individual body shape. To obtain consistent and inconsistent stimuli, we created animated avatars by combining the shape and motion estimates from either a single performer or from different performers. Using these stimuli we conducted three experiments in an immersive virtual reality environment. First, a group of participants detected which of two stimuli was inconsistent. Performance was very low, and results were only marginally significant. Next, a second group of participants rated perceived attractiveness, eeriness, and humanness of consistent and inconsistent stimuli, but these judgements of animation characteristics were not affected by consistency of the stimuli. Finally, a third group of participants rated properties of the objects rather than of the performers. Here, we found strong influences of shape-motion inconsistency on perceived weight and thrown distance of objects. This suggests that the visual system relies on its knowledge of shape and motion and that these components are assimilated into an altered perception of the action outcome. We propose that the visual system attempts to resist inconsistent interpretations of human animations. Actions involving object manipulations present an opportunity for the visual system to reinterpret the introduced inconsistencies as a change in the dynamics of an object rather than as an unexpected combination of body shape and body motion.

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publisher pdf DOI [BibTex]

publisher pdf DOI [BibTex]


The Virtual Caliper: Rapid Creation of Metrically Accurate Avatars from {3D} Measurements
The Virtual Caliper: Rapid Creation of Metrically Accurate Avatars from 3D Measurements

Pujades, S., Mohler, B., Thaler, A., Tesch, J., Mahmood, N., Hesse, N., Bülthoff, H. H., Black, M. J.

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 25, pages: 1887,1897, IEEE, 2019 (article)

Abstract
Creating metrically accurate avatars is important for many applications such as virtual clothing try-on, ergonomics, medicine, immersive social media, telepresence, and gaming. Creating avatars that precisely represent a particular individual is challenging however, due to the need for expensive 3D scanners, privacy issues with photographs or videos, and difficulty in making accurate tailoring measurements. We overcome these challenges by creating “The Virtual Caliper”, which uses VR game controllers to make simple measurements. First, we establish what body measurements users can reliably make on their own body. We find several distance measurements to be good candidates and then verify that these are linearly related to 3D body shape as represented by the SMPL body model. The Virtual Caliper enables novice users to accurately measure themselves and create an avatar with their own body shape. We evaluate the metric accuracy relative to ground truth 3D body scan data, compare the method quantitatively to other avatar creation tools, and perform extensive perceptual studies. We also provide a software application to the community that enables novices to rapidly create avatars in fewer than five minutes. Not only is our approach more rapid than existing methods, it exports a metrically accurate 3D avatar model that is rigged and skinned.

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Project Page IEEE Open Access IEEE Open Access PDF DOI [BibTex]

Project Page IEEE Open Access IEEE Open Access PDF DOI [BibTex]


Automated Generation of Reactive Programs from Human Demonstration for Orchestration of Robot Behaviors
Automated Generation of Reactive Programs from Human Demonstration for Orchestration of Robot Behaviors

Berenz, V., Bjelic, A., Mainprice, J.

ArXiv, 2019 (article)

Abstract
Social robots or collaborative robots that have to interact with people in a reactive way are difficult to program. This difficulty stems from the different skills required by the programmer: to provide an engaging user experience the behavior must include a sense of aesthetics while robustly operating in a continuously changing environment. The Playful framework allows composing such dynamic behaviors using a basic set of action and perception primitives. Within this framework, a behavior is encoded as a list of declarative statements corresponding to high-level sensory-motor couplings. To facilitate non-expert users to program such behaviors, we propose a Learning from Demonstration (LfD) technique that maps motion capture of humans directly to a Playful script. The approach proceeds by identifying the sensory-motor couplings that are active at each step using the Viterbi path in a Hidden Markov Model (HMM). Given these activation patterns, binary classifiers called evaluations are trained to associate activations to sensory data. Modularity is increased by clustering the sensory-motor couplings, leading to a hierarchical tree structure. The novelty of the proposed approach is that the learned behavior is encoded not in terms of trajectories in a task space, but as couplings between sensory information and high-level motor actions. This provides advantages in terms of behavioral generalization and reactivity displayed by the robot.

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Support Video link (url) [BibTex]

2016


A New Perspective and Extension of the Gaussian Filter
A New Perspective and Extension of the Gaussian Filter

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

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

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

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2016


PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Creating body shapes from verbal descriptions by linking similarity spaces
Creating body shapes from verbal descriptions by linking similarity spaces

Hill, M. Q., Streuber, S., Hahn, C. A., Black, M. J., O’Toole, A. J.

