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2020


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Vision-based Force Estimation for a da Vinci Instrument Using Deep Neural Networks

Lee, Y., Husin, H. M., Forte, M. P., Lee, S., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Extended abstract presented as an Emerging Technology ePoster at the Annual Meeting of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), Cleveland, Ohio, USA, April 2020 (misc) Accepted

hi

[BibTex]

2020


[BibTex]


Do touch gestures affect how electrovibration feels?
Do touch gestures affect how electrovibration feels?

Vardar, Y., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Hands-on demonstration (1 page) presented at IEEE Haptics Symposium, March 2020 (misc) Accepted

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Learning to Predict Perceptual Distributions of Haptic Adjectives
Learning to Predict Perceptual Distributions of Haptic Adjectives

Richardson, B. A., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Frontiers in Neurorobotics, 13(116):1-16, Febuary 2020 (article)

Abstract
When humans touch an object with their fingertips, they can immediately describe its tactile properties using haptic adjectives, such as hardness and roughness; however, human perception is subjective and noisy, with significant variation across individuals and interactions. Recent research has worked to provide robots with similar haptic intelligence but was focused on identifying binary haptic adjectives, ignoring both attribute intensity and perceptual variability. Combining ordinal haptic adjective labels gathered from human subjects for a set of 60 objects with features automatically extracted from raw multi-modal tactile data collected by a robot repeatedly touching the same objects, we designed a machine-learning method that incorporates partial knowledge of the distribution of object labels into training; then, from a single interaction, it predicts a probability distribution over the set of ordinal labels. In addition to analyzing the collected labels (10 basic haptic adjectives) and demonstrating the quality of our method's predictions, we hold out specific features to determine the influence of individual sensor modalities on the predictive performance for each adjective. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of modeling both the intensity and the variation of haptic perception, two crucial yet previously neglected components of human haptic perception.

hi

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Exercising with Baxter: preliminary support for assistive social-physical human-robot interaction

Fitter, N. T., Mohan, M., Kuchenbecker, K. J., Johnson, M. J.

Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 17(19), Febuary 2020 (article)

Abstract
Background: The worldwide population of older adults will soon exceed the capacity of assisted living facilities. Accordingly, we aim to understand whether appropriately designed robots could help older adults stay active at home. Methods: Building on related literature as well as guidance from experts in game design, rehabilitation, and physical and occupational therapy, we developed eight human-robot exercise games for the Baxter Research Robot, six of which involve physical human-robot contact. After extensive iteration, these games were tested in an exploratory user study including 20 younger adult and 20 older adult users. Results: Only socially and physically interactive games fell in the highest ranges for pleasantness, enjoyment, engagement, cognitive challenge, and energy level. Our games successfully spanned three different physical, cognitive, and temporal challenge levels. User trust and confidence in Baxter increased significantly between pre- and post-study assessments. Older adults experienced higher exercise, energy, and engagement levels than younger adults, and women rated the robot more highly than men on several survey questions. Conclusions: The results indicate that social-physical exercise with a robot is more pleasant, enjoyable, engaging, cognitively challenging, and energetic than similar interactions that lack physical touch. In addition to this main finding, researchers working in similar areas can build on our design practices, our open-source resources, and the age-group and gender differences that we found.

hi

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Sliding Mode Control with Gaussian Process Regression for Underwater Robots

Lima, G. S., Trimpe, S., Bessa, W. M.

Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, January 2020 (article)

ics

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Hierarchical Event-triggered Learning for Cyclically Excited Systems with Application to Wireless Sensor Networks
Hierarchical Event-triggered Learning for Cyclically Excited Systems with Application to Wireless Sensor Networks

Beuchert, J., Solowjow, F., Raisch, J., Trimpe, S., Seel, T.

IEEE Control Systems Letters, 4(1):103-108, January 2020 (article)

ics

arXiv PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Learning Multi-Human Optical Flow
Learning Multi-Human Optical Flow

Ranjan, A., Hoffmann, D. T., Tzionas, D., Tang, S., Romero, J., Black, M. J.

International Journal of Computer Vision (IJCV), January 2020 (article)

Abstract
The optical flow of humans is well known to be useful for the analysis of human action. Recent optical flow methods focus on training deep networks to approach the problem. However, the training data used by them does not cover the domain of human motion. Therefore, we develop a dataset of multi-human optical flow and train optical flow networks on this dataset. We use a 3D model of the human body and motion capture data to synthesize realistic flow fields in both single-and multi-person images. We then train optical flow networks to estimate human flow fields from pairs of images. We demonstrate that our trained networks are more accurate than a wide range of top methods on held-out test data and that they can generalize well to real image sequences. The code, trained models and the dataset are available for research.

