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2015


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Autonomous Robots

Schaal, S.

In Jahrbuch der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, May 2015 (incollection)

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[BibTex]

2015


[BibTex]


Multi-view and 3D Deformable Part Models
Multi-view and 3D Deformable Part Models

Pepik, B., Stark, M., Gehler, P., Schiele, B.

Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 37(11):14, IEEE, March 2015 (article)

Abstract
As objects are inherently 3-dimensional, they have been modeled in 3D in the early days of computer vision. Due to the ambiguities arising from mapping 2D features to 3D models, 3D object representations have been neglected and 2D feature-based models are the predominant paradigm in object detection nowadays. While such models have achieved outstanding bounding box detection performance, they come with limited expressiveness, as they are clearly limited in their capability of reasoning about 3D shape or viewpoints. In this work, we bring the worlds of 3D and 2D object representations closer, by building an object detector which leverages the expressive power of 3D object representations while at the same time can be robustly matched to image evidence. To that end, we gradually extend the successful deformable part model [1] to include viewpoint information and part-level 3D geometry information, resulting in several different models with different level of expressiveness. We end up with a 3D object model, consisting of multiple object parts represented in 3D and a continuous appearance model. We experimentally verify that our models, while providing richer object hypotheses than the 2D object models, provide consistently better joint object localization and viewpoint estimation than the state-of-the-art multi-view and 3D object detectors on various benchmarks (KITTI [2], 3D object classes [3], Pascal3D+ [4], Pascal VOC 2007 [5], EPFL multi-view cars [6]).

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


From Scans to Models: Registration of 3D Human Shapes Exploiting Texture Information
From Scans to Models: Registration of 3D Human Shapes Exploiting Texture Information

Bogo, F.

University of Padova, March 2015 (phdthesis)

Abstract
New scanning technologies are increasing the importance of 3D mesh data, and of algorithms that can reliably register meshes obtained from multiple scans. Surface registration is important e.g. for building full 3D models from partial scans, identifying and tracking objects in a 3D scene, creating statistical shape models. Human body registration is particularly important for many applications, ranging from biomedicine and robotics to the production of movies and video games; but obtaining accurate and reliable registrations is challenging, given the articulated, non-rigidly deformable structure of the human body. In this thesis, we tackle the problem of 3D human body registration. We start by analyzing the current state of the art, and find that: a) most registration techniques rely only on geometric information, which is ambiguous on flat surface areas; b) there is a lack of adequate datasets and benchmarks in the field. We address both issues. Our contribution is threefold. First, we present a model-based registration technique for human meshes that combines geometry and surface texture information to provide highly accurate mesh-to-mesh correspondences. Our approach estimates scene lighting and surface albedo, and uses the albedo to construct a high-resolution textured 3D body model that is brought into registration with multi-camera image data using a robust matching term. Second, by leveraging our technique, we present FAUST (Fine Alignment Using Scan Texture), a novel dataset collecting 300 high-resolution scans of 10 people in a wide range of poses. FAUST is the first dataset providing both real scans and automatically computed, reliable "ground-truth" correspondences between them. Third, we explore possible uses of our approach in dermatology. By combining our registration technique with a melanocytic lesion segmentation algorithm, we propose a system that automatically detects new or evolving lesions over almost the entire body surface, thus helping dermatologists identify potential melanomas. We conclude this thesis investigating the benefits of using texture information to establish frame-to-frame correspondences in dynamic monocular sequences captured with consumer depth cameras. We outline a novel approach to reconstruct realistic body shape and appearance models from dynamic human performances, and show preliminary results on challenging sequences captured with a Kinect.

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[BibTex]


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Understanding the Geometry of Workspace Obstacles in Motion Optimization

Ratliff, N., Toussaint, M., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, March 2015 (inproceedings)

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PDF Video Project Page [BibTex]

PDF Video Project Page [BibTex]


Long Range Motion Estimation and Applications
Long Range Motion Estimation and Applications

Sevilla-Lara, L.

