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2020


Label Efficient Visual Abstractions for Autonomous Driving
Label Efficient Visual Abstractions for Autonomous Driving

Behl, A., Chitta, K., Prakash, A., Ohn-Bar, E., Geiger, A.

IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), IEEE, October 2020 (conference)

Abstract
It is well known that semantic segmentation can be used as an effective intermediate representation for learning driving policies. However, the task of street scene semantic segmentation requires expensive annotations. Furthermore, segmentation algorithms are often trained irrespective of the actual driving task, using auxiliary image-space loss functions which are not guaranteed to maximize driving metrics such as safety or distance traveled per intervention. In this work, we seek to quantify the impact of reducing segmentation annotation costs on learned behavior cloning agents. We analyze several segmentation-based intermediate representations. We use these visual abstractions to systematically study the trade-off between annotation efficiency and driving performance, ie, the types of classes labeled, the number of image samples used to learn the visual abstraction model, and their granularity (eg, object masks vs. 2D bounding boxes). Our analysis uncovers several practical insights into how segmentation-based visual abstractions can be exploited in a more label efficient manner. Surprisingly, we find that state-of-the-art driving performance can be achieved with orders of magnitude reduction in annotation cost. Beyond label efficiency, we find several additional training benefits when leveraging visual abstractions, such as a significant reduction in the variance of the learned policy when compared to state-of-the-art end-to-end driving models.

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pdf slides video Project Page [BibTex]

2020


pdf slides video Project Page [BibTex]


Convolutional Occupancy Networks
Convolutional Occupancy Networks

Peng, S., Niemeyer, M., Mescheder, L., Pollefeys, M., Geiger, A.

In European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV), Springer International Publishing, Cham, August 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Recently, implicit neural representations have gained popularity for learning-based 3D reconstruction. While demonstrating promising results, most implicit approaches are limited to comparably simple geometry of single objects and do not scale to more complicated or large-scale scenes. The key limiting factor of implicit methods is their simple fully-connected network architecture which does not allow for integrating local information in the observations or incorporating inductive biases such as translational equivariance. In this paper, we propose Convolutional Occupancy Networks, a more flexible implicit representation for detailed reconstruction of objects and 3D scenes. By combining convolutional encoders with implicit occupancy decoders, our model incorporates inductive biases, enabling structured reasoning in 3D space. We investigate the effectiveness of the proposed representation by reconstructing complex geometry from noisy point clouds and low-resolution voxel representations. We empirically find that our method enables the fine-grained implicit 3D reconstruction of single objects, scales to large indoor scenes, and generalizes well from synthetic to real data.

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pdf suppmat video Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat video Project Page [BibTex]


Learning Sensory-Motor Associations from Demonstration
Learning Sensory-Motor Associations from Demonstration

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

29th IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (Ro-Man 2020), August 2020 (conference) Accepted

Abstract
We propose a method which generates reactive robot behavior learned from human demonstration. In order to do so, we use the Playful programming language which is based on the reactive programming paradigm. This allows us to represent the learned behavior as a set of associations between sensor and motor primitives in a human readable script. Distinguishing between sensor and motor primitives introduces a supplementary level of granularity and more importantly enforces feedback, increasing adaptability and robustness. As the experimental section shows, useful behaviors may be learned from a single demonstration covering a very limited portion of the task space.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Category Level Object Pose Estimation via Neural Analysis-by-Synthesis
Category Level Object Pose Estimation via Neural Analysis-by-Synthesis

Chen, X., Dong, Z., Song, J., Geiger, A., Hilliges, O.

In European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV), Springer International Publishing, Cham, August 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Many object pose estimation algorithms rely on the analysis-by-synthesis framework which requires explicit representations of individual object instances. In this paper we combine a gradient-based fitting procedure with a parametric neural image synthesis module that is capable of implicitly representing the appearance, shape and pose of entire object categories, thus rendering the need for explicit CAD models per object instance unnecessary. The image synthesis network is designed to efficiently span the pose configuration space so that model capacity can be used to capture the shape and local appearance (i.e., texture) variations jointly. At inference time the synthesized images are compared to the target via an appearance based loss and the error signal is backpropagated through the network to the input parameters. Keeping the network parameters fixed, this allows for iterative optimization of the object pose, shape and appearance in a joint manner and we experimentally show that the method can recover orientation of objects with high accuracy from 2D images alone. When provided with depth measurements, to overcome scale ambiguities, the method can accurately recover the full 6DOF pose successfully.

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Project Page pdf suppmat [BibTex]

Project Page pdf suppmat [BibTex]


How to Train Your Differentiable Filter
How to Train Your Differentiable Filter

Alina Kloss, G. M. J. B.

In July 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In many robotic applications, it is crucial to maintain a belief about the state of a system. These state estimates serve as input for planning and decision making and provide feedback during task execution. Recursive Bayesian Filtering algorithms address the state estimation problem, but they require models of process dynamics and sensory observations as well as noise characteristics of these models. Recently, multiple works have demonstrated that these models can be learned by end-to-end training through differentiable versions of Recursive Filtering algorithms.The aim of this work is to improve understanding and applicability of such differentiable filters (DF). We implement DFs with four different underlying filtering algorithms and compare them in extensive experiments. We find that long enough training sequences are crucial for DF performance and that modelling heteroscedastic observation noise significantly improves results. And while the different DFs perform similarly on our example task, we recommend the differentiable Extended Kalman Filter for getting started due to its simplicity.