Psychological Science, 27(11):1486-1497, November 2016, (article)

Abstract
Brief verbal descriptions of bodies (e.g. curvy, long-legged) can elicit vivid mental images. The ease with which we create these mental images belies the complexity of three-dimensional body shapes. We explored the relationship between body shapes and body descriptions and show that a small number of words can be used to generate categorically accurate representations of three-dimensional bodies. The dimensions of body shape variation that emerged in a language-based similarity space were related to major dimensions of variation computed directly from three-dimensional laser scans of 2094 bodies. This allowed us to generate three-dimensional models of people in the shape space using only their coordinates on analogous dimensions in the language-based description space. Human descriptions of photographed bodies and their corresponding models matched closely. The natural mapping between the spaces illustrates the role of language as a concise code for body shape, capturing perceptually salient global and local body features.

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


{Body Talk}: Crowdshaping Realistic {3D} Avatars with Words
Body Talk: Crowdshaping Realistic 3D Avatars with Words

Streuber, S., Quiros-Ramirez, M. A., Hill, M. Q., Hahn, C. A., Zuffi, S., O’Toole, A., Black, M. J.

ACM Trans. Graph. (Proc. SIGGRAPH), 35(4):54:1-54:14, July 2016 (article)

Abstract
Realistic, metrically accurate, 3D human avatars are useful for games, shopping, virtual reality, and health applications. Such avatars are not in wide use because solutions for creating them from high-end scanners, low-cost range cameras, and tailoring measurements all have limitations. Here we propose a simple solution and show that it is surprisingly accurate. We use crowdsourcing to generate attribute ratings of 3D body shapes corresponding to standard linguistic descriptions of 3D shape. We then learn a linear function relating these ratings to 3D human shape parameters. Given an image of a new body, we again turn to the crowd for ratings of the body shape. The collection of linguistic ratings of a photograph provides remarkably strong constraints on the metric 3D shape. We call the process crowdshaping and show that our Body Talk system produces shapes that are perceptually indistinguishable from bodies created from high-resolution scans and that the metric accuracy is sufficient for many tasks. This makes body “scanning” practical without a scanner, opening up new applications including database search, visualization, and extracting avatars from books.

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pdf web tool video talk (ppt) [BibTex]

pdf web tool video talk (ppt) [BibTex]


Capturing Hands in Action using Discriminative Salient Points and Physics Simulation
Capturing Hands in Action using Discriminative Salient Points and Physics Simulation

Tzionas, D., Ballan, L., Srikantha, A., Aponte, P., Pollefeys, M., Gall, J.

International Journal of Computer Vision (IJCV), 118(2):172-193, June 2016 (article)

Abstract
Hand motion capture is a popular research field, recently gaining more attention due to the ubiquity of RGB-D sensors. However, even most recent approaches focus on the case of a single isolated hand. In this work, we focus on hands that interact with other hands or objects and present a framework that successfully captures motion in such interaction scenarios for both rigid and articulated objects. Our framework combines a generative model with discriminatively trained salient points to achieve a low tracking error and with collision detection and physics simulation to achieve physically plausible estimates even in case of occlusions and missing visual data. Since all components are unified in a single objective function which is almost everywhere differentiable, it can be optimized with standard optimization techniques. Our approach works for monocular RGB-D sequences as well as setups with multiple synchronized RGB cameras. For a qualitative and quantitative evaluation, we captured 29 sequences with a large variety of interactions and up to 150 degrees of freedom.

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

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


Human Pose Estimation from Video and IMUs
Human Pose Estimation from Video and IMUs

Marcard, T. V., Pons-Moll, G., Rosenhahn, B.

Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence PAMI, 38(8):1533-1547, January 2016 (article)

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data pdf dataset_documentation [BibTex]

data pdf dataset_documentation [BibTex]


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Probabilistic Inference for Determining Options in Reinforcement Learning

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

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

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Moving-horizon Nonlinear Least Squares-based Multirobot Cooperative Perception
Moving-horizon Nonlinear Least Squares-based Multirobot Cooperative Perception

Ahmad, A., Bülthoff, H.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 83, pages: 275-286, 2016 (article)

Abstract
In this article we present an online estimator for multirobot cooperative localization and target tracking based on nonlinear least squares minimization. Our method not only makes the rigorous optimization-based approach applicable online but also allows the estimator to be stable and convergent. We do so by employing a moving horizon technique to nonlinear least squares minimization and a novel design of the arrival cost function that ensures stability and convergence of the estimator. Through an extensive set of real robot experiments, we demonstrate the robustness of our method as well as the optimality of the arrival cost function. The experiments include comparisons of our method with i) an extended Kalman filter-based online-estimator and ii) an offline-estimator based on full-trajectory nonlinear least squares.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Shape estimation of subcutaneous adipose tissue using an articulated statistical shape model
Shape estimation of subcutaneous adipose tissue using an articulated statistical shape model

Yeo, S. Y., Romero, J., Loper, M., Machann, J., Black, M.

Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering: Imaging & Visualization, 0(0):1-8, 2016 (article)

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publisher website preprint pdf link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

publisher website preprint pdf link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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

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

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

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PDF DOI [BibTex]

PDF DOI [BibTex]


The GRASP Taxonomy of Human Grasp Types
The GRASP Taxonomy of Human Grasp Types

Feix, T., Romero, J., Schmiedmayer, H., Dollar, A., Kragic, D.

Human-Machine Systems, IEEE Transactions on, 46(1):66-77, 2016 (article)

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publisher website pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

publisher website pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Map-Based Probabilistic Visual Self-Localization
Map-Based Probabilistic Visual Self-Localization

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

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

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

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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

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

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

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

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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

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

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

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]

2007


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Learning static Gestalt laws through dynamic experience

Ostrovsky, Y., Wulff, J., Sinha, P.

Journal of Vision, 7(9):315-315, ARVO, June 2007 (article)

Abstract
The Gestalt laws (Wertheimer 1923) are widely regarded as the rules that help us parse the world into objects. However, it is unclear as to how these laws are acquired by an infant's visual system. Classically, these “laws” have been presumed to be innate (Kellman and Spelke 1983). But, more recent work in infant development, showing the protracted time-course over which these grouping principles emerge (e.g., Johnson and Aslin 1995; Craton 1996), suggests that visual experience might play a role in their genesis. Specifically, our studies of patients with late-onset vision (Project Prakash; VSS 2006) and evidence from infant development both point to an early role of common motion cues for object grouping. Here we explore the possibility that the privileged status of motion in the developmental timeline is not happenstance, but rather serves to bootstrap the learning of static Gestalt cues. Our approach involves computational analyses of real-world motion sequences to investigate whether primitive optic flow information is correlated with static figural cues that could eventually come to serve as proxies for grouping in the form of Gestalt principles. We calculated local optic flow maps and then examined how similarity of motion across image patches co-varied with similarity of certain figural properties in static frames. Results indicate that patches with similar motion are much more likely to have similar luminance, color, and orientation as compared to patches with dissimilar motion vectors. This regularity suggests that, in principle, common motion extracted from dynamic visual experience can provide enough information to bootstrap region grouping based on luminance and color and contour continuation mechanisms in static scenes. These observations, coupled with the cited experimental studies, lend credence to the hypothesis that static Gestalt laws might be learned through a bootstrapping process based on early dynamic experience.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2007


link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Neuromotor prosthesis development
Neuromotor prosthesis development

Donoghue, J., Hochberg, L., Nurmikko, A., Black, M., Simeral, J., Friehs, G.

Medicine & Health Rhode Island, 90(1):12-15, January 2007 (article)

Abstract
Article describes a neuromotor prosthesis (NMP), in development at Brown University, that records human brain signals, decodes them, and transforms them into movement commands. An NMP is described as a system consisting of a neural interface, a decoding system, and a user interface, also called an effector; a closed-loop system would be completed by a feedback signal from the effector to the brain. The interface is based on neural spiking, a source of information-rich, rapid, complex control signals from the nervous system. The NMP described, named BrainGate, consists of a match-head sized platform with 100 thread-thin electrodes implanted just into the surface of the motor cortex where commands to move the hand emanate. Neural signals are decoded by a rack of computers that displays the resultant output as the motion of a cursor on a computer monitor. While computer cursor motion represents a form of virtual device control, this same command signal could be routed to a device to command motion of paralyzed muscles or the actions of prosthetic limbs. The researchers’ overall goal is the development of a fully implantable, wireless multi-neuron sensor for broad research, neural prosthetic, and human neurodiagnostic applications.

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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The new robotics - towards human-centered machines

Schaal, S.