Long Range Motion Estimation and Applications, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Febuary 2015 (phdthesis)

Abstract
Finding correspondences between images underlies many computer vision problems, such as optical flow, tracking, stereovision and alignment. Finding these correspondences involves formulating a matching function and optimizing it. This optimization process is often gradient descent, which avoids exhaustive search, but relies on the assumption of being in the basin of attraction of the right local minimum. This is often the case when the displacement is small, and current methods obtain very accurate results for small motions. However, when the motion is large and the matching function is bumpy this assumption is less likely to be true. One traditional way of avoiding this abruptness is to smooth the matching function spatially by blurring the images. As the displacement becomes larger, the amount of blur required to smooth the matching function becomes also larger. This averaging of pixels leads to a loss of detail in the image. Therefore, there is a trade-off between the size of the objects that can be tracked and the displacement that can be captured. In this thesis we address the basic problem of increasing the size of the basin of attraction in a matching function. We use an image descriptor called distribution fields (DFs). By blurring the images in DF space instead of in pixel space, we in- crease the size of the basin attraction with respect to traditional methods. We show competitive results using DFs both in object tracking and optical flow. Finally we demonstrate an application of capturing large motions for temporal video stitching.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Policy Search for Imitation Learning

Doerr, A.

University of Stuttgart, January 2015 (thesis)

am ics

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


{Spike train SIMilarity Space} ({SSIMS}): A framework for single neuron and ensemble data analysis
Spike train SIMilarity Space (SSIMS): A framework for single neuron and ensemble data analysis

Vargas-Irwin, C. E., Brandman, D. M., Zimmermann, J. B., Donoghue, J. P., Black, M. J.

Neural Computation, 27(1):1-31, MIT Press, January 2015 (article)

Abstract
We present a method to evaluate the relative similarity of neural spiking patterns by combining spike train distance metrics with dimensionality reduction. Spike train distance metrics provide an estimate of similarity between activity patterns at multiple temporal resolutions. Vectors of pair-wise distances are used to represent the intrinsic relationships between multiple activity patterns at the level of single units or neuronal ensembles. Dimensionality reduction is then used to project the data into concise representations suitable for clustering analysis as well as exploratory visualization. Algorithm performance and robustness are evaluated using multielectrode ensemble activity data recorded in behaving primates. We demonstrate how Spike train SIMilarity Space (SSIMS) analysis captures the relationship between goal directions for an 8-directional reaching task and successfully segregates grasp types in a 3D grasping task in the absence of kinematic information. The algorithm enables exploration of virtually any type of neural spiking (time series) data, providing similarity-based clustering of neural activity states with minimal assumptions about potential information encoding models.

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pdf: publisher site pdf: author's proof DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf: publisher site pdf: author's proof DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Efficient Facade Segmentation using Auto-Context
Efficient Facade Segmentation using Auto-Context

Jampani, V., Gadde, R., Gehler, P. V.

In Applications of Computer Vision (WACV), 2015 IEEE Winter Conference on, pages: 1038-1045, IEEE, WACV,, January 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper we propose a system for the problem of facade segmentation. Building facades are highly structured images and consequently most methods that have been proposed for this problem, aim to make use of this strong prior information. We are describing a system that is almost domain independent and consists of standard segmentation methods. A sequence of boosted decision trees is stacked using auto-context features and learned using the stacked generalization technique. We find that this, albeit standard, technique performs better, or equals, all previous published empirical results on all available facade benchmark datasets. The proposed method is simple to implement, easy to extend, and very efficient at test time inference.

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website pdf supplementary IEEE page link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

website pdf supplementary IEEE page link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Learning of Non-Parametric Control Policies with High-Dimensional State Features

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

In Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, 38, pages: 995–1003, (Editors: Lebanon, G. and Vishwanathan, S.V.N. ), JMLR, AISTATS, 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Data-Driven Online Decision Making for Autonomous Manipulation

Kappler, D., Pastor, P., Kalakrishnan, M., Wuthrich, M., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems, Rome, Italy, 2015 (inproceedings)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


Predicting Human Reaching Motion in Collaborative Tasks Using Inverse Optimal Control and Iterative Re-planning
Predicting Human Reaching Motion in Collaborative Tasks Using Inverse Optimal Control and Iterative Re-planning

Mainprice, J., Hayne, R., Berenson, D.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2015 (inproceedings)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Semi-Autonomous 3rd-Hand Robot

Lopes, M., Peters, J., Piater, J., Toussaint, M., Baisero, A., Busch, B., Erkent, O., Kroemer, O., Lioutikov, R., Maeda, G., Mollard, Y., Munzer, T., Shukla, D.