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Paper Publisher Version poster link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Control-guided Communication: Efficient Resource Arbitration and Allocation in Multi-hop Wireless Control Systems
Control-guided Communication: Efficient Resource Arbitration and Allocation in Multi-hop Wireless Control Systems

Baumann, D., Mager, F., Zimmerling, M., Trimpe, S.

IEEE Control Systems Letters, 4(1):127-132, January 2020 (article)

ics

arXiv PDF DOI [BibTex]

arXiv PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Self-supervised motion deblurring

Liu, P., Janai, J., Pollefeys, M., Sattler, T., Geiger, A.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2020 (article)

avg

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Effect of the soft layer thickness of magnetization reversal process of exchange-spring nanomagnet patterns

Son, K., Schütz, G., Goering, E.

{Current Applied Physics}, 20(4):477-483, Elsevier B.V., Amsterdam, 2020 (article)

mms

DOI [BibTex]


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Tuning the magnetic properties of permalloy-based magnetoplasmonic crystals for sensor applications

Murzin, D. V., Belyaev, V. K., Groß, F., Gräfe, J., Rivas, M., Rodionova, V. V.

{Japanese Journal of Applied Physics}, 59(SE), IOP Publishing Ltd, Bristol, England, 2020 (article)

mms

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Element-resolved study of the evolution of magnetic response in FexN compounds

Chen, Y., Gölden, D., Dirba, I., Huang, M., Gutfleisch, O., Nagel, P., Merz, M., Schuppler, S., Schütz, G., Alff, L., Goering, E.

{Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials}, 498, NH, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2020 (article)

mms

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Controlling two-dimensional collective formation and cooperative behavior of magnetic microrobot swarms
Controlling two-dimensional collective formation and cooperative behavior of magnetic microrobot swarms

Dong, X., Sitti, M.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 2020 (article)

Abstract
Magnetically actuated mobile microrobots can access distant, enclosed, and small spaces, such as inside microfluidic channels and the human body, making them appealing for minimally invasive tasks. Despite their simplicity when scaling down, creating collective microrobots that can work closely and cooperatively, as well as reconfigure their formations for different tasks, would significantly enhance their capabilities such as manipulation of objects. However, a challenge of realizing such cooperative magnetic microrobots is to program and reconfigure their formations and collective motions with under-actuated control signals. This article presents a method of controlling 2D static and time-varying formations among collective self-repelling ferromagnetic microrobots (100 μm to 350 μm in diameter, up to 260 in number) by spatially and temporally programming an external magnetic potential energy distribution at the air–water interface or on solid surfaces. A general design method is introduced to program external magnetic potential energy using ferromagnets. A predictive model of the collective system is also presented to predict the formation and guide the design procedure. With the proposed method, versatile complex static formations are experimentally demonstrated and the programmability and scaling effects of formations are analyzed. We also demonstrate the collective mobility of these magnetic microrobots by controlling them to exhibit bio-inspired collective behaviors such as aggregation, directional motion with arbitrary swarm headings, and rotational swarming motion. Finally, the functions of the produced microrobotic swarm are demonstrated by controlling them to navigate through cluttered environments and complete reconfigurable cooperative manipulation tasks.

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DOI [BibTex]


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The role of temperature and drive current in skyrmion dynamics

Litzius, K., Leliaert, J., Bassirian, P., Rodrigues, D., Kromin, S., Lemesh, I., Zazvorka, J., Lee, K., Mulkers, J., Kerber, N., Heinze, D., Keil, N., Reeve, R. M., Weigand, M., Van Waeyenberge, B., Schütz, G., Everschor-Sitte, K., Beach, G. S. D., Kläui, M.

{Nature Electronics}, 3(1):30-36, Springer Nature, London, 2020 (article)

mms

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Magnetic flux penetration into micron-sized superconductor/ferromagnet bilayers

Simmendinger, J., Weigand, M., Schütz, G., Albrecht, J.

{Superconductor Science and Technology}, 33(2), IOP Pub., Bristol, 2020 (article)

mms

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Analytical classical density functionals from an equation learning network

Lin, S., Martius, G., Oettel, M.

The Journal of Chemical Physics, 152(2):021102, 2020, arXiv preprint \url{https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.12752} (article)

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Preprint_PDF DOI [BibTex]

Preprint_PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Fabrication and temperature-dependent magnetic properties of large-area L10-FePt/Co exchange-spring magnet nanopatterns

Son, K., Schütz, G.

{Physica E: Low-Dimensional Systems And Nanostructures}, 115, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 2020 (article)

mms

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


General Movement Assessment from videos of computed {3D} infant body models is equally effective compared to conventional {RGB} Video rating
General Movement Assessment from videos of computed 3D infant body models is equally effective compared to conventional RGB Video rating

Schroeder, S., Hesse, N., Weinberger, R., Tacke, U., Gerstl, L., Hilgendorff, A., Heinen, F., Arens, M., Bodensteiner, C., Dijkstra, L. J., Pujades, S., Black, M., Hadders-Algra, M.