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

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

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


On the spatial statistics of optical flow
On the spatial statistics of optical flow

Roth, S., Black, M. J.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 74(1):33-50, 2007 (article)

Abstract
We present an analysis of the spatial and temporal statistics of "natural" optical flow fields and a novel flow algorithm that exploits their spatial statistics. Training flow fields are constructed using range images of natural scenes and 3D camera motions recovered from hand-held and car-mounted video sequences. A detailed analysis of optical flow statistics in natural scenes is presented and machine learning methods are developed to learn a Markov random field model of optical flow. The prior probability of a flow field is formulated as a Field-of-Experts model that captures the spatial statistics in overlapping patches and is trained using contrastive divergence. This new optical flow prior is compared with previous robust priors and is incorporated into a recent, accurate algorithm for dense optical flow computation. Experiments with natural and synthetic sequences illustrate how the learned optical flow prior quantitatively improves flow accuracy and how it captures the rich spatial structure found in natural scene motion.

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pdf preprint pdf from publisher [BibTex]

pdf preprint pdf from publisher [BibTex]


Assistive technology and robotic control using {MI} ensemble-based neural interface systems in humans with tetraplegia
Assistive technology and robotic control using MI ensemble-based neural interface systems in humans with tetraplegia

Donoghue, J. P., Nurmikko, A., Black, M. J., Hochberg, L.

Journal of Physiology, Special Issue on Brain Computer Interfaces, 579, pages: 603-611, 2007 (article)

Abstract
This review describes the rationale, early stage development, and initial human application of neural interface systems (NISs) for humans with paralysis. NISs are emerging medical devices designed to allowpersonswith paralysis to operate assistive technologies or to reanimatemuscles based upon a command signal that is obtained directly fromthe brain. Such systems require the development of sensors to detect brain signals, decoders to transformneural activity signals into a useful command, and an interface for the user.We review initial pilot trial results of an NIS that is based on an intracortical microelectrode sensor that derives control signals from the motor cortex.We review recent findings showing, first, that neurons engaged by movement intentions persist in motor cortex years after injury or disease to the motor system, and second, that signals derived from motor cortex can be used by persons with paralysis to operate a range of devices. We suggest that, with further development, this form of NIS holds promise as a useful new neurotechnology for those with limited motor function or communication.We also discuss the additional potential for neural sensors to be used in the diagnosis and management of various neurological conditions and as a new way to learn about human brain function.

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pdf preprint pdf from publisher DOI [BibTex]

pdf preprint pdf from publisher DOI [BibTex]

2006


Bayesian population decoding of motor cortical activity using a {Kalman} filter
Bayesian population decoding of motor cortical activity using a Kalman filter

Wu, W., Gao, Y., Bienenstock, E., Donoghue, J. P., Black, M. J.

Neural Computation, 18(1):80-118, 2006 (article)

Abstract
Effective neural motor prostheses require a method for decoding neural activity representing desired movement. In particular, the accurate reconstruction of a continuous motion signal is necessary for the control of devices such as computer cursors, robots, or a patient's own paralyzed limbs. For such applications, we developed a real-time system that uses Bayesian inference techniques to estimate hand motion from the firing rates of multiple neurons. In this study, we used recordings that were previously made in the arm area of primary motor cortex in awake behaving monkeys using a chronically implanted multielectrode microarray. Bayesian inference involves computing the posterior probability of the hand motion conditioned on a sequence of observed firing rates; this is formulated in terms of the product of a likelihood and a prior. The likelihood term models the probability of firing rates given a particular hand motion. We found that a linear gaussian model could be used to approximate this likelihood and could be readily learned from a small amount of training data. The prior term defines a probabilistic model of hand kinematics and was also taken to be a linear gaussian model. Decoding was performed using a Kalman filter, which gives an efficient recursive method for Bayesian inference when the likelihood and prior are linear and gaussian. In off-line experiments, the Kalman filter reconstructions of hand trajectory were more accurate than previously reported results. The resulting decoding algorithm provides a principled probabilistic model of motor-cortical coding, decodes hand motion in real time, provides an estimate of uncertainty, and is straightforward to implement. Additionally the formulation unifies and extends previous models of neural coding while providing insights into the motor-cortical code.

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pdf preprint pdf from publisher abstract [BibTex]

2006


pdf preprint pdf from publisher abstract [BibTex]

2004


On the variability of manual spike sorting
On the variability of manual spike sorting

Wood, F., Black, M. J., Vargas-Irwin, C., Fellows, M., Donoghue, J. P.

IEEE Trans. Biomedical Engineering, 51(6):912-918, June 2004 (article)

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pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]

2004


pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]


Modeling and decoding motor cortical activity using a switching {Kalman} filter
Modeling and decoding motor cortical activity using a switching Kalman filter

Wu, W., Black, M. J., Mumford, D., Gao, Y., Bienenstock, E., Donoghue, J. P.