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pdf [BibTex]


Changes in Normal Force During Passive Dynamic Touch: Contact Mechanics and Perception
Changes in Normal Force During Passive Dynamic Touch: Contact Mechanics and Perception

Gueorguiev, D., Lambert, J., Thonnard, J., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE Haptics Symposium (HAPTICS), pages: 746-752, Washington, USA, March 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Using a force-controlled robotic platform, we investigated the contact mechanics and psychophysical responses induced by negative and positive modulations in normal force during passive dynamic touch. In the natural state of the finger, the applied normal force modulation induces a correlated change in the tangential force. In a second condition, we applied talcum powder to the fingerpad, which induced a significant modification in the slope of the correlated tangential change. In both conditions, the same ten participants had to detect the interval that contained a decrease or an increase in the pre-stimulation normal force of 1 N. In the natural state, the 75% just noticeable difference for this task was found to be a ratio of 0.19 and 0.18 for decreases and increases, respectively. With talcum powder on the fingerpad, the normal force thresholds remained stable, following the Weber law of constant just noticeable differences, while the tangential force thresholds changed in the same way as the correlation slopes. This result suggests that participants predominantly relied on the normal force changes to perform the detection task. In addition, participants were asked to report whether the force decreased or increased. Their performance was generally poor at this second task even for above-threshold changes. However, their accuracy slightly improved with the talcum powder, which might be due to the reduced finger-surface friction.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Learning Unsupervised Hierarchical Part Decomposition of 3D Objects from a Single RGB Image
Learning Unsupervised Hierarchical Part Decomposition of 3D Objects from a Single RGB Image

Paschalidou, D., Gool, L., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Humans perceive the 3D world as a set of distinct objects that are characterized by various low-level (geometry, reflectance) and high-level (connectivity, adjacency, symmetry) properties. Recent methods based on convolutional neural networks (CNNs) demonstrated impressive progress in 3D reconstruction, even when using a single 2D image as input. However, the majority of these methods focuses on recovering the local 3D geometry of an object without considering its part-based decomposition or relations between parts. We address this challenging problem by proposing a novel formulation that allows to jointly recover the geometry of a 3D object as a set of primitives as well as their latent hierarchical structure without part-level supervision. Our model recovers the higher level structural decomposition of various objects in the form of a binary tree of primitives, where simple parts are represented with fewer primitives and more complex parts are modeled with more components. Our experiments on the ShapeNet and D-FAUST datasets demonstrate that considering the organization of parts indeed facilitates reasoning about 3D geometry.

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pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Slides Poster Video 1 [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Slides Poster Video 1 [BibTex]


GRAF: Generative Radiance Fields for 3D-Aware Image Synthesis
GRAF: Generative Radiance Fields for 3D-Aware Image Synthesis

Schwarz, K., Liao, Y., Niemeyer, M., Geiger, A.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS), 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
While 2D generative adversarial networks have enabled high-resolution image synthesis, they largely lack an understanding of the 3D world and the image formation process. Thus, they do not provide precise control over camera viewpoint or object pose. To address this problem, several recent approaches leverage intermediate voxel-based representations in combination with differentiable rendering. However, existing methods either produce low image resolution or fall short in disentangling camera and scene properties, eg, the object identity may vary with the viewpoint. In this paper, we propose a generative model for radiance fields which have recently proven successful for novel view synthesis of a single scene. In contrast to voxel-based representations, radiance fields are not confined to a coarse discretization of the 3D space, yet allow for disentangling camera and scene properties while degrading gracefully in the presence of reconstruction ambiguity. By introducing a multi-scale patch-based discriminator, we demonstrate synthesis of high-resolution images while training our model from unposed 2D images alone. We systematically analyze our approach on several challenging synthetic and real-world datasets. Our experiments reveal that radiance fields are a powerful representation for generative image synthesis, leading to 3D consistent models that render with high fidelity.

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pdf suppmat video Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat video Project Page [BibTex]


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A Real-Robot Dataset for Assessing Transferability of Learned Dynamics Models

Agudelo-España, D., Zadaianchuk, A., Wenk, P., Garg, A., Akpo, J., Grimminger, F., Viereck, J., Naveau, M., Righetti, L., Martius, G., Krause, A., Schölkopf, B., Bauer, S., Wüthrich, M.

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2020 (conference) Accepted

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Project Page PDF [BibTex]

Project Page PDF [BibTex]


Towards Unsupervised Learning of Generative Models for 3D Controllable Image Synthesis
Towards Unsupervised Learning of Generative Models for 3D Controllable Image Synthesis

Liao, Y., Schwarz, K., Mescheder, L., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In recent years, Generative Adversarial Networks have achieved impressive results in photorealistic image synthesis. This progress nurtures hopes that one day the classical rendering pipeline can be replaced by efficient models that are learned directly from images. However, current image synthesis models operate in the 2D domain where disentangling 3D properties such as camera viewpoint or object pose is challenging. Furthermore, they lack an interpretable and controllable representation. Our key hypothesis is that the image generation process should be modeled in 3D space as the physical world surrounding us is intrinsically three-dimensional. We define the new task of 3D controllable image synthesis and propose an approach for solving it by reasoning both in 3D space and in the 2D image domain. We demonstrate that our model is able to disentangle latent 3D factors of simple multi-object scenes in an unsupervised fashion from raw images. Compared to pure 2D baselines, it allows for synthesizing scenes that are consistent wrt. changes in viewpoint or object pose. We further evaluate various 3D representations in terms of their usefulness for this challenging task.