In Workshop on Cognitive Robotics in Future Manufacturing Scenarios, European Robotics Forum, 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


{FlowCap}: {2D} Human Pose from Optical Flow
FlowCap: 2D Human Pose from Optical Flow

Romero, J., Loper, M., Black, M. J.

In Pattern Recognition, Proc. 37th German Conference on Pattern Recognition (GCPR), LNCS 9358, pages: 412-423, Springer, GCPR, 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We estimate 2D human pose from video using only optical flow. The key insight is that dense optical flow can provide information about 2D body pose. Like range data, flow is largely invariant to appearance but unlike depth it can be directly computed from monocular video. We demonstrate that body parts can be detected from dense flow using the same random forest approach used by the Microsoft Kinect. Unlike range data, however, when people stop moving, there is no optical flow and they effectively disappear. To address this, our FlowCap method uses a Kalman filter to propagate body part positions and ve- locities over time and a regression method to predict 2D body pose from part centers. No range sensor is required and FlowCap estimates 2D human pose from monocular video sources containing human motion. Such sources include hand-held phone cameras and archival television video. We demonstrate 2D body pose estimation in a range of scenarios and show that the method works with real-time optical flow. The results suggest that optical flow shares invariances with range data that, when complemented with tracking, make it valuable for pose estimation.

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video pdf preprint Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

video pdf preprint Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Active Reward Learning with a Novel Acquisition Function

Daniel, C., Kroemer, O., Viering, M., Metz, J., Peters, J.

Autonomous Robots, 39(3):389-405, 2015 (article)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Learning Inverse Dynamics Models with Contacts

Calandra, R., Ivaldi, S., Deisenroth, M., Rückert, E., Peters, J.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 3186-3191, ICRA, 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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A Probabilistic Framework for Semi-Autonomous Robots Based on Interaction Primitives with Phase Estimation

Maeda, G., Neumann, G., Ewerton, M., Lioutikov, R., Peters, J.

In Proceedings of the International Symposium of Robotics Research, ISRR, 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


Metric Regression Forests for Correspondence Estimation
Metric Regression Forests for Correspondence Estimation

Pons-Moll, G., Taylor, J., Shotton, J., Hertzmann, A., Fitzgibbon, A.

International Journal of Computer Vision, pages: 1-13, 2015 (article)

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springer PDF Project Page [BibTex]

springer PDF Project Page [BibTex]


Joint 3D Object and Layout Inference from a single RGB-D Image
Joint 3D Object and Layout Inference from a single RGB-D Image

(Best Paper Award)

Geiger, A., Wang, C.

In German Conference on Pattern Recognition (GCPR), 9358, pages: 183-195, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer International Publishing, 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Inferring 3D objects and the layout of indoor scenes from a single RGB-D image captured with a Kinect camera is a challenging task. Towards this goal, we propose a high-order graphical model and jointly reason about the layout, objects and superpixels in the image. In contrast to existing holistic approaches, our model leverages detailed 3D geometry using inverse graphics and explicitly enforces occlusion and visibility constraints for respecting scene properties and projective geometry. We cast the task as MAP inference in a factor graph and solve it efficiently using message passing. We evaluate our method with respect to several baselines on the challenging NYUv2 indoor dataset using 21 object categories. Our experiments demonstrate that the proposed method is able to infer scenes with a large degree of clutter and occlusions.

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pdf suppmat video project DOI [BibTex]

pdf suppmat video project DOI [BibTex]


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Learning Movement Primitive Attractor Goals and Sequential Skills from Kinesthetic Demonstrations

Manschitz, S., Kober, J., Gienger, M., Peters, J.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 74, Part A, pages: 97-107, 2015 (article)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Bayesian Optimization for Learning Gaits under Uncertainty

Calandra, R., Seyfarth, A., Peters, J., Deisenroth, M.

Annals of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence, pages: 1-19, 2015 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Towards Learning Hierarchical Skills for Multi-Phase Manipulation Tasks

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

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 1503 - 1510, ICRA, 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Force estimation and slip detection/classification for grip control using a biomimetic tactile sensor
Force estimation and slip detection/classification for grip control using a biomimetic tactile sensor

Su, Z., Hausman, K., Chebotar, Y., Molchanov, A., Loeb, G. E., Sukhatme, G. S., Schaal, S.

In IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids), pages: 297-303, 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


3D Object Class Detection in the Wild
3D Object Class Detection in the Wild

Pepik, B., Stark, M., Gehler, P., Ritschel, T., Schiele, B.

In Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Workshops (CVPRW), IEEE, Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Workshops (CVPRW), 2015 (inproceedings)

ps

Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


Discrete Optimization for Optical Flow
Discrete Optimization for Optical Flow

Menze, M., Heipke, C., Geiger, A.

In German Conference on Pattern Recognition (GCPR), 9358, pages: 16-28, Springer International Publishing, 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We propose to look at large-displacement optical flow from a discrete point of view. Motivated by the observation that sub-pixel accuracy is easily obtained given pixel-accurate optical flow, we conjecture that computing the integral part is the hardest piece of the problem. Consequently, we formulate optical flow estimation as a discrete inference problem in a conditional random field, followed by sub-pixel refinement. Naive discretization of the 2D flow space, however, is intractable due to the resulting size of the label set. In this paper, we therefore investigate three different strategies, each able to reduce computation and memory demands by several orders of magnitude. Their combination allows us to estimate large-displacement optical flow both accurately and efficiently and demonstrates the potential of discrete optimization for optical flow. We obtain state-of-the-art performance on MPI Sintel and KITTI.

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pdf suppmat project DOI [BibTex]

pdf suppmat project DOI [BibTex]


Policy Learning with Hypothesis Based Local Action Selection
Policy Learning with Hypothesis Based Local Action Selection

Sankaran, B., Bohg, J., Ratliff, N., Schaal, S.

In Reinforcement Learning and Decision Making, 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
For robots to be able to manipulate in unknown and unstructured environments the robot should be capable of operating under partial observability of the environment. Object occlusions and unmodeled environments are some of the factors that result in partial observability. A common scenario where this is encountered is manipulation in clutter. In the case that the robot needs to locate an object of interest and manipulate it, it needs to perform a series of decluttering actions to accurately detect the object of interest. To perform such a series of actions, the robot also needs to account for the dynamics of objects in the environment and how they react to contact. This is a non trivial problem since one needs to reason not only about robot-object interactions but also object-object interactions in the presence of contact. In the example scenario of manipulation in clutter, the state vector would have to account for the pose of the object of interest and the structure of the surrounding environment. The process model would have to account for all the aforementioned robot-object, object-object interactions. The complexity of the process model grows exponentially as the number of objects in the scene increases. This is commonly the case in unstructured environments. Hence it is not reasonable to attempt to model all object-object and robot-object interactions explicitly. Under this setting we propose a hypothesis based action selection algorithm where we construct a hypothesis set of the possible poses of an object of interest given the current evidence in the scene and select actions based on our current set of hypothesis. This hypothesis set tends to represent the belief about the structure of the environment and the number of poses the object of interest can take. The agent's only stopping criterion is when the uncertainty regarding the pose of the object is fully resolved.

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Web Project Page [BibTex]


Joint 3D Estimation of Vehicles and Scene Flow
Joint 3D Estimation of Vehicles and Scene Flow

Menze, M., Heipke, C., Geiger, A.

In Proc. of the ISPRS Workshop on Image Sequence Analysis (ISA), 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Three-dimensional reconstruction of dynamic scenes is an important prerequisite for applications like mobile robotics or autonomous driving. While much progress has been made in recent years, imaging conditions in natural outdoor environments are still very challenging for current reconstruction and recognition methods. In this paper, we propose a novel unified approach which reasons jointly about 3D scene flow as well as the pose, shape and motion of vehicles in the scene. Towards this goal, we incorporate a deformable CAD model into a slanted-plane conditional random field for scene flow estimation and enforce shape consistency between the rendered 3D models and the parameters of all superpixels in the image. The association of superpixels to objects is established by an index variable which implicitly enables model selection. We evaluate our approach on the challenging KITTI scene flow dataset in terms of object and scene flow estimation. Our results provide a prove of concept and demonstrate the usefulness of our method.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Learning Optimal Striking Points for A Ping-Pong Playing Robot

Huang, Y., Schölkopf, B., Peters, J.