Early Human Development, 2020 (article)

Abstract
Background: General Movement Assessment (GMA) is a powerful tool to predict Cerebral Palsy (CP). Yet, GMA requires substantial training hampering its implementation in clinical routine. This inspired a world-wide quest for automated GMA. Aim: To test whether a low-cost, marker-less system for three-dimensional motion capture from RGB depth sequences using a whole body infant model may serve as the basis for automated GMA. Study design: Clinical case study at an academic neurodevelopmental outpatient clinic. Subjects: Twenty-nine high-risk infants were recruited and assessed at their clinical follow-up at 2-4 month corrected age (CA). Their neurodevelopmental outcome was assessed regularly up to 12-31 months CA. Outcome measures: GMA according to Hadders-Algra by a masked GMA-expert of conventional and computed 3D body model (“SMIL motion”) videos of the same GMs. Agreement between both GMAs was assessed, and sensitivity and specificity of both methods to predict CP at ≥12 months CA. Results: The agreement of the two GMA ratings was substantial, with κ=0.66 for the classification of definitely abnormal (DA) GMs and an ICC of 0.887 (95% CI 0.762;0.947) for a more detailed GM-scoring. Five children were diagnosed with CP (four bilateral, one unilateral CP). The GMs of the child with unilateral CP were twice rated as mildly abnormal. DA-ratings of both videos predicted bilateral CP well: sensitivity 75% and 100%, specificity 88% and 92% for conventional and SMIL motion videos, respectively. Conclusions: Our computed infant 3D full body model is an attractive starting point for automated GMA in infants at risk of CP.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Electronics, Software and Analysis of a Bioinspired Sensorized Quadrupedal Robot
Electronics, Software and Analysis of a Bioinspired Sensorized Quadrupedal Robot

Petereit, R.

Technische Universität München, 2020 (mastersthesis)

dlg

[BibTex]


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Visual-Inertial Mapping with Non-Linear Factor Recovery

Usenko, V., Demmel, N., Schubert, D., Stückler, J., Cremers, D.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L), 5, 2020, accepted for presentation at IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2020, to appear, arXiv:1904.06504 (article)

Abstract
Cameras and inertial measurement units are complementary sensors for ego-motion estimation and environment mapping. Their combination makes visual-inertial odometry (VIO) systems more accurate and robust. For globally consistent mapping, however, combining visual and inertial information is not straightforward. To estimate the motion and geometry with a set of images large baselines are required. Because of that, most systems operate on keyframes that have large time intervals between each other. Inertial data on the other hand quickly degrades with the duration of the intervals and after several seconds of integration, it typically contains only little useful information. In this paper, we propose to extract relevant information for visual-inertial mapping from visual-inertial odometry using non-linear factor recovery. We reconstruct a set of non-linear factors that make an optimal approximation of the information on the trajectory accumulated by VIO. To obtain a globally consistent map we combine these factors with loop-closing constraints using bundle adjustment. The VIO factors make the roll and pitch angles of the global map observable, and improve the robustness and the accuracy of the mapping. In experiments on a public benchmark, we demonstrate superior performance of our method over the state-of-the-art approaches.

ev

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Trunk pitch oscillations for energy trade-offs in bipedal running birds and robots
Trunk pitch oscillations for energy trade-offs in bipedal running birds and robots

Oezge Drama, , Badri-Spröwitz, A.

Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 2020 (article)

Abstract
Bipedal animals have diverse morphologies and advanced locomotion abilities. Terrestrial birds, in particular, display agile, efficient, and robust running motion, in which they exploit the interplay between the body segment masses and moment of inertias. On the other hand, most legged robots are not able to generate such versatile and energy-efficient motion and often disregard trunk movements as a means to enhance their locomotion capabilities. Recent research investigated how trunk motions affect the gait characteristics of humans, but there is a lack of analysis across different bipedal morphologies. To address this issue, we analyze avian running based on a spring-loaded inverted pendulum model with a pronograde (horizontal) trunk. We use a virtual point based control scheme and modify the alignment of the ground reaction forces to assess how our control strategy influences the trunk pitch oscillations and energetics of the locomotion. We derive three potential key strategies to leverage trunk pitch motions that minimize either the energy fluctuations of the center of mass or the work performed by the hip and leg. We suggest how these strategies could be used in legged robotics.

dlg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Spatial Scheduling of Informative Meetings for Multi-Agent Persistent Coverage
Spatial Scheduling of Informative Meetings for Multi-Agent Persistent Coverage

Haksar, R. N., Trimpe, S., Schwager, M.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2020 (article) Accepted

ics

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Thermal nucleation and high-resolution imaging of submicrometer magnetic bubbles in thin thulium iron garnet films with perpendicular anisotropy

Büttner, F., Mawass, M. A., Bauer, J., Rosenberg, E., Caretta, L., Avci, C. O., Gräfe, J., Finizio, S., Vaz, C. A. F., Novakovic, N., Weigand, M., Litzius, K., Förster, J., Träger, N., Groß, F., Suzuki, D., Huang, M., Bartell, J., Kronast, F., Raabe, J., Schütz, G., Ross, C. A., Beach, G. S. D.