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pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Slides Poster [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Slides Poster [BibTex]


Exploring Data Aggregation in Policy Learning for Vision-based Urban Autonomous Driving
Exploring Data Aggregation in Policy Learning for Vision-based Urban Autonomous Driving

Prakash, A., Behl, A., Ohn-Bar, E., Chitta, K., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Data aggregation techniques can significantly improve vision-based policy learning within a training environment, e.g., learning to drive in a specific simulation condition. However, as on-policy data is sequentially sampled and added in an iterative manner, the policy can specialize and overfit to the training conditions. For real-world applications, it is useful for the learned policy to generalize to novel scenarios that differ from the training conditions. To improve policy learning while maintaining robustness when training end-to-end driving policies, we perform an extensive analysis of data aggregation techniques in the CARLA environment. We demonstrate how the majority of them have poor generalization performance, and develop a novel approach with empirically better generalization performance compared to existing techniques. Our two key ideas are (1) to sample critical states from the collected on-policy data based on the utility they provide to the learned policy in terms of driving behavior, and (2) to incorporate a replay buffer which progressively focuses on the high uncertainty regions of the policy's state distribution. We evaluate the proposed approach on the CARLA NoCrash benchmark, focusing on the most challenging driving scenarios with dense pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Our approach improves driving success rate by 16% over state-of-the-art, achieving 87% of the expert performance while also reducing the collision rate by an order of magnitude without the use of any additional modality, auxiliary tasks, architectural modifications or reward from the environment.

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pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Slides Video 1 [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Slides Video 1 [BibTex]


Learning Situational Driving
Learning Situational Driving

Ohn-Bar, E., Prakash, A., Behl, A., Chitta, K., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Human drivers have a remarkable ability to drive in diverse visual conditions and situations, e.g., from maneuvering in rainy, limited visibility conditions with no lane markings to turning in a busy intersection while yielding to pedestrians. In contrast, we find that state-of-the-art sensorimotor driving models struggle when encountering diverse settings with varying relationships between observation and action. To generalize when making decisions across diverse conditions, humans leverage multiple types of situation-specific reasoning and learning strategies. Motivated by this observation, we develop a framework for learning a situational driving policy that effectively captures reasoning under varying types of scenarios. Our key idea is to learn a mixture model with a set of policies that can capture multiple driving modes. We first optimize the mixture model through behavior cloning, and show it to result in significant gains in terms of driving performance in diverse conditions. We then refine the model by directly optimizing for the driving task itself, i.e., supervised with the navigation task reward. Our method is more scalable than methods assuming access to privileged information, e.g., perception labels, as it only assumes demonstration and reward-based supervision. We achieve over 98% success rate on the CARLA driving benchmark as well as state-of-the-art performance on a newly introduced generalization benchmark.

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pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Slides [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Slides [BibTex]


On Joint Estimation of Pose, Geometry and svBRDF from a Handheld Scanner
On Joint Estimation of Pose, Geometry and svBRDF from a Handheld Scanner

Schmitt, C., Donne, S., Riegler, G., Koltun, V., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We propose a novel formulation for joint recovery of camera pose, object geometry and spatially-varying BRDF. The input to our approach is a sequence of RGB-D images captured by a mobile, hand-held scanner that actively illuminates the scene with point light sources. Compared to previous works that jointly estimate geometry and materials from a hand-held scanner, we formulate this problem using a single objective function that can be minimized using off-the-shelf gradient-based solvers. By integrating material clustering as a differentiable operation into the optimization process, we avoid pre-processing heuristics and demonstrate that our model is able to determine the correct number of specular materials independently. We provide a study on the importance of each component in our formulation and on the requirements of the initial geometry. We show that optimizing over the poses is crucial for accurately recovering fine details and that our approach naturally results in a semantically meaningful material segmentation.

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pdf Project Page Slides Video Poster [BibTex]

pdf Project Page Slides Video Poster [BibTex]


Intrinsic Autoencoders for Joint Neural Rendering and Intrinsic Image Decomposition
Intrinsic Autoencoders for Joint Neural Rendering and Intrinsic Image Decomposition

Hassan Alhaija, Siva Mustikovela, Varun Jampani, Justus Thies, Matthias Niessner, Andreas Geiger, Carsten Rother

In International Conference on 3D Vision (3DV), 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Neural rendering techniques promise efficient photo-realistic image synthesis while providing rich control over scene parameters by learning the physical image formation process. While several supervised methods have been pro-posed for this task, acquiring a dataset of images with accurately aligned 3D models is very difficult. The main contribution of this work is to lift this restriction by training a neural rendering algorithm from unpaired data. We pro-pose an auto encoder for joint generation of realistic images from synthetic 3D models while simultaneously decomposing real images into their intrinsic shape and appearance properties. In contrast to a traditional graphics pipeline, our approach does not require to specify all scene properties, such as material parameters and lighting by hand.Instead, we learn photo-realistic deferred rendering from a small set of 3D models and a larger set of unaligned real images, both of which are easy to acquire in practice. Simultaneously, we obtain accurate intrinsic decompositions of real images while not requiring paired ground truth. Our experiments confirm that a joint treatment of rendering and de-composition is indeed beneficial and that our approach out-performs state-of-the-art image-to-image translation base-lines both qualitatively and quantitatively.