In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 4587-4592, IROS, 2015 (inproceedings)

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PDF DOI [BibTex]

PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Model-Based Relative Entropy Stochastic Search

Abdolmaleki, A., Peters, J., Neumann, G.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 28, pages: 3523-3531, (Editors: C. Cortes, N.D. Lawrence, D.D. Lee, M. Sugiyama and R. Garnett), Curran Associates, Inc., 29th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 2015 (inproceedings)

am ei

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Modeling Spatio-Temporal Variability in Human-Robot Interaction with Probabilistic Movement Primitives

Ewerton, M., Neumann, G., Lioutikov, R., Ben Amor, H., Peters, J., Maeda, G.

In Workshop on Machine Learning for Social Robotics, ICRA, 2015 (inproceedings)

am ei

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Extracting Low-Dimensional Control Variables for Movement Primitives

Rueckert, E., Mundo, J., Paraschos, A., Peters, J., Neumann, G.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 1511-1518, ICRA, 2015 (inproceedings)

am ei

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Exciting Engineered Passive Dynamics in a Bipedal Robot
Exciting Engineered Passive Dynamics in a Bipedal Robot

Renjewski, D., Spröwitz, A., Peekema, A., Jones, M., Hurst, J.

{IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation}, 31(5):1244-1251, IEEE, New York, NY, 2015 (article)

Abstract
A common approach in designing legged robots is to build fully actuated machines and control the machine dynamics entirely in soft- ware, carefully avoiding impacts and expending a lot of energy. However, these machines are outperformed by their human and animal counterparts. Animals achieve their impressive agility, efficiency, and robustness through a close integration of passive dynamics, implemented through mechanical components, and neural control. Robots can benefit from this same integrated approach, but a strong theoretical framework is required to design the passive dynamics of a machine and exploit them for control. For this framework, we use a bipedal spring–mass model, which has been shown to approximate the dynamics of human locomotion. This paper reports the first implementation of spring–mass walking on a bipedal robot. We present the use of template dynamics as a control objective exploiting the engineered passive spring–mass dynamics of the ATRIAS robot. The results highlight the benefits of combining passive dynamics with dynamics-based control and open up a library of spring–mass model-based control strategies for dynamic gait control of robots.

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link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Smooth Loops from Unconstrained Video
Smooth Loops from Unconstrained Video

Sevilla-Lara, L., Wulff, J., Sunkavalli, K., Shechtman, E.

In Computer Graphics Forum (Proceedings of EGSR), 34(4):99-107, Eurographics Symposium on Rendering, 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Converting unconstrained video sequences into videos that loop seamlessly is an extremely challenging problem. In this work, we take the first steps towards automating this process by focusing on an important subclass of videos containing a single dominant foreground object. Our technique makes two novel contributions over previous work: first, we propose a correspondence-based similarity metric to automatically identify a good transition point in the video where the appearance and dynamics of the foreground are most consistent. Second, we develop a technique that aligns both the foreground and background about this transition point using a combination of global camera path planning and patch-based video morphing. We demonstrate that this allows us to create natural, compelling, loopy videos from a wide range of videos collected from the internet.

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pdf link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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A New Perspective and Extension of the Gaussian Filter

Wüthrich, M., Trimpe, S., Kappler, D., Schaal, S.

In Robotics: Science and Systems, 2015 (inproceedings)

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. GFs represent the belief of the current state by a Gaussian with the mean being an affine function of the measurement. We show that this representation can be too restrictive to accurately capture the dependencies 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 from a variational-inference perspective, and analyze how restrictions on the form of the belief can be relaxed while maintaining simplicity and efficiency. This analysis provides a basis for generalizations of the GF. We propose one such generalization which coincides with a GF using a virtual measurement, obtained by applying a nonlinear function to the actual measurement. Numerical experiments show that the proposed Feature Gaussian Filter (FGF) can have a substantial performance advantage over the standard GF for systems with nonlinear observation models.

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Web PDF Project Page [BibTex]


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Learning multiple collaborative tasks with a mixture of Interaction Primitives

Ewerton, M., Neumann, G., Lioutikov, R., Ben Amor, H., Peters, J., Maeda, G.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 1535-1542, ICRA, 2015 (inproceedings)

am ei

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Whole-body motor strategies for balancing on a beam when changing the number of available degrees of freedom

Chiovetto, E, Huber, M, Righetti, L., Schaal, S., Sternad, D, Giese, M.