{Physical Review Materials}, 4(1), American Physical Society, College Park, MD, 2020 (article)

mms

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Safe and Fast Tracking on a Robot Manipulator: Robust MPC and Neural Network Control
Safe and Fast Tracking on a Robot Manipulator: Robust MPC and Neural Network Control

Nubert, J., Koehler, J., Berenz, V., Allgower, F., Trimpe, S.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2020 (article) Accepted

Abstract
Fast feedback control and safety guarantees are essential in modern robotics. We present an approach that achieves both by combining novel robust model predictive control (MPC) with function approximation via (deep) neural networks (NNs). The result is a new approach for complex tasks with nonlinear, uncertain, and constrained dynamics as are common in robotics. Specifically, we leverage recent results in MPC research to propose a new robust setpoint tracking MPC algorithm, which achieves reliable and safe tracking of a dynamic setpoint while guaranteeing stability and constraint satisfaction. The presented robust MPC scheme constitutes a one-layer approach that unifies the often separated planning and control layers, by directly computing the control command based on a reference and possibly obstacle positions. As a separate contribution, we show how the computation time of the MPC can be drastically reduced by approximating the MPC law with a NN controller. The NN is trained and validated from offline samples of the MPC, yielding statistical guarantees, and used in lieu thereof at run time. Our experiments on a state-of-the-art robot manipulator are the first to show that both the proposed robust and approximate MPC schemes scale to real-world robotic systems.

am ics

arXiv PDF DOI [BibTex]

arXiv PDF DOI [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.

am ics

PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2016


PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Skinned multi-person linear model
Skinned multi-person linear model

Black, M.J., Loper, M., Mahmood, N., Pons-Moll, G., Romero, J.

December 2016, Application PCT/EP2016/064610 (misc)

Abstract
The invention comprises a learned model of human body shape and pose dependent shape variation that is more accurate than previous models and is compatible with existing graphics pipelines. Our Skinned Multi-Person Linear model (SMPL) is a skinned vertex based model that accurately represents a wide variety of body shapes in natural human poses. The parameters of the model are learned from data including the rest pose template, blend weights, pose-dependent blend shapes, identity- dependent blend shapes, and a regressor from vertices to joint locations. Unlike previous models, the pose-dependent blend shapes are a linear function of the elements of the pose rotation matrices. This simple formulation enables training the entire model from a relatively large number of aligned 3D meshes of different people in different poses. The invention quantitatively evaluates variants of SMPL using linear or dual- quaternion blend skinning and show that both are more accurate than a Blend SCAPE model trained on the same data. In a further embodiment, the invention realistically models dynamic soft-tissue deformations. Because it is based on blend skinning, SMPL is compatible with existing rendering engines and we make it available for research purposes.

ps

Google Patents [BibTex]

Google Patents [BibTex]


Wireless actuation with functional acoustic surfaces
Wireless actuation with functional acoustic surfaces

Qiu, T., Palagi, S., Mark, A. G., Melde, K., Adams, F., Fischer, P.

Appl. Phys. Lett., 109(19):191602, November 2016, APL Editor's pick. APL News. (article)

Abstract
Miniaturization calls for micro-actuators that can be powered wirelessly and addressed individually. Here, we develop functional surfaces consisting of arrays of acoustically resonant microcavities, and we demonstrate their application as two-dimensional wireless actuators. When remotely powered by an acoustic field, the surfaces provide highly directional propulsive forces in fluids through acoustic streaming. A maximal force of similar to 0.45mN is measured on a 4 x 4 mm(2) functional surface. The response of the surfaces with bubbles of different sizes is characterized experimentally. This shows a marked peak around the micro-bubbles' resonance frequency, as estimated by both an analytical model and numerical simulations. The strong frequency dependence can be exploited to address different surfaces with different acoustic frequencies, thus achieving wireless actuation with multiple degrees of freedom. The use of the functional surfaces as wireless ready-to-attach actuators is demonstrated by implementing a wireless and bidirectional miniaturized rotary motor, which is 2.6 x 2.6 x 5 mm(3) in size and generates a stall torque of similar to 0.5 mN.mm. The adoption of micro-structured surfaces as wireless actuators opens new possibilities in the development of miniaturized devices and tools for fluidic environments that are accessible by low intensity ultrasound fields.

pf

link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Bioengineered and biohybrid bacteria-based systems for drug delivery
Bioengineered and biohybrid bacteria-based systems for drug delivery

Hosseinidoust, Z., Mostaghaci, B., Yasa, O., Park, B., Singh, A. V., Sitti, M.

Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 106, pages: 27-44, Elsevier, November 2016 (article)

Abstract
The use of bacterial cells as agents of medical therapy has a long history. Research that was ignited over a century ago with the accidental infection of cancer patients has matured into a platform technology that offers the promise of opening up new potential frontiers in medical treatment. Bacterial cells exhibit unique characteristics that make them well-suited as smart drug delivery agents. Our ability to genetically manipulate the molecular machinery of these cells enables the customization of their therapeutic action as well as its precise tuning and spatio-temporal control, allowing for the design of unique, complex therapeutic functions, unmatched by current drug delivery systems. Early results have been promising, but there are still many important challenges that must be addressed. We present a review of promises and challenges of employing bioengineered bacteria in drug delivery systems and introduce the biohybrid design concept as a new additional paradigm in bacteria-based drug delivery.

pi

DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Nanomotors
Nanomotors

Alarcon-Correa, M., Walker (Schamel), D., Qiu, T., Fischer, P.

Eur. Phys. J.-Special Topics, 225(11-12):2241-2254, November 2016 (article)

Abstract
This minireview discusses whether catalytically active macromolecules and abiotic nanocolloids, that are smaller than motile bacteria, can self-propel. Kinematic reversibility at low Reynolds number demands that self-propelling colloids must break symmetry. Methods that permit the synthesis and fabrication of Janus nanocolloids are therefore briefly surveyed, as well as means that permit the analysis of the nanocolloids' motion. Finally, recent work is reviewed which shows that nanoagents are small enough to penetrate the complex inhomogeneous polymeric network of biological fluids and gels, which exhibit diverse rheological behaviors.

pf

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [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]


Structured light enables biomimetic swimming and versatile locomotion of photoresponsive soft microrobots
Structured light enables biomimetic swimming and versatile locomotion of photoresponsive soft microrobots

Palagi, S., Mark, A. G., Reigh, S. Y., Melde, K., Qiu, T., Zeng, H., Parmeggiani, C., Martella, D., Sanchez-Castillo, A., Kapernaum, N., Giesselmann, F., Wiersma, D. S., Lauga, E., Fischer, P.

Nature Materials, 15(6):647–653, November 2016, Max Planck press release, Nature News & Views. (article)

Abstract
Microorganisms move in challenging environments by periodic changes in body shape. In contrast, current artificial microrobots cannot actively deform, exhibiting at best passive bending under external fields. Here, by taking advantage of the wireless, scalable and spatiotemporally selective capabilities that light allows, we show that soft microrobots consisting of photoactive liquid-crystal elastomers can be driven by structured monochromatic light to perform sophisticated biomimetic motions. We realize continuum yet selectively addressable artificial microswimmers that generate travelling-wave motions to self-propel without external forces or torques, as well as microrobots capable of versatile locomotion behaviours on demand. Both theoretical predictions and experimental results confirm that multiple gaits, mimicking either symplectic or antiplectic metachrony of ciliate protozoa, can be achieved with single microswimmers. The principle of using structured light can be extended to other applications that require microscale actuation with sophisticated spatiotemporal coordination for advanced microrobotic technologies.

pf

Video - Soft photo Micro-Swimmer DOI [BibTex]

Video - Soft photo Micro-Swimmer DOI [BibTex]


A 5-D localization method for a magnetically manipulated untethered robot using a 2-D array of Hall-effect sensors
A 5-D localization method for a magnetically manipulated untethered robot using a 2-D array of Hall-effect sensors

Son, D., Yim, S., Sitti, M.

IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 21(2):708-716, IEEE, October 2016 (article)

Abstract
This paper introduces a new five-dimensional localization method for an untethered meso-scale magnetic robot, which is manipulated by a computer-controlled electromagnetic system. The developed magnetic localization setup is a two-dimensional array of mono-axial Hall-effect sensors, which measure the perpendicular magnetic fields at their given positions. We introduce two steps for localizing a magnetic robot more accurately. First, the dipole modeled magnetic field of the electromagnet is subtracted from the measured data in order to determine the robot's magnetic field. Secondly, the subtracted magnetic field is twice differentiated in the perpendicular direction of the array, so that the effect of the electromagnetic field in the localization process is minimized. Five variables regarding the position and orientation of the robot are determined by minimizing the error between the measured magnetic field and the modeled magnetic field in an optimization method. The resulting position error is 2.1±0.8 mm and angular error is 6.7±4.3° within the applicable range (5 cm) of magnetic field sensors at 200 Hz. The proposed localization method would be used for the position feedback control of untethered magnetic devices or robots for medical applications in the future.

pi

DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


High-Performance Multiresponsive Paper Actuators
High-Performance Multiresponsive Paper Actuators

Amjadi, M., Sitti, M.