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pdf suppmat [BibTex]

pdf suppmat [BibTex]


Differentiable Volumetric Rendering: Learning Implicit 3D Representations without 3D Supervision
Differentiable Volumetric Rendering: Learning Implicit 3D Representations without 3D Supervision

Niemeyer, M., Mescheder, L., Oechsle, M., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Learning-based 3D reconstruction methods have shown impressive results. However, most methods require 3D supervision which is often hard to obtain for real-world datasets. Recently, several works have proposed differentiable rendering techniques to train reconstruction models from RGB images. Unfortunately, these approaches are currently restricted to voxel- and mesh-based representations, suffering from discretization or low resolution. In this work, we propose a differentiable rendering formulation for implicit shape and texture representations. Implicit representations have recently gained popularity as they represent shape and texture continuously. Our key insight is that depth gradients can be derived analytically using the concept of implicit differentiation. This allows us to learn implicit shape and texture representations directly from RGB images. We experimentally show that our single-view reconstructions rival those learned with full 3D supervision. Moreover, we find that our method can be used for multi-view 3D reconstruction, directly resulting in watertight meshes.

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pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Video 3 Slides Poster [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Video 3 Slides Poster [BibTex]


Learning Implicit Surface Light Fields
Learning Implicit Surface Light Fields

Oechsle, M., Niemeyer, M., Reiser, C., Mescheder, L., Strauss, T., Geiger, A.

In International Conference on 3D Vision (3DV), 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Implicit representations of 3D objects have recently achieved impressive results on learning-based 3D reconstruction tasks. While existing works use simple texture models to represent object appearance, photo-realistic image synthesis requires reasoning about the complex interplay of light, geometry and surface properties. In this work, we propose a novel implicit representation for capturing the visual appearance of an object in terms of its surface light field. In contrast to existing representations, our implicit model represents surface light fields in a continuous fashion and independent of the geometry. Moreover, we condition the surface light field with respect to the location and color of a small light source. Compared to traditional surface light field models, this allows us to manipulate the light source and relight the object using environment maps. We further demonstrate the capabilities of our model to predict the visual appearance of an unseen object from a single real RGB image and corresponding 3D shape information. As evidenced by our experiments, our model is able to infer rich visual appearance including shadows and specular reflections. Finally, we show that the proposed representation can be embedded into a variational auto-encoder for generating novel appearances that conform to the specified illumination conditions.

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pdf suppmat Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Project Page [BibTex]

2014


Omnidirectional 3D Reconstruction in Augmented Manhattan Worlds
Omnidirectional 3D Reconstruction in Augmented Manhattan Worlds

Schoenbein, M., Geiger, A.

International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 716 - 723, IEEE, Chicago, IL, USA, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and System, October 2014 (conference)

Abstract
This paper proposes a method for high-quality omnidirectional 3D reconstruction of augmented Manhattan worlds from catadioptric stereo video sequences. In contrast to existing works we do not rely on constructing virtual perspective views, but instead propose to optimize depth jointly in a unified omnidirectional space. Furthermore, we show that plane-based prior models can be applied even though planes in 3D do not project to planes in the omnidirectional domain. Towards this goal, we propose an omnidirectional slanted-plane Markov random field model which relies on plane hypotheses extracted using a novel voting scheme for 3D planes in omnidirectional space. To quantitatively evaluate our method we introduce a dataset which we have captured using our autonomous driving platform AnnieWAY which we equipped with two horizontally aligned catadioptric cameras and a Velodyne HDL-64E laser scanner for precise ground truth depth measurements. As evidenced by our experiments, the proposed method clearly benefits from the unified view and significantly outperforms existing stereo matching techniques both quantitatively and qualitatively. Furthermore, our method is able to reduce noise and the obtained depth maps can be represented very compactly by a small number of image segments and plane parameters.

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pdf DOI [BibTex]

2014


pdf DOI [BibTex]


Probabilistic Progress Bars
Probabilistic Progress Bars

Kiefel, M., Schuler, C., Hennig, P.

In Conference on Pattern Recognition (GCPR), 8753, pages: 331-341, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, (Editors: Jiang, X., Hornegger, J., and Koch, R.), Springer, GCPR, September 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Predicting the time at which the integral over a stochastic process reaches a target level is a value of interest in many applications. Often, such computations have to be made at low cost, in real time. As an intuitive example that captures many features of this problem class, we choose progress bars, a ubiquitous element of computer user interfaces. These predictors are usually based on simple point estimators, with no error modelling. This leads to fluctuating behaviour confusing to the user. It also does not provide a distribution prediction (risk values), which are crucial for many other application areas. We construct and empirically evaluate a fast, constant cost algorithm using a Gauss-Markov process model which provides more information to the user.

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website+code pdf DOI [BibTex]

website+code pdf DOI [BibTex]


Robot Arm Pose Estimation through Pixel-Wise Part Classification
Robot Arm Pose Estimation through Pixel-Wise Part Classification

Bohg, J., Romero, J., Herzog, A., Schaal, S.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2014, pages: 3143-3150, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), June 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We propose to frame the problem of marker-less robot arm pose estimation as a pixel-wise part classification problem. As input, we use a depth image in which each pixel is classified to be either from a particular robot part or the background. The classifier is a random decision forest trained on a large number of synthetically generated and labeled depth images. From all the training samples ending up at a leaf node, a set of offsets is learned that votes for relative joint positions. Pooling these votes over all foreground pixels and subsequent clustering gives us an estimate of the true joint positions. Due to the intrinsic parallelism of pixel-wise classification, this approach can run in super real-time and is more efficient than previous ICP-like methods. We quantitatively evaluate the accuracy of this approach on synthetic data. We also demonstrate that the method produces accurate joint estimates on real data despite being purely trained on synthetic data.

