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2018


Probabilistic Recurrent State-Space Models
Probabilistic Recurrent State-Space Models

Doerr, A., Daniel, C., Schiegg, M., Nguyen-Tuong, D., Schaal, S., Toussaint, M., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), July 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
State-space models (SSMs) are a highly expressive model class for learning patterns in time series data and for system identification. Deterministic versions of SSMs (e.g., LSTMs) proved extremely successful in modeling complex time-series data. Fully probabilistic SSMs, however, unfortunately often prove hard to train, even for smaller problems. To overcome this limitation, we propose a scalable initialization and training algorithm based on doubly stochastic variational inference and Gaussian processes. In the variational approximation we propose in contrast to related approaches to fully capture the latent state temporal correlations to allow for robust training.

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arXiv pdf Project Page [BibTex]

2018


arXiv pdf Project Page [BibTex]


Online Learning of a Memory for Learning Rates
Online Learning of a Memory for Learning Rates

(nominated for best paper award)

Meier, F., Kappler, D., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2018, IEEE, International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2018, accepted (inproceedings)

Abstract
The promise of learning to learn for robotics rests on the hope that by extracting some information about the learning process itself we can speed up subsequent similar learning tasks. Here, we introduce a computationally efficient online meta-learning algorithm that builds and optimizes a memory model of the optimal learning rate landscape from previously observed gradient behaviors. While performing task specific optimization, this memory of learning rates predicts how to scale currently observed gradients. After applying the gradient scaling our meta-learner updates its internal memory based on the observed effect its prediction had. Our meta-learner can be combined with any gradient-based optimizer, learns on the fly and can be transferred to new optimization tasks. In our evaluations we show that our meta-learning algorithm speeds up learning of MNIST classification and a variety of learning control tasks, either in batch or online learning settings.

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pdf video code [BibTex]

pdf video code [BibTex]


Learning Sensor Feedback Models from Demonstrations via Phase-Modulated Neural Networks
Learning Sensor Feedback Models from Demonstrations via Phase-Modulated Neural Networks

Sutanto, G., Su, Z., Schaal, S., Meier, F.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2018, IEEE, International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2018 (inproceedings)

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pdf video [BibTex]

pdf video [BibTex]


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On Time Optimization of Centroidal Momentum Dynamics

Ponton, B., Herzog, A., Del Prete, A., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 5776-5782, IEEE, Brisbane, Australia, 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Recently, the centroidal momentum dynamics has received substantial attention to plan dynamically consistent motions for robots with arms and legs in multi-contact scenarios. However, it is also non convex which renders any optimization approach difficult and timing is usually kept fixed in most trajectory optimization techniques to not introduce additional non convexities to the problem. But this can limit the versatility of the algorithms. In our previous work, we proposed a convex relaxation of the problem that allowed to efficiently compute momentum trajectories and contact forces. However, our approach could not minimize a desired angular momentum objective which seriously limited its applicability. Noticing that the non-convexity introduced by the time variables is of similar nature as the centroidal dynamics one, we propose two convex relaxations to the problem based on trust regions and soft constraints. The resulting approaches can compute time-optimized dynamically consistent trajectories sufficiently fast to make the approach realtime capable. The performance of the algorithm is demonstrated in several multi-contact scenarios for a humanoid robot. In particular, we show that the proposed convex relaxation of the original problem finds solutions that are consistent with the original non-convex problem and illustrate how timing optimization allows to find motion plans that would be difficult to plan with fixed timing † †Implementation details and demos can be found in the source code available at https://git-amd.tuebingen.mpg.de/bponton/timeoptimization.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Enhanced Non-Steady Gliding Performance of the MultiMo-Bat through Optimal Airfoil Configuration and Control Strategy

Kim, H., Woodward, M. A., Sitti, M.

In 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pages: 1382-1388, 2018 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Collectives of Spinning Mobile Microrobots for Navigation and Object Manipulation at the Air-Water Interface

Wang, W., Kishore, V., Koens, L., Lauga, E., Sitti, M.