ACS Nano, 10(11):10202-10210, American Chemical Society, October 2016 (article)

Abstract
There is an increasing demand for soft actuators because of their importance in soft robotics, artificial muscles, biomimetic devices, and beyond. However, the development of soft actuators capable of low-voltage operation, powerful actuation, and programmable shape-changing is still challenging. In this work, we propose programmable bilayer actuators that operate based on the large hygroscopic contraction of the copy paper and simultaneously large thermal expansion of the polypropylene film upon increasing the temperature. The electrothermally activated bending actuators can function with low voltages (≤ 8 V), low input electric power per area (P ≤ 0.14 W cm–2), and low temperature changes (≤ 35 °C). They exhibit reversible shape-changing behavior with curvature radii up to 1.07 cm–1 and bending angle of 360°, accompanied by powerful actuation. Besides the electrical activation, they can be powered by humidity or light irradiation. We finally demonstrate the use of our paper actuators as a soft gripper robot and a lightweight paper wing for aerial robotics.

pi

DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Programmable assembly of heterogeneous microparts by an untethered mobile capillary microgripper
Programmable assembly of heterogeneous microparts by an untethered mobile capillary microgripper

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

Lab on a Chip, 16(22):4445-4457, Royal Society of Chemistry, October 2016 (article)

Abstract
At the sub-millimeter scale, capillary forces enable robust and reversible adhesion between biological organisms and varied substrates. Current human-engineered mobile untethered micromanipulation systems rely on forces which scale poorly or utilize gripper-part designs that promote manipulation. Capillary forces, alternatively, are dependent upon the surface chemistry (which is scale independent) and contact perimeter, which conforms to the part surface. We report a mobile capillary microgripper that is able to pick and place parts of various materials and geometries, and is thus ideal for microassembly tasks that cannot be accomplished by large tethered manipulators. We achieve the programmable assembly of sub-millimeter parts in an enclosed three-dimensional aqueous environment by creating a capillary bridge between the targeted part and a synthetic, untethered, mobile body. The parts include both hydrophilic and hydrophobic components: hydrogel, kapton, human hair, and biological tissue. The 200 μm untethered system can be controlled with five-degrees-of-freedom and advances progress towards autonomous desktop manufacturing for tissue engineering, complex micromachines, microfluidic devices, and meta-materials.

pi

DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Composition-dependent underwater adhesion of catechol-bearing hydrogels
Composition-dependent underwater adhesion of catechol-bearing hydrogels

Wu, H., Sariola, V., Zhao, J., Ding, H., Sitti, M., Bettinger, C. J.

Polymer International, 65(11):1355-1359, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, September 2016 (article)

Abstract
Interfacial adhesion-mediated transfer printing processes can integrate functional electronic microstructures with polymeric substrates that are bendable and stretchable. Transfer printing has also been extended to catechol-bearing adhesive hydrogels. This study presents indentation adhesion tests between catechol-bearing hydrogel substrates with catechol concentrations varying from 0 to 10% (mol/mol) and thin-film materials commonly used in microelectronic fabrication including polymers, noble metals and oxides. The results indicate that the interfacial adhesion of catechol-bearing hydrogels is positively correlated with the concentration of catechol-bearing monomers as well as the retraction velocity during transfer printing. This study can inform transfer printing processes for microfabricated structures to compliant hydrated substrates such as hygroscopic monomers, mesoporous polymer networks and hydrogels. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Bacteria-Driven Particles: Patterned and Specific Attachment of Bacteria on Biohybrid Bacteria-Driven Microswimmers (Adv. Healthcare Mater. 18/2016)
Bacteria-Driven Particles: Patterned and Specific Attachment of Bacteria on Biohybrid Bacteria-Driven Microswimmers (Adv. Healthcare Mater. 18/2016)

Singh, A. V., Sitti, M.

Advanced Healthcare Materials, 5(18):2306-2306, September 2016 (article)

Abstract
On page 2325, Ajay Vikram Singh and Metin Sitti propose a facile surface patterning technique and a specific, strong biotin–streptavidin bonding of bacteria on patterned surfaces to fabricate Janus particles that are propelled by the attached bacteria. Such bacteria-driven Janus microswimmers could be used for future medicine in targeted drug delivery and environmental remediation.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Capture of 2D Microparticle Arrays via a UV-Triggered Thiol-yne ``Click{''} Reaction
Capture of 2D Microparticle Arrays via a UV-Triggered Thiol-yne “Click” Reaction

Walker (Schamel), D., Singh, D. P., Fischer, P.

Advanced Materials, 28(44):9846-9850, September 2016 (article)

Abstract
Immobilization of colloidal assemblies onto solid supports via a fast UV-triggered click-reaction is achieved. Transient assemblies of microparticles and colloidal materials can be captured and transferred to solid supports. The technique does not require complex reaction conditions, and is compatible with a variety of particle assembly methods.