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video code pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

video code pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Simultaneous Underwater Visibility Assessment, Enhancement and Improved Stereo
Simultaneous Underwater Visibility Assessment, Enhancement and Improved Stereo

Roser, M., Dunbabin, M., Geiger, A.

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 3840 - 3847 , Hong Kong, China, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, June 2014 (conference)

Abstract
Vision-based underwater navigation and obstacle avoidance demands robust computer vision algorithms, particularly for operation in turbid water with reduced visibility. This paper describes a novel method for the simultaneous underwater image quality assessment, visibility enhancement and disparity computation to increase stereo range resolution under dynamic, natural lighting and turbid conditions. The technique estimates the visibility properties from a sparse 3D map of the original degraded image using a physical underwater light attenuation model. Firstly, an iterated distance-adaptive image contrast enhancement enables a dense disparity computation and visibility estimation. Secondly, using a light attenuation model for ocean water, a color corrected stereo underwater image is obtained along with a visibility distance estimate. Experimental results in shallow, naturally lit, high-turbidity coastal environments show the proposed technique improves range estimation over the original images as well as image quality and color for habitat classification. Furthermore, the recursiveness and robustness of the technique allows real-time implementation onboard an Autonomous Underwater Vehicles for improved navigation and obstacle avoidance performance.

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pdf DOI [BibTex]

pdf DOI [BibTex]


Calibrating and Centering Quasi-Central Catadioptric Cameras
Calibrating and Centering Quasi-Central Catadioptric Cameras

Schoenbein, M., Strauss, T., Geiger, A.

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 4443 - 4450, Hong Kong, China, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, June 2014 (conference)

Abstract
Non-central catadioptric models are able to cope with irregular camera setups and inaccuracies in the manufacturing process but are computationally demanding and thus not suitable for robotic applications. On the other hand, calibrating a quasi-central (almost central) system with a central model introduces errors due to a wrong relationship between the viewing ray orientations and the pixels on the image sensor. In this paper, we propose a central approximation to quasi-central catadioptric camera systems that is both accurate and efficient. We observe that the distance to points in 3D is typically large compared to deviations from the single viewpoint. Thus, we first calibrate the system using a state-of-the-art non-central camera model. Next, we show that by remapping the observations we are able to match the orientation of the viewing rays of a much simpler single viewpoint model with the true ray orientations. While our approximation is general and applicable to all quasi-central camera systems, we focus on one of the most common cases in practice: hypercatadioptric cameras. We compare our model to a variety of baselines in synthetic and real localization and motion estimation experiments. We show that by using the proposed model we are able to achieve near non-central accuracy while obtaining speed-ups of more than three orders of magnitude compared to state-of-the-art non-central models.

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pdf DOI [BibTex]

pdf DOI [BibTex]


Probabilistic Solutions to Differential Equations and their Application to Riemannian Statistics
Probabilistic Solutions to Differential Equations and their Application to Riemannian Statistics

Hennig, P., Hauberg, S.

In Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, 33, pages: 347-355, JMLR: Workshop and Conference Proceedings, (Editors: S Kaski and J Corander), Microtome Publishing, Brookline, MA, AISTATS, April 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We study a probabilistic numerical method for the solution of both boundary and initial value problems that returns a joint Gaussian process posterior over the solution. Such methods have concrete value in the statistics on Riemannian manifolds, where non-analytic ordinary differential equations are involved in virtually all computations. The probabilistic formulation permits marginalising the uncertainty of the numerical solution such that statistics are less sensitive to inaccuracies. This leads to new Riemannian algorithms for mean value computations and principal geodesic analysis. Marginalisation also means results can be less precise than point estimates, enabling a noticeable speed-up over the state of the art. Our approach is an argument for a wider point that uncertainty caused by numerical calculations should be tracked throughout the pipeline of machine learning algorithms.

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pdf Youtube Supplements Project page link (url) [BibTex]

pdf Youtube Supplements Project page link (url) [BibTex]


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Probabilistic ODE Solvers with Runge-Kutta Means

Schober, M., Duvenaud, D., Hennig, P.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27, pages: 739-747, (Editors: Z. Ghahramani, M. Welling, C. Cortes, N.D. Lawrence and K.Q. Weinberger), Curran Associates, Inc., 28th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 2014 (inproceedings)

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Web link (url) [BibTex]

Web link (url) [BibTex]


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Active Learning of Linear Embeddings for Gaussian Processes

Garnett, R., Osborne, M., Hennig, P.

In Proceedings of the 30th Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence, pages: 230-239, (Editors: NL Zhang and J Tian), AUAI Press , Corvallis, Oregon, UAI2014, 2014, another link: http://arxiv.org/abs/1310.6740 (inproceedings)

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PDF Web [BibTex]

PDF Web [BibTex]


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Probabilistic Shortest Path Tractography in DTI Using Gaussian Process ODE Solvers

Schober, M., Kasenburg, N., Feragen, A., Hennig, P., Hauberg, S.

In Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention – MICCAI 2014, Lecture Notes in Computer Science Vol. 8675, pages: 265-272, (Editors: P. Golland, N. Hata, C. Barillot, J. Hornegger and R. Howe), Springer, Heidelberg, MICCAI, 2014 (inproceedings)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Sampling for Inference in Probabilistic Models with Fast Bayesian Quadrature

Gunter, T., Osborne, M., Garnett, R., Hennig, P., Roberts, S.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27, pages: 2789-2797, (Editors: Z. Ghahramani, M. Welling, C. Cortes, N.D. Lawrence and K.Q. Weinberger), Curran Associates, Inc., 28th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 2014 (inproceedings)

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Web link (url) [BibTex]

Web link (url) [BibTex]


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A Self-Tuning LQR Approach Demonstrated on an Inverted Pendulum

Trimpe, S., Millane, A., Doessegger, S., D’Andrea, R.