In Progress in Motor Control X, Budapest, Hungry, 2015 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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From Humans to Robots and Back: Role of Arm Movement in Medio-lateral Balance Control

Huber, M, Chiovetto, E, Schaal, S., Giese, M., Sternad, D

In Annual Meeting of Neural Control of Movement, Charleston, NC, 2015 (inproceedings)

am

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Novel plasticity rule can explain the development of sensorimotor intelligence

Der, R., Martius, G.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(45):E6224-E6232, 2015 (article)

Abstract
Grounding autonomous behavior in the nervous system is a fundamental challenge for neuroscience. In particular, self-organized behavioral development provides more questions than answers. Are there special functional units for curiosity, motivation, and creativity? This paper argues that these features can be grounded in synaptic plasticity itself, without requiring any higher-level constructs. We propose differential extrinsic plasticity (DEP) as a new synaptic rule for self-learning systems and apply it to a number of complex robotic systems as a test case. Without specifying any purpose or goal, seemingly purposeful and adaptive rhythmic behavior is developed, displaying a certain level of sensorimotor intelligence. These surprising results require no system-specific modifications of the DEP rule. They rather arise from the underlying mechanism of spontaneous symmetry breaking, which is due to the tight brain body environment coupling. The new synaptic rule is biologically plausible and would be an interesting target for neurobiological investigation. We also argue that this neuronal mechanism may have been a catalyst in natural evolution.

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link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Trajectory generation for multi-contact momentum control

Herzog, A., Rotella, N., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2015 IEEE-RAS 15th International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids), pages: 874-880, IEEE, Seoul, South Korea, 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Simplified models of the dynamics such as the linear inverted pendulum model (LIPM) have proven to perform well for biped walking on flat ground. However, for more complex tasks the assumptions of these models can become limiting. For example, the LIPM does not allow for the control of contact forces independently, is limited to co-planar contacts and assumes that the angular momentum is zero. In this paper, we propose to use the full momentum equations of a humanoid robot in a trajectory optimization framework to plan its center of mass, linear and angular momentum trajectories. The model also allows for planning desired contact forces for each end-effector in arbitrary contact locations. We extend our previous results on linear quadratic regulator (LQR) design for momentum control by computing the (linearized) optimal momentum feedback law in a receding horizon fashion. The resulting desired momentum and the associated feedback law are then used in a hierarchical whole body control approach. Simulation experiments show that the approach is computationally fast and is able to generate plans for locomotion on complex terrains while demonstrating good tracking performance for the full humanoid control.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Quantifying Emergent Behavior of Autonomous Robots

Martius, G., Olbrich, E.

Entropy, 17(10):7266, 2015 (article)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Humanoid Momentum Estimation Using Sensed Contact Wrenches

Rotella, N., Herzog, A., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2015 IEEE-RAS 15th International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids), pages: 556-563, IEEE, Seoul, South Korea, 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This work presents approaches for the estimation of quantities important for the control of the momentum of a humanoid robot. In contrast to previous approaches which use simplified models such as the Linear Inverted Pendulum Model, we present estimators based on the momentum dynamics of the robot. By using this simple yet dynamically-consistent model, we avoid the issues of using simplified models for estimation. We develop an estimator for the center of mass and full momentum which can be reformulated to estimate center of mass offsets as well as external wrenches applied to the robot. The observability of these estimators is investigated and their performance is evaluated in comparison to previous approaches.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Robot Learning

Peters, J., Lee, D., Kober, J., Nguyen-Tuong, D., Bagnell, J. A., Schaal, S.

In Springer Handbook of Robotics 2nd Edition, pages: 1371-1394, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2015 (incollection)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]

2013


Branch\&Rank for Efficient Object Detection
Branch&Rank for Efficient Object Detection

Lehmann, A., Gehler, P., VanGool, L.