In 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pages: 1-9, 2018 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Endo-VMFuseNet: A Deep Visual-Magnetic Sensor Fusion Approach for Endoscopic Capsule Robots

Turan, M., Almalioglu, Y., Gilbert, H. B., Sari, A. E., Soylu, U., Sitti, M.

In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 1-7, 2018 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Endosensorfusion: Particle filtering-based multi-sensory data fusion with switching state-space model for endoscopic capsule robots

Turan, M., Almalioglu, Y., Gilbert, H., Araujo, H., Cemgil, T., Sitti, M.

In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 1-8, 2018 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Unsupervised Contact Learning for Humanoid Estimation and Control

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

In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 411-417, IEEE, Brisbane, Australia, 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This work presents a method for contact state estimation using fuzzy clustering to learn contact probability for full, six-dimensional humanoid contacts. The data required for training is solely from proprioceptive sensors - endeffector contact wrench sensors and inertial measurement units (IMUs) - and the method is completely unsupervised. The resulting cluster means are used to efficiently compute the probability of contact in each of the six endeffector degrees of freedom (DoFs) independently. This clustering-based contact probability estimator is validated in a kinematics-based base state estimator in a simulation environment with realistic added sensor noise for locomotion over rough, low-friction terrain on which the robot is subject to foot slip and rotation. The proposed base state estimator which utilizes these six DoF contact probability estimates is shown to perform considerably better than that which determines kinematic contact constraints purely based on measured normal force.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Learning Task-Specific Dynamics to Improve Whole-Body Control

Gams, A., Mason, S., Ude, A., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In Hua, IEEE, Beijing, China, November 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In task-based inverse dynamics control, reference accelerations used to follow a desired plan can be broken down into feedforward and feedback trajectories. The feedback term accounts for tracking errors that are caused from inaccurate dynamic models or external disturbances. On underactuated, free-floating robots, such as humanoids, high feedback terms can be used to improve tracking accuracy; however, this can lead to very stiff behavior or poor tracking accuracy due to limited control bandwidth. In this paper, we show how to reduce the required contribution of the feedback controller by incorporating learned task-space reference accelerations. Thus, we i) improve the execution of the given specific task, and ii) offer the means to reduce feedback gains, providing for greater compliance of the system. With a systematic approach we also reduce heuristic tuning of the model parameters and feedback gains, often present in real-world experiments. In contrast to learning task-specific joint-torques, which might produce a similar effect but can lead to poor generalization, our approach directly learns the task-space dynamics of the center of mass of a humanoid robot. Simulated and real-world results on the lower part of the Sarcos Hermes humanoid robot demonstrate the applicability of the approach.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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An MPC Walking Framework With External Contact Forces

Mason, S., Rotella, N., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 1785-1790, IEEE, Brisbane, Australia, May 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this work, we present an extension to a linear Model Predictive Control (MPC) scheme that plans external contact forces for the robot when given multiple contact locations and their corresponding friction cone. To this end, we set up a two-step optimization problem. In the first optimization, we compute the Center of Mass (CoM) trajectory, foot step locations, and introduce slack variables to account for violating the imposed constraints on the Zero Moment Point (ZMP). We then use the slack variables to trigger the second optimization, in which we calculate the optimal external force that compensates for the ZMP tracking error. This optimization considers multiple contacts positions within the environment by formulating the problem as a Mixed Integer Quadratic Program (MIQP) that can be solved at a speed between 100-300 Hz. Once contact is created, the MIQP reduces to a single Quadratic Program (QP) that can be solved in real-time ({\textless}; 1kHz). Simulations show that the presented walking control scheme can withstand disturbances 2-3× larger with the additional force provided by a hand contact.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2017


Multi-Modal Imitation Learning from Unstructured Demonstrations using Generative Adversarial Nets
Multi-Modal Imitation Learning from Unstructured Demonstrations using Generative Adversarial Nets

Hausman, K., Chebotar, Y., Schaal, S., Sukhatme, G., Lim, J.