In Proceedings of the 19th IFAC World Congress, Cape Town, South Africa, 2014 (inproceedings)

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PDF Supplementary material DOI [BibTex]

PDF Supplementary material DOI [BibTex]


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Learning coupling terms for obstacle avoidance

Rai, A., Meier, F., Ijspeert, A., Schaal, S.

In International Conference on Humanoid Robotics, pages: 512-518, IEEE, 2014, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Autonomous manipulation in dynamic environments is important for robots to perform everyday tasks. For this, a manipulator should be capable of interpreting the environment and planning an appropriate movement. At least, two possible approaches exist for this in literature. Usually, a planning system is used to generate a complex movement plan that satisfies all constraints. Alternatively, a simple plan could be chosen and modified with sensory feedback to accommodate additional constraints by equipping the controller with features that remain dormant most of the time, except when specific situations arise. Dynamic Movement Primitives (DMPs) form a robust and versatile starting point for such a controller that can be modified online using a non-linear term, called the coupling term. This can prove to be a fast and reactive way of obstacle avoidance in a human-like fashion. We propose a method to learn this coupling term from human demonstrations starting with simple features and making it more robust to avoid a larger range of obstacles. We test the ability of our coupling term to model different kinds of obstacle avoidance behaviours in humans and use this learnt coupling term to avoid obstacles in a reactive manner. This line of research aims at pushing the boundary of reactive control strategies to more complex scenarios, such that complex and usually computationally more expensive planning methods can be avoided as much as possible.

am

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Incremental Local Gaussian Regression

Meier, F., Hennig, P., Schaal, S.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27, pages: 972-980, (Editors: Z. Ghahramani, M. Welling, C. Cortes, N.D. Lawrence and K.Q. Weinberger), 28th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 2014, clmc (inproceedings)

am ei pn

PDF link (url) [BibTex]

PDF link (url) [BibTex]


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Efficient Bayesian Local Model Learning for Control

Meier, F., Hennig, P., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 2244 - 2249, IROS, 2014, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Model-based control is essential for compliant controland force control in many modern complex robots, like humanoidor disaster robots. Due to many unknown and hard tomodel nonlinearities, analytical models of such robots are oftenonly very rough approximations. However, modern optimizationcontrollers frequently depend on reasonably accurate models,and degrade greatly in robustness and performance if modelerrors are too large. For a long time, machine learning hasbeen expected to provide automatic empirical model synthesis,yet so far, research has only generated feasibility studies butno learning algorithms that run reliably on complex robots.In this paper, we combine two promising worlds of regressiontechniques to generate a more powerful regression learningsystem. On the one hand, locally weighted regression techniquesare computationally efficient, but hard to tune due to avariety of data dependent meta-parameters. On the other hand,Bayesian regression has rather automatic and robust methods toset learning parameters, but becomes quickly computationallyinfeasible for big and high-dimensional data sets. By reducingthe complexity of Bayesian regression in the spirit of local modellearning through variational approximations, we arrive at anovel algorithm that is computationally efficient and easy toinitialize for robust learning. Evaluations on several datasetsdemonstrate very good learning performance and the potentialfor a general regression learning tool for robotics.

am ei pn

PDF link (url) DOI [BibTex]

PDF link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Stability Analysis of Distributed Event-Based State Estimation

Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the 53rd IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, Los Angeles, CA, 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
An approach for distributed and event-based state estimation that was proposed in previous work [1] is analyzed and extended to practical networked systems in this paper. Multiple sensor-actuator-agents observe a dynamic process, sporadically exchange their measurements over a broadcast network according to an event-based protocol, and estimate the process state from the received data. The event-based approach was shown in [1] to mimic a centralized Luenberger observer up to guaranteed bounds, under the assumption of identical estimates on all agents. This assumption, however, is unrealistic (it is violated by a single packet drop or slight numerical inaccuracy) and removed herein. By means of a simulation example, it is shown that non-identical estimates can actually destabilize the overall system. To achieve stability, the event-based communication scheme is supplemented by periodic (but infrequent) exchange of the agentsâ?? estimates and reset to their joint average. When the local estimates are used for feedback control, the stability guarantee for the estimation problem extends to the event-based control system.

am ics

PDF Supplementary material DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF Supplementary material DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Dual Execution of Optimized Contact Interaction Trajectories

Toussaint, M., Ratliff, N., Bohg, J., Righetti, L., Englert, P., Schaal, S.