International Journal of Computer Vision, Springer, December 2013 (article)

Abstract
Ranking hypothesis sets is a powerful concept for efficient object detection. In this work, we propose a branch&rank scheme that detects objects with often less than 100 ranking operations. This efficiency enables the use of strong and also costly classifiers like non-linear SVMs with RBF-TeX kernels. We thereby relieve an inherent limitation of branch&bound methods as bounds are often not tight enough to be effective in practice. Our approach features three key components: a ranking function that operates on sets of hypotheses and a grouping of these into different tasks. Detection efficiency results from adaptively sub-dividing the object search space into decreasingly smaller sets. This is inherited from branch&bound, while the ranking function supersedes a tight bound which is often unavailable (except for rather limited function classes). The grouping makes the system effective: it separates image classification from object recognition, yet combines them in a single formulation, phrased as a structured SVM problem. A novel aspect of branch&rank is that a better ranking function is expected to decrease the number of classifier calls during detection. We use the VOC’07 dataset to demonstrate the algorithmic properties of branch&rank.

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pdf link (url) [BibTex]

2013


pdf link (url) [BibTex]


Strong Appearance and Expressive Spatial Models for Human Pose Estimation
Strong Appearance and Expressive Spatial Models for Human Pose Estimation

Pishchulin, L., Andriluka, M., Gehler, P., Schiele, B.

In International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 3487 - 3494 , IEEE, Computer Vision (ICCV), IEEE International Conference on , December 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Typical approaches to articulated pose estimation combine spatial modelling of the human body with appearance modelling of body parts. This paper aims to push the state-of-the-art in articulated pose estimation in two ways. First we explore various types of appearance representations aiming to substantially improve the body part hypotheses. And second, we draw on and combine several recently proposed powerful ideas such as more flexible spatial models as well as image-conditioned spatial models. In a series of experiments we draw several important conclusions: (1) we show that the proposed appearance representations are complementary; (2) we demonstrate that even a basic tree-structure spatial human body model achieves state-of-the-art performance when augmented with the proper appearance representation; and (3) we show that the combination of the best performing appearance model with a flexible image-conditioned spatial model achieves the best result, significantly improving over the state of the art, on the "Leeds Sports Poses'' and "Parse'' benchmarks.

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Extracting Postural Synergies for Robotic Grasping
Extracting Postural Synergies for Robotic Grasping

Romero, J., Feix, T., Ek, C., Kjellstrom, H., Kragic, D.

Robotics, IEEE Transactions on, 29(6):1342-1352, December 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Understanding High-Level Semantics by Modeling Traffic Patterns
Understanding High-Level Semantics by Modeling Traffic Patterns

Zhang, H., Geiger, A., Urtasun, R.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, pages: 3056-3063, Sydney, Australia, December 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we are interested in understanding the semantics of outdoor scenes in the context of autonomous driving. Towards this goal, we propose a generative model of 3D urban scenes which is able to reason not only about the geometry and objects present in the scene, but also about the high-level semantics in the form of traffic patterns. We found that a small number of patterns is sufficient to model the vast majority of traffic scenes and show how these patterns can be learned. As evidenced by our experiments, this high-level reasoning significantly improves the overall scene estimation as well as the vehicle-to-lane association when compared to state-of-the-art approaches. All data and code will be made available upon publication.

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


A Non-parametric {Bayesian} Network Prior of Human Pose
A Non-parametric Bayesian Network Prior of Human Pose

Lehrmann, A. M., Gehler, P., Nowozin, S.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 1281-1288, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision, December 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Having a sensible prior of human pose is a vital ingredient for many computer vision applications, including tracking and pose estimation. While the application of global non-parametric approaches and parametric models has led to some success, finding the right balance in terms of flexibility and tractability, as well as estimating model parameters from data has turned out to be challenging. In this work, we introduce a sparse Bayesian network model of human pose that is non-parametric with respect to the estimation of both its graph structure and its local distributions. We describe an efficient sampling scheme for our model and show its tractability for the computation of exact log-likelihoods. We empirically validate our approach on the Human 3.6M dataset and demonstrate superior performance to global models and parametric networks. We further illustrate our model's ability to represent and compose poses not present in the training set (compositionality) and describe a speed-accuracy trade-off that allows realtime scoring of poses.

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Project page pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

Project page pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Towards understanding action recognition
Towards understanding action recognition

Jhuang, H., Gall, J., Zuffi, S., Schmid, C., Black, M. J.

In IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 3192-3199, IEEE, Sydney, Australia, December 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Although action recognition in videos is widely studied, current methods often fail on real-world datasets. Many recent approaches improve accuracy and robustness to cope with challenging video sequences, but it is often unclear what affects the results most. This paper attempts to provide insights based on a systematic performance evaluation using thoroughly-annotated data of human actions. We annotate human Joints for the HMDB dataset (J-HMDB). This annotation can be used to derive ground truth optical flow and segmentation. We evaluate current methods using this dataset and systematically replace the output of various algorithms with ground truth. This enables us to discover what is important – for example, should we work on improving flow algorithms, estimating human bounding boxes, or enabling pose estimation? In summary, we find that highlevel pose features greatly outperform low/mid level features; in particular, pose over time is critical, but current pose estimation algorithms are not yet reliable enough to provide this information. We also find that the accuracy of a top-performing action recognition framework can be greatly increased by refining the underlying low/mid level features; this suggests it is important to improve optical flow and human detection algorithms. Our analysis and JHMDB dataset should facilitate a deeper understanding of action recognition algorithms.

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Website Errata Poster Paper Slides DOI Project Page Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

Website Errata Poster Paper Slides DOI Project Page Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Probabilistic Object Tracking Using a Range Camera
Probabilistic Object Tracking Using a Range Camera

Wüthrich, M., Pastor, P., Kalakrishnan, M., Bohg, J., Schaal, S.

In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 3195-3202, IEEE, November 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We address the problem of tracking the 6-DoF pose of an object while it is being manipulated by a human or a robot. We use a dynamic Bayesian network to perform inference and compute a posterior distribution over the current object pose. Depending on whether a robot or a human manipulates the object, we employ a process model with or without knowledge of control inputs. Observations are obtained from a range camera. As opposed to previous object tracking methods, we explicitly model self-occlusions and occlusions from the environment, e.g, the human or robotic hand. This leads to a strongly non-linear observation model and additional dependencies in the Bayesian network. We employ a Rao-Blackwellised particle filter to compute an estimate of the object pose at every time step. In a set of experiments, we demonstrate the ability of our method to accurately and robustly track the object pose in real-time while it is being manipulated by a human or a robot.

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arXiv Video Code Video DOI Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv Video Code Video DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Mixing Decoded Cursor Velocity and Position from an Offline Kalman Filter Improves Cursor Control in People with Tetraplegia
Mixing Decoded Cursor Velocity and Position from an Offline Kalman Filter Improves Cursor Control in People with Tetraplegia

Homer, M., Harrison, M., Black, M. J., Perge, J., Cash, S., Friehs, G., Hochberg, L.

In 6th International IEEE EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering, pages: 715-718, San Diego, November 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Kalman filtering is a common method to decode neural signals from the motor cortex. In clinical research investigating the use of intracortical brain computer interfaces (iBCIs), the technique enabled people with tetraplegia to control assistive devices such as a computer or robotic arm directly from their neural activity. For reaching movements, the Kalman filter typically estimates the instantaneous endpoint velocity of the control device. Here, we analyzed attempted arm/hand movements by people with tetraplegia to control a cursor on a computer screen to reach several circular targets. A standard velocity Kalman filter is enhanced to additionally decode for the cursor’s position. We then mix decoded velocity and position to generate cursor movement commands. We analyzed data, offline, from two participants across six sessions. Root mean squared error between the actual and estimated cursor trajectory improved by 12.2 ±10.5% (pairwise t-test, p<0.05) as compared to a standard velocity Kalman filter. The findings suggest that simultaneously decoding for intended velocity and position and using them both to generate movement commands can improve the performance of iBCIs.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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

Wang, C., Komodakis, N., Paragios, N.

Computer Vision and Image Understanding (CVIU), 117(11):1610-1627, November 2013 (article)

Abstract
In this paper, we present a comprehensive survey of Markov Random Fields (MRFs) in computer vision and image understanding, with respect to the modeling, the inference and the learning. While MRFs were introduced into the computer vision field about two decades ago, they started to become a ubiquitous tool for solving visual perception problems around the turn of the millennium following the emergence of efficient inference methods. During the past decade, a variety of MRF models as well as inference and learning methods have been developed for addressing numerous low, mid and high-level vision problems. While most of the literature concerns pairwise MRFs, in recent years we have also witnessed significant progress in higher-order MRFs, which substantially enhances the expressiveness of graph-based models and expands the domain of solvable problems. This survey provides a compact and informative summary of the major literature in this research topic.

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Publishers site pdf [BibTex]

Publishers site pdf [BibTex]