In Proceedings from the conference "Neural Information Processing Systems 2017., (Editors: Guyon I. and Luxburg U.v. and Bengio S. and Wallach H. and Fergus R. and Vishwanathan S. and Garnett R.), Curran Associates, Inc., Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 30 (NIPS), December 2017 (inproceedings)

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pdf video [BibTex]

2017


pdf video [BibTex]


On the Design of {LQR} Kernels for Efficient Controller Learning
On the Design of LQR Kernels for Efficient Controller Learning

Marco, A., Hennig, P., Schaal, S., Trimpe, S.

Proceedings of the 56th IEEE Annual Conference on Decision and Control (CDC), pages: 5193-5200, IEEE, IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, December 2017 (conference)

Abstract
Finding optimal feedback controllers for nonlinear dynamic systems from data is hard. Recently, Bayesian optimization (BO) has been proposed as a powerful framework for direct controller tuning from experimental trials. For selecting the next query point and finding the global optimum, BO relies on a probabilistic description of the latent objective function, typically a Gaussian process (GP). As is shown herein, GPs with a common kernel choice can, however, lead to poor learning outcomes on standard quadratic control problems. For a first-order system, we construct two kernels that specifically leverage the structure of the well-known Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR), yet retain the flexibility of Bayesian nonparametric learning. Simulations of uncertain linear and nonlinear systems demonstrate that the LQR kernels yield superior learning performance.

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arXiv PDF On the Design of LQR Kernels for Efficient Controller Learning - CDC presentation DOI Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv PDF On the Design of LQR Kernels for Efficient Controller Learning - CDC presentation DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Optimizing Long-term Predictions for Model-based Policy Search
Optimizing Long-term Predictions for Model-based Policy Search

Doerr, A., Daniel, C., Nguyen-Tuong, D., Marco, A., Schaal, S., Toussaint, M., Trimpe, S.

Proceedings of 1st Annual Conference on Robot Learning (CoRL), 78, pages: 227-238, (Editors: Sergey Levine and Vincent Vanhoucke and Ken Goldberg), 1st Annual Conference on Robot Learning, November 2017 (conference)

Abstract
We propose a novel long-term optimization criterion to improve the robustness of model-based reinforcement learning in real-world scenarios. Learning a dynamics model to derive a solution promises much greater data-efficiency and reusability compared to model-free alternatives. In practice, however, modelbased RL suffers from various imperfections such as noisy input and output data, delays and unmeasured (latent) states. To achieve higher resilience against such effects, we propose to optimize a generative long-term prediction model directly with respect to the likelihood of observed trajectories as opposed to the common approach of optimizing a dynamics model for one-step-ahead predictions. We evaluate the proposed method on several artificial and real-world benchmark problems and compare it to PILCO, a model-based RL framework, in experiments on a manipulation robot. The results show that the proposed method is competitive compared to state-of-the-art model learning methods. In contrast to these more involved models, our model can directly be employed for policy search and outperforms a baseline method in the robot experiment.

am ics

PDF Project Page [BibTex]

PDF Project Page [BibTex]


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A New Data Source for Inverse Dynamics Learning

Kappler, D., Meier, F., Ratliff, N., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), September 2017 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Bayesian Regression for Artifact Correction in Electroencephalography

Fiebig, K., Jayaram, V., Hesse, T., Blank, A., Peters, J., Grosse-Wentrup, M.

Proceedings of the 7th Graz Brain-Computer Interface Conference 2017 - From Vision to Reality, pages: 131-136, (Editors: Müller-Putz G.R., Steyrl D., Wriessnegger S. C., Scherer R.), Graz University of Technology, Austria, Graz Brain-Computer Interface Conference, September 2017 (conference)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Investigating Music Imagery as a Cognitive Paradigm for Low-Cost Brain-Computer Interfaces

Grossberger, L., Hohmann, M