IEEE Trans. Biomedical Engineering, 51(6):933-942, June 2004 (article)

Abstract
We present a switching Kalman filter model for the real-time inference of hand kinematics from a population of motor cortical neurons. Firing rates are modeled as a Gaussian mixture where the mean of each Gaussian component is a linear function of hand kinematics. A “hidden state” models the probability of each mixture component and evolves over time in a Markov chain. The model generalizes previous encoding and decoding methods, addresses the non-Gaussian nature of firing rates, and can cope with crudely sorted neural data common in on-line prosthetic applications.

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pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]


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Discovering optimal imitation strategies

Billard, A., Epars, Y., Calinon, S., Cheng, G., Schaal, S.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 47(2-3):68-77, 2004, clmc (article)

Abstract
This paper develops a general policy for learning relevant features of an imitation task. We restrict our study to imitation of manipulative tasks or of gestures. The imitation process is modeled as a hierarchical optimization system, which minimizes the discrepancy between two multi-dimensional datasets. To classify across manipulation strategies, we apply a probabilistic analysis to data in Cartesian and joint spaces. We determine a general metric that optimizes the policy of task reproduction, following strategy determination. The model successfully discovers strategies in six different imitative tasks and controls task reproduction by a full body humanoid robot.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Rhythmic movement is not discrete

Schaal, S., Sternad, D., Osu, R., Kawato, M.

Nature Neuroscience, 7(10):1137-1144, 2004, clmc (article)

Abstract
Rhythmic movements, like walking, chewing, or scratching, are phylogenetically old mo-tor behaviors found in many organisms, ranging from insects to primates. In contrast, discrete movements, like reaching, grasping, or kicking, are behaviors that have reached sophistication primarily in younger species, particularly in primates. Neurophysiological and computational research on arm motor control has focused almost exclusively on dis-crete movements, essentially assuming similar neural circuitry for rhythmic tasks. In con-trast, many behavioral studies focused on rhythmic models, subsuming discrete move-ment as a special case. Here, using a human functional neuroimaging experiment, we show that in addition to areas activated in rhythmic movement, discrete movement in-volves several higher cortical planning areas, despite both movement conditions were confined to the same single wrist joint. These results provide the first neuroscientific evi-dence that rhythmic arm movement cannot be part of a more general discrete movement system, and may require separate neurophysiological and theoretical treatment.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Learning from demonstration and adaptation of biped locomotion

Nakanishi, J., Morimoto, J., Endo, G., Cheng, G., Schaal, S., Kawato, M.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 47(2-3):79-91, 2004, clmc (article)

Abstract
In this paper, we introduce a framework for learning biped locomotion using dynamical movement primitives based on non-linear oscillators. Our ultimate goal is to establish a design principle of a controller in order to achieve natural human-like locomotion. We suggest dynamical movement primitives as a central pattern generator (CPG) of a biped robot, an approach we have previously proposed for learning and encoding complex human movements. Demonstrated trajectories are learned through movement primitives by locally weighted regression, and the frequency of the learned trajectories is adjusted automatically by a novel frequency adaptation algorithmbased on phase resetting and entrainment of coupled oscillators. Numerical simulations and experimental implementation on a physical robot demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed locomotioncontroller.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Feedback error learning and nonlinear adaptive control

Nakanishi, J., Schaal, S.

Neural Networks, 17(10):1453-1465, 2004, clmc (article)

Abstract
In this paper, we present our theoretical investigations of the technique of feedback error learning (FEL) from the viewpoint of adaptive control. We first discuss the relationship between FEL and nonlinear adaptive control with adaptive feedback linearization, and show that FEL can be interpreted as a form of nonlinear adaptive control. Second, we present a Lyapunov analysis suggesting that the condition of strictly positive realness (SPR) associated with the tracking error dynamics is a sufficient condition for asymptotic stability of the closed-loop dynamics. Specifically, for a class of second order SISO systems, we show that this condition reduces to KD^2 > KP; where KP and KD are positive position and velocity feedback gains, respectively. Moreover, we provide a ÔpassivityÕ-based stability analysis which suggests that SPR of the tracking error dynamics is a necessary and sufficient condition for asymptotic hyperstability. Thus, the condition KD^2>KP mentioned above is not only a sufficient but also necessary condition to guarantee asymptotic hyperstability of FEL, i.e. the tracking error is bounded and asymptotically converges to zero. As a further point, we explore the adaptive control and FEL framework for feedforward control formulations, and derive an additional sufficient condition for asymptotic stability in the sense of Lyapunov. Finally, we present numerical simulations to illustrate the stability properties of FEL obtained from our mathematical analysis.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]

2001


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Synchronized robot drumming by neural oscillator

Kotosaka, S., Schaal, S.

Journal of the Robotics Society of Japan, 19(1):116-123, 2001, clmc (article)

Abstract
Sensory-motor integration is one of the key issues in robotics. In this paper, we propose an approach to rhythmic arm movement control that is synchronized with an external signal based on exploiting a simple neural oscillator network. Trajectory generation by the neural oscillator is a biologically inspired method that can allow us to generate a smooth and continuous trajectory. The parameter tuning of the oscillators is used to generate a synchronized movement with wide intervals. We adopted the method for the drumming task as an example task. By using this method, the robot can realize synchronized drumming with wide drumming intervals in real time. The paper also shows the experimental results of drumming by a humanoid robot.

am

[BibTex]

2001


[BibTex]


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Origins and violations of the 2/3 power law in rhythmic 3D movements

Schaal, S., Sternad, D.

Experimental Brain Research, 136, pages: 60-72, 2001, clmc (article)

Abstract
The 2/3 power law, the nonlinear relationship between tangential velocity and radius of curvature of the endeffector trajectory, has been suggested as a fundamental constraint of the central nervous system in the formation of rhythmic endpoint trajectories. However, studies on the 2/3 power law have largely been confined to planar drawing patterns of relatively small size. With the hypothesis that this strategy overlooks nonlinear effects that are constitutive in movement generation, the present experiments tested the validity of the power law in elliptical patterns which were not confined to a planar surface and which were performed by the unconstrained 7-DOF arm with significant variations in pattern size and workspace orientation. Data were recorded from five human subjects where the seven joint angles and the endpoint trajectories were analyzed. Additionally, an anthropomorphic 7-DOF robot arm served as a "control subject" whose endpoint trajectories were generated on the basis of the human joint angle data, modeled as simple harmonic oscillations. Analyses of the endpoint trajectories demonstrate that the power law is systematically violated with increasing pattern size, in both exponent and the goodness of fit. The origins of these violations can be explained analytically based on smooth rhythmic trajectory formation and the kinematic structure of the human arm. We conclude that in unconstrained rhythmic movements, the power law seems to be a by-product of a movement system that favors smooth trajectories, and that it is unlikely to serve as a primary movement generating principle. Our data rather suggests that subjects employed smooth oscillatory pattern generators in joint space to realize the required movement patterns.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Graph-matching vs. entropy-based methods for object detection
Neural Networks, 14(3):345-354, 2001, clmc (article)

Abstract
Labeled Graph Matching (LGM) has been shown successful in numerous ob-ject vision tasks. This method is the basis for arguably the best face recognition system in the world. We present an algorithm for visual pattern recognition that is an extension of LGM ("LGM+"). We compare the performance of LGM and LGM+ algorithms with a state of the art statistical method based on Mutual Information Maximization (MIM). We present an adaptation of the MIM method for multi-dimensional Gabor wavelet features. The three pattern recognition methods were evaluated on an object detection task, using a set of stimuli on which none of the methods had been tested previously. The results indicate that while the performance of the MIM method operating upon Gabor wavelets is superior to the same method operating on pixels and to LGM, it is surpassed by LGM+. LGM+ offers a significant improvement in performance over LGM without losing LGMâ??s virtues of simplicity, biological plausibility, and a computational cost that is 2-3 orders of magnitude lower than that of the MIM algorithm. 

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Biomimetic gaze stabilization based on feedback-error learning with nonparametric regression networks

Shibata, T., Schaal, S.

Neural Networks, 14(2):201-216, 2001, clmc (article)

Abstract
Oculomotor control in a humanoid robot faces similar problems as biological oculomotor systems, i.e. the stabilization of gaze in face of unknown perturbations of the body, selective attention, stereo vision, and dealing with large information processing delays. Given the nonlinearities of the geometry of binocular vision as well as the possible nonlinearities of the oculomotor plant, it is desirable to accomplish accurate control of these behaviors through learning approaches. This paper develops a learning control system for the phylogenetically oldest behaviors of oculomotor control, the stabilization reflexes of gaze. In a step-wise procedure, we demonstrate how control theoretic reasonable choices of control components result in an oculomotor control system that resembles the known functional anatomy of the primate oculomotor system. The core of the learning system is derived from the biologically inspired principle of feedback-error learning combined with a state-of-the-art non-parametric statistical learning network. With this circuitry, we demonstrate that our humanoid robot is able to acquire high performance visual stabilization reflexes after about 40 s of learning despite significant nonlinearities and processing delays in the system.

am

link (url) [BibTex]


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Fast learning of biomimetic oculomotor control with nonparametric regression networks (in Japanese)

Shibata, T., Schaal, S.

Journal of the Robotics Society of Japan, 19(4):468-479, 2001, clmc (article)

am

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Bouncing a ball: Tuning into dynamic stability

Sternad, D., Duarte, M., Katsumata, H., Schaal, S.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 27(5):1163-1184, 2001, clmc (article)

Abstract
Rhythmically bouncing a ball with a racket was investigated and modeled with a nonlinear map. Model analyses provided a variable defining a dynamically stable solution that obviates computationally expensive corrections. Three experiments evaluated whether dynamic stability is optimized and what perceptual support is necessary for stable behavior. Two hypotheses were tested: (a) Performance is stable if racket acceleration is negative at impact, and (b) variability is lowest at an impact acceleration between -4 and -1 m/s2. In Experiment 1 participants performed the task, eyes open or closed, bouncing a ball confined to a 1-dimensional trajectory. Experiment 2 eliminated constraints on racket and ball trajectory. Experiment 3 excluded visual or haptic information. Movements were performed with negative racket accelerations in the range of highest stability. Performance with eyes closed was more variable, leaving acceleration unaffected. With haptic information, performance was more stable than with visual information alone.

am

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Biomimetic oculomotor control

Shibata, T., Vijayakumar, S., Conradt, J., Schaal, S.

Adaptive Behavior, 9(3/4):189-207, 2001, clmc (article)

Abstract
Oculomotor control in a humanoid robot faces similar problems as biological oculomotor systems, i.e., capturing targets accurately on a very narrow fovea, dealing with large delays in the control system, the stabilization of gaze in face of unknown perturbations of the body, selective attention, and the complexity of stereo vision. In this paper, we suggest control circuits to realize three of the most basic oculomotor behaviors and their integration - the vestibulo-ocular and optokinetic reflex (VOR-OKR) for gaze stabilization, smooth pursuit for tracking moving objects, and saccades for overt visual attention. Each of these behaviors and the mechanism for their integration was derived with inspiration from computational theories as well as behavioral and physiological data in neuroscience. Our implementations on a humanoid robot demonstrate good performance of the oculomotor behaviors, which proves to be a viable strategy to explore novel control mechanisms for humanoid robotics. Conversely, insights gained from our models have been able to directly influence views and provide new directions for computational neuroscience research.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]

1996


Estimating optical flow in segmented images using variable-order parametric models with local deformations
Estimating optical flow in segmented images using variable-order parametric models with local deformations

Black, M. J., Jepson, A.

IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 18(10):972-986, October 1996 (article)

Abstract
This paper presents a new model for estimating optical flow based on the motion of planar regions plus local deformations. The approach exploits brightness information to organize and constrain the interpretation of the motion by using segmented regions of piecewise smooth brightness to hypothesize planar regions in the scene. Parametric flow models are estimated in these regions in a two step process which first computes a coarse fit and estimates the appropriate parameterization of the motion of the region (two, six, or eight parameters). The initial fit is refined using a generalization of the standard area-based regression approaches. Since the assumption of planarity is likely to be violated, we allow local deformations from the planar assumption in the same spirit as physically-based approaches which model shape using coarse parametric models plus local deformations. This parametric+deformation model exploits the strong constraints of parametric approaches while retaining the adaptive nature of regularization approaches. Experimental results on a variety of images indicate that the parametric+deformation model produces accurate flow estimates while the incorporation of brightness segmentation provides precise localization of motion boundaries.

ps

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]

1996


pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]


On the unification of line processes, outlier rejection, and robust statistics with applications in early vision
On the unification of line processes, outlier rejection, and robust statistics with applications in early vision

Black, M., Rangarajan, A.

International Journal of Computer Vision , 19(1):57-92, July 1996 (article)

Abstract
The modeling of spatial discontinuities for problems such as surface recovery, segmentation, image reconstruction, and optical flow has been intensely studied in computer vision. While “line-process” models of discontinuities have received a great deal of attention, there has been recent interest in the use of robust statistical techniques to account for discontinuities. This paper unifies the two approaches. To achieve this we generalize the notion of a “line process” to that of an analog “outlier process” and show how a problem formulated in terms of outlier processes can be viewed in terms of robust statistics. We also characterize a class of robust statistical problems for which an equivalent outlier-process formulation exists and give a straightforward method for converting a robust estimation problem into an outlier-process formulation. We show how prior assumptions about the spatial structure of outliers can be expressed as constraints on the recovered analog outlier processes and how traditional continuation methods can be extended to the explicit outlier-process formulation. These results indicate that the outlier-process approach provides a general framework which subsumes the traditional line-process approaches as well as a wide class of robust estimation problems. Examples in surface reconstruction, image segmentation, and optical flow are presented to illustrate the use of outlier processes and to show how the relationship between outlier processes and robust statistics can be exploited. An appendix provides a catalog of common robust error norms and their equivalent outlier-process formulations.

ps

pdf pdf from publisher DOI [BibTex]


The robust estimation of multiple motions: Parametric and piecewise-smooth flow fields
The robust estimation of multiple motions: Parametric and piecewise-smooth flow fields

Black, M. J., Anandan, P.

Computer Vision and Image Understanding, 63(1):75-104, January 1996 (article)

Abstract
Most approaches for estimating optical flow assume that, within a finite image region, only a single motion is present. This single motion assumption is violated in common situations involving transparency, depth discontinuities, independently moving objects, shadows, and specular reflections. To robustly estimate optical flow, the single motion assumption must be relaxed. This paper presents a framework based on robust estimation that addresses violations of the brightness constancy and spatial smoothness assumptions caused by multiple motions. We show how the robust estimation framework can be applied to standard formulations of the optical flow problem thus reducing their sensitivity to violations of their underlying assumptions. The approach has been applied to three standard techniques for recovering optical flow: area-based regression, correlation, and regularization with motion discontinuities. This paper focuses on the recovery of multiple parametric motion models within a region, as well as the recovery of piecewise-smooth flow fields, and provides examples with natural and synthetic image sequences.

ps

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]


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A Kendama learning robot based on bi-directional theory

Miyamoto, H., Schaal, S., Gandolfo, F., Koike, Y., Osu, R., Nakano, E., Wada, Y., Kawato, M.

Neural Networks, 9(8):1281-1302, 1996, clmc (article)

Abstract
A general theory of movement-pattern perception based on bi-directional theory for sensory-motor integration can be used for motion capture and learning by watching in robotics. We demonstrate our methods using the game of Kendama, executed by the SARCOS Dextrous Slave Arm, which has a very similar kinematic structure to the human arm. Three ingredients have to be integrated for the successful execution of this task. The ingredients are (1) to extract via-points from a human movement trajectory using a forward-inverse relaxation model, (2) to treat via-points as a control variable while reconstructing the desired trajectory from all the via-points, and (3) to modify the via-points for successful execution. In order to test the validity of the via-point representation, we utilized a numerical model of the SARCOS arm, and examined the behavior of the system under several conditions.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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One-handed juggling: A dynamical approach to a rhythmic movement task

Schaal, S., Sternad, D., Atkeson, C. G.

Journal of Motor Behavior, 28(2):165-183, 1996, clmc (article)

Abstract
The skill of rhythmic juggling a ball on a racket is investigated from the viewpoint of nonlinear dynamics. The difference equations that model the dynamical system are analyzed by means of local and non-local stability analyses. These analyses yield that the task dynamics offer an economical juggling pattern which is stable even for open-loop actuator motion. For this pattern, two types of pre dictions are extracted: (i) Stable periodic bouncing is sufficiently characterized by a negative acceleration of the racket at the moment of impact with the ball; (ii) A nonlinear scaling relation maps different juggling trajectories onto one topologically equivalent dynamical system. The relevance of these results for the human control of action was evaluated in an experiment where subjects performed a comparable task of juggling a ball on a paddle. Task manipulations involved different juggling heights and gravity conditions of the ball. The predictions were confirmed: (i) For stable rhythmic performance the paddle's acceleration at impact is negative and fluctuations of the impact acceleration follow predictions from global stability analysis; (ii) For each subject, the realizations of juggling for the different experimental conditions are related by the scaling relation. These results allow the conclusion that for the given task, humans reliably exploit the stable solutions inherent to the dynamics of the task and do not overrule these dynamics by other control mechanisms. The dynamical scaling serves as an efficient principle to generate different movement realizations from only a few parameter changes and is discussed as a dynamical formalization of the principle of motor equivalence.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]