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DOI [BibTex]


Magnesium plasmonics for UV applications and chiral sensing
Magnesium plasmonics for UV applications and chiral sensing

Jeong, H. H., Mark, A. G., Fischer, P.

Chem. Comm., 52(82):12179-12182, September 2016 (article)

Abstract
We demonstrate that chiral magnesium nanoparticles show remarkable plasmonic extinction- and chiroptical-effects in the ultraviolet region. The Mg nanohelices possess an enhanced local surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) sensitivity due to the strong dispersion of most substances in the UV region.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Contextual Policy Search for Linear and Nonlinear Generalization of a Humanoid Walking Controller

Abdolmaleki, A., Lau, N., Reis, L., Peters, J., Neumann, G.

Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, 83(3-4):393-408, (Editors: Luis Almeida, Lino Marques ), September 2016, Special Issue: Autonomous Robot Systems (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Holograms for acoustics
Holograms for acoustics

Melde, K., Mark, A. G., Qiu, T., Fischer, P.

Nature, 537, pages: 518-522, September 2016, Max Planck press release, Nature News & Views, Nature Video. (article)

Abstract
Holographic techniques are fundamental to applications such as volumetric displays(1), high-density data storage and optical tweezers that require spatial control of intricate optical(2) or acoustic fields(3,4) within a three-dimensional volume. The basis of holography is spatial storage of the phase and/or amplitude profile of the desired wavefront(5,6) in a manner that allows that wavefront to be reconstructed by interference when the hologram is illuminated with a suitable coherent source. Modern computer-generated holography(7) skips the process of recording a hologram from a physical scene, and instead calculates the required phase profile before rendering it for reconstruction. In ultrasound applications, the phase profile is typically generated by discrete and independently driven ultrasound sources(3,4,8-12); however, these can only be used in small numbers, which limits the complexity or degrees of freedom that can be attained in the wavefront. Here we introduce monolithic acoustic holograms, which can reconstruct diffraction-limited acoustic pressure fields and thus arbitrary ultrasound beams. We use rapid fabrication to craft the holograms and achieve reconstruction degrees of freedom two orders of magnitude higher than commercial phased array sources. The technique is inexpensive, appropriate for both transmission and reflection elements, and scales well to higher information content, larger aperture size and higher power. The complex three-dimensional pressure and phase distributions produced by these acoustic holograms allow us to demonstrate new approaches to controlled ultrasonic manipulation of solids in water, and of liquids and solids in air. We expect that acoustic holograms will enable new capabilities in beam-steering and the contactless transfer of power, improve medical imaging, and drive new applications of ultrasound.

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Video - Holograms for Sound DOI Project Page [BibTex]

Video - Holograms for Sound DOI Project Page [BibTex]


A loop-gap resonator for chirality-sensitive nuclear magneto-electric resonance (NMER)
A loop-gap resonator for chirality-sensitive nuclear magneto-electric resonance (NMER)

Garbacz, P., Fischer, P., Kraemer, S.

J. Chem. Phys., 145(10):104201, September 2016 (article)

Abstract
Direct detection of molecular chirality is practically impossible by methods of standard nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) that is based on interactions involving magnetic-dipole and magnetic-field operators. However, theoretical studies provide a possible direct probe of chirality by exploiting an enantiomer selective additional coupling involving magnetic-dipole, magnetic-field, and electric field operators. This offers a way for direct experimental detection of chirality by nuclear magneto-electric resonance (NMER). This method uses both resonant magnetic and electric radiofrequency (RF) fields. The weakness of the chiral interaction though requires a large electric RF field and a small transverse RF magnetic field over the sample volume, which is a non-trivial constraint. In this study, we present a detailed study of the NMER concept and a possible experimental realization based on a loop-gap resonator. For this original device, the basic principle and numerical studies as well as fabrication and measurements of the frequency dependence of the scattering parameter are reported. By simulating the NMER spin dynamics for our device and taking the F-19 NMER signal of enantiomer-pure 1,1,1-trifluoropropan-2-ol, we predict a chirality induced NMER signal that accounts for 1%-5% of the standard achiral NMR signal. Published by AIP Publishing.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


The effect of temperature and humidity on adhesion of a gecko-inspired adhesive: implications for the natural system
The effect of temperature and humidity on adhesion of a gecko-inspired adhesive: implications for the natural system

Stark, A. Y., Klittich, M. R., Sitti, M., Niewiarowski, P. H., Dhinojwala, A.