In 2014 IEEE/RSJ Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 47-54, IEEE, Chicago, USA, 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Efficient manipulation requires contact to reduce uncertainty. The manipulation literature refers to this as funneling: a methodology for increasing reliability and robustness by leveraging haptic feedback and control of environmental interaction. However, there is a fundamental gap between traditional approaches to trajectory optimization and this concept of robustness by funneling: traditional trajectory optimizers do not discover force feedback strategies. From a POMDP perspective, these behaviors could be regarded as explicit observation actions planned to sufficiently reduce uncertainty thereby enabling a task. While we are sympathetic to the full POMDP view, solving full continuous-space POMDPs in high-dimensions is hard. In this paper, we propose an alternative approach in which trajectory optimization objectives are augmented with new terms that reward uncertainty reduction through contacts, explicitly promoting funneling. This augmentation shifts the responsibility of robustness toward the actual execution of the optimized trajectories. Directly tracing trajectories through configuration space would lose all robustness-dual execution achieves robustness by devising force controllers to reproduce the temporal interaction profile encoded in the dual solution of the optimization problem. This work introduces dual execution in depth and analyze its performance through robustness experiments in both simulation and on a real-world robotic platform.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Learning and Exploration in a Novel Dimensionality-Reduction Task

Ebert, J, Kim, S, Schweighofer, N., Sternad, D, Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2009), Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2014 (inproceedings)

am

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Balancing experiments on a torque-controlled humanoid with hierarchical inverse dynamics

Herzog, A., Righetti, L., Grimminger, F., Pastor, P., Schaal, S.

In 2014 IEEE/RSJ Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 981-988, IEEE, Chicago, USA, 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Recently several hierarchical inverse dynamics controllers based on cascades of quadratic programs have been proposed for application on torque controlled robots. They have important theoretical benefits but have never been implemented on a torque controlled robot where model inaccuracies and real-time computation requirements can be problematic. In this contribution we present an experimental evaluation of these algorithms in the context of balance control for a humanoid robot. The presented experiments demonstrate the applicability of the approach under real robot conditions (i.e. model uncertainty, estimation errors, etc). We propose a simplification of the optimization problem that allows us to decrease computation time enough to implement it in a fast torque control loop. We implement a momentum-based balance controller which shows robust performance in face of unknown disturbances, even when the robot is standing on only one foot. In a second experiment, a tracking task is evaluated to demonstrate the performance of the controller with more complicated hierarchies. Our results show that hierarchical inverse dynamics controllers can be used for feedback control of humanoid robots and that momentum-based balance control can be efficiently implemented on a real robot.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Full Dynamics LQR Control of a Humanoid Robot: An Experimental Study on Balancing and Squatting

Mason, S., Righetti, L., Schaal, S.

In 2014 IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, pages: 374-379, IEEE, Madrid, Spain, 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Humanoid robots operating in human environments require whole-body controllers that can offer precise tracking and well-defined disturbance rejection behavior. In this contribution, we propose an experimental evaluation of a linear quadratic regulator (LQR) using a linearization of the full robot dynamics together with the contact constraints. The advantage of the controller is that it explicitly takes into account the coupling between the different joints to create optimal feedback controllers for whole-body control. We also propose a method to explicitly regulate other tasks of interest, such as the regulation of the center of mass of the robot or its angular momentum. In order to evaluate the performance of linear optimal control designs in a real-world scenario (model uncertainty, sensor noise, imperfect state estimation, etc), we test the controllers in a variety of tracking and balancing experiments on a torque controlled humanoid (e.g. balancing, split plane balancing, squatting, pushes while squatting, and balancing on a wheeled platform). The proposed control framework shows a reliable push recovery behavior competitive with more sophisticated balance controllers, rejecting impulses up to 11.7 Ns with peak forces of 650 N, with the added advantage of great computational simplicity. Furthermore, the controller is able to track squatting trajectories up to 1 Hz without relinearization, suggesting that the linearized dynamics is sufficient for significant ranges of motion.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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State Estimation for a Humanoid Robot

Rotella, N., Bloesch, M., Righetti, L., Schaal, S.

In 2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 952-958, IEEE, Chicago, USA, 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper introduces a framework for state estimation on a humanoid robot platform using only common proprioceptive sensors and knowledge of leg kinematics. The presented approach extends that detailed in prior work on a point-foot quadruped platform by adding the rotational constraints imposed by the humanoid's flat feet. As in previous work, the proposed Extended Kalman Filter accommodates contact switching and makes no assumptions about gait or terrain, making it applicable on any humanoid platform for use in any task. A nonlinear observability analysis is performed on both the point-foot and flat-foot filters and it is concluded that the addition of rotational constraints significantly simplifies singular cases and improves the observability characteristics of the system. Results on a simulated walking dataset demonstrate the performance gain of the flat-foot filter as well as confirm the results of the presented observability analysis.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2006


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Learning operational space control

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Robotics: Science and Systems II (RSS 2006), pages: 255-262, (Editors: Gaurav S. Sukhatme and Stefan Schaal and Wolfram Burgard and Dieter Fox), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, RSS , 2006, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
While operational space control is of essential importance for robotics and well-understood from an analytical point of view, it can be prohibitively hard to achieve accurate control in face of modeling errors, which are inevitable in complex robots, e.g., humanoid robots. In such cases, learning control methods can offer an interesting alternative to analytical control algorithms. However, the resulting learning problem is ill-defined as it requires to learn an inverse mapping of a usually redundant system, which is well known to suffer from the property of non-covexity of the solution space, i.e., the learning system could generate motor commands that try to steer the robot into physically impossible configurations. A first important insight for this paper is that, nevertheless, a physically correct solution to the inverse problem does exits when learning of the inverse map is performed in a suitable piecewise linear way. The second crucial component for our work is based on a recent insight that many operational space controllers can be understood in terms of a constraint optimal control problem. The cost function associated with this optimal control problem allows us to formulate a learning algorithm that automatically synthesizes a globally consistent desired resolution of redundancy while learning the operational space controller. From the view of machine learning, the learning problem corresponds to a reinforcement learning problem that maximizes an immediate reward and that employs an expectation-maximization policy search algorithm. Evaluations on a three degrees of freedom robot arm illustrate the feasability of our suggested approach.

am ei

link (url) [BibTex]

2006


link (url) [BibTex]


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Reinforcement Learning for Parameterized Motor Primitives

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 2006 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks, pages: 73-80, IJCNN, 2006, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
One of the major challenges in both action generation for robotics and in the understanding of human motor control is to learn the "building blocks of movement generation", called motor primitives. Motor primitives, as used in this paper, are parameterized control policies such as splines or nonlinear differential equations with desired attractor properties. While a lot of progress has been made in teaching parameterized motor primitives using supervised or imitation learning, the self-improvement by interaction of the system with the environment remains a challenging problem. In this paper, we evaluate different reinforcement learning approaches for improving the performance of parameterized motor primitives. For pursuing this goal, we highlight the difficulties with current reinforcement learning methods, and outline both established and novel algorithms for the gradient-based improvement of parameterized policies. We compare these algorithms in the context of motor primitive learning, and show that our most modern algorithm, the Episodic Natural Actor-Critic outperforms previous algorithms by at least an order of magnitude. We demonstrate the efficiency of this reinforcement learning method in the application of learning to hit a baseball with an anthropomorphic robot arm.

am ei

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Statistical Learning of LQG controllers

Theodorou, E.

Technical Report-2006-1, Computational Action and Vision Lab University of Minnesota, 2006, clmc (techreport)

am

PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]

1998


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Programmable pattern generators

Schaal, S., Sternad, D.

In 3rd International Conference on Computational Intelligence in Neuroscience, pages: 48-51, Research Triangle Park, NC, Oct. 24-28, October 1998, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper explores the idea to create complex human-like arm movements from movement primitives based on nonlinear attractor dynamics. Each degree-of-freedom of an arm is assumed to have two independent abilities to create movement, one through a discrete dynamic system, and one through a rhythmic system. The discrete system creates point-to-point movements based on internal or external target specifications. The rhythmic system can add an additional oscillatory movement relative to the current position of the discrete system. In the present study, we develop appropriate dynamic systems that can realize the above model, motivate the particular choice of the systems from a biological and engineering point of view, and present simulation results of the performance of such movement primitives. Implementation results on a Sarcos Dexterous Arm are discussed.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

1998


link (url) [BibTex]


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Robust local learning in high dimensional spaces

Vijayakumar, S., Schaal, S.

In 5th Joint Symposium on Neural Computation, pages: 186-193, Institute for Neural Computation, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, 1998, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Incremental learning of sensorimotor transformations in high dimensional spaces is one of the basic prerequisites for the success of autonomous robot devices as well as biological movement systems. So far, due to sparsity of data in high dimensional spaces, learning in such settings requires a significant amount of prior knowledge about the learning task, usually provided by a human expert. In this paper, we suggest a partial revision of this view. Based on empirical studies, we observed that, despite being globally high dimensional and sparse, data distributions from physical movement systems are locally low dimensional and dense. Under this assumption, we derive a learning algorithm, Locally Adaptive Subspace Regression, that exploits this property by combining a dynamically growing local dimensionality reduction technique as a preprocessing step with a nonparametric learning technique, locally weighted regression, that also learns the region of validity of the regression. The usefulness of the algorithm and the validity of its assumptions are illustrated for a synthetic data set, and for data of the inverse dynamics of human arm movements and an actual 7 degree-of-freedom anthropomorphic robot arm.

am

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Local dimensionality reduction

Schaal, S., Vijayakumar, S., Atkeson, C. G.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 10, pages: 633-639, (Editors: Jordan, M. I.;Kearns, M. J.;Solla, S. A.), MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1998, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
If globally high dimensional data has locally only low dimensional distributions, it is advantageous to perform a local dimensionality reduction before further processing the data. In this paper we examine several techniques for local dimensionality reduction in the context of locally weighted linear regression. As possible candidates, we derive local versions of factor analysis regression, principle component regression, principle component regression on joint distributions, and partial least squares regression. After outlining the statistical bases of these methods, we perform Monte Carlo simulations to evaluate their robustness with respect to violations of their statistical assumptions. One surprising outcome is that locally weighted partial least squares regression offers the best average results, thus outperforming even factor analysis, the theoretically most appealing of our candidate techniques.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Biomimetic gaze stabilization based on a study of the vestibulocerebellum

Shibata, T., Schaal, S.

In European Workshop on Learning Robots, pages: 84-94, Edinburgh, UK, 1998, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Accurate oculomotor control is one of the essential pre-requisites for successful visuomotor coordination. In this paper, we suggest a biologically inspired control system for learning gaze stabilization with a biomimetic robotic oculomotor system. In a stepwise fashion, we develop a control circuit for the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) and the opto-kinetic response (OKR), and add a nonlinear learning network to allow adaptivity. We discuss the parallels and differences of our system with biological oculomotor control and suggest solutions how to deal with nonlinearities and time delays in the control system. In simulation and actual robot studies, we demonstrate that our system can learn gaze stabilization in real time in only a few seconds with high final accuracy.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Towards biomimetic vision

Shibata, T., Schaal, S.

In International Conference on Intelligence Robots and Systems, pages: 872-879, Victoria, Canada, 1998, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Oculomotor control is the foundation of most biological visual systems, as well as an important component in the entire perceptual-motor system. We review some of the most basic principles of biological oculomotor systems, and explore their usefulness from both the biological and computational point of view. As an example of biomimetic oculomotor control, we present the state of our implementations and experimental results using the vestibulo-ocular-reflex and opto-kinetic-reflex paradigm

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]