Scientific Reports, 6, pages: 30936, Nature Publishing Group, August 2016 (article)

Abstract
The adhesive system of geckos has inspired hundreds of synthetic adhesives. While this system has been used relentlessly as a source of inspiration, less work has been done in reverse, where synthetics are used to test questions and hypotheses about the natural system. Here we take such an approach. We tested shear adhesion of a mushroom-tipped synthetic gecko adhesive under conditions that produced perplexing results in the natural adhesive system. Synthetic samples were tested at two temperatures (12 °C and 32 °C) and four different humidity levels (30%, 55%, 70%, and 80% RH). Surprisingly, adhesive performance of the synthetic samples matched that of living geckos, suggesting that uncontrolled parameters in the natural system, such as surface chemistry and material changes, may not be as influential in whole-animal performance as previously thought. There was one difference, however, when comparing natural and synthetic adhesive performance. At 12 °C and 80% RH, adhesion of the synthetic structures was lower than expected based on the natural system’s performance. Our approach highlights a unique opportunity for both biologists and material scientists, where new questions and hypotheses can be fueled by joint comparisons of the natural and synthetic systems, ultimately improving knowledge of both.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Non-parametric Models for Structured Data and Applications to Human Bodies and Natural Scenes
Non-parametric Models for Structured Data and Applications to Human Bodies and Natural Scenes

Lehrmann, A.

ETH Zurich, July 2016 (phdthesis)

Abstract
The purpose of this thesis is the study of non-parametric models for structured data and their fields of application in computer vision. We aim at the development of context-sensitive architectures which are both expressive and efficient. Our focus is on directed graphical models, in particular Bayesian networks, where we combine the flexibility of non-parametric local distributions with the efficiency of a global topology with bounded treewidth. A bound on the treewidth is obtained by either constraining the maximum indegree of the underlying graph structure or by introducing determinism. The non-parametric distributions in the nodes of the graph are given by decision trees or kernel density estimators. The information flow implied by specific network topologies, especially the resultant (conditional) independencies, allows for a natural integration and control of contextual information. We distinguish between three different types of context: static, dynamic, and semantic. In four different approaches we propose models which exhibit varying combinations of these contextual properties and allow modeling of structured data in space, time, and hierarchies derived thereof. The generative character of the presented models enables a direct synthesis of plausible hypotheses. Extensive experiments validate the developed models in two application scenarios which are of particular interest in computer vision: human bodies and natural scenes. In the practical sections of this work we discuss both areas from different angles and show applications of our models to human pose, motion, and segmentation as well as object categorization and localization. Here, we benefit from the availability of modern datasets of unprecedented size and diversity. Comparisons to traditional approaches and state-of-the-art research on the basis of well-established evaluation criteria allows the objective assessment of our contributions.

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pdf [BibTex]


Magnetic propulsion of robotic sperms at low-Reynolds number
Magnetic propulsion of robotic sperms at low-Reynolds number

Khalil, I. S., Fatih Tabak, A., Klingner, A., Sitti, M.

Applied Physics Letters, 109(3):033701, AIP Publishing, July 2016 (article)

Abstract
We investigate the microswimming behaviour of robotic sperms in viscous fluids. These robotic sperms are fabricated from polystyrene dissolved in dimethyl formamide and iron-oxide nanoparticles. This composition allows the nanoparticles to be concentrated within the bead of the robotic sperm and provide magnetic dipole, whereas the flexibility of the ultra-thin tail enables flagellated locomotion using magnetic fields in millitesla range. We show that these robotic sperms have similar morphology and swimming behaviour to those of sperm cells. Moreover, we show experimentally that our robotic sperms swim controllably at an average speed of approximately one body length per second (around 125 μm s−1), and they are relatively faster than the microswimmers that depend on planar wave propulsion in low-Reynolds number fluids.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Active Nanorheology with Plasmonics
Active Nanorheology with Plasmonics

Jeong, H. H., Mark, A. G., Lee, T., Alarcon-Correa, M., Eslami, S., Qiu, T., Gibbs, J. G., Fischer, P.

Nano Letters, 16(8):4887-4894, July 2016 (article)

Abstract
Nanoplasmonic systems are valued for their strong optical response and their small size. Most plasmonic sensors and systems to date have been rigid and passive. However, rendering these structures dynamic opens new possibilities for applications. Here we demonstrate that dynamic plasmonic nanoparticles can be used as mechanical sensors to selectively probe the rheological properties of a fluid in situ at the nanoscale and in microscopic volumes. We fabricate chiral magneto-plasmonic nanocolloids that can be actuated by an external magnetic field, which in turn allows for the direct and fast modulation of their distinct optical response. The method is robust and allows nanorheological measurements with a mechanical sensitivity of similar to 0.1 cP, even in strongly absorbing fluids with an optical density of up to OD similar to 3 (similar to 0.1% light transmittance) and in the presence of scatterers (e.g., 50% v/v red blood cells).

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Acquiring and Generalizing the Embodiment Mapping from Human Observations to Robot Skills

Maeda, G., Ewerton, M., Koert, D., Peters, J.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 1(2):784-791, July 2016 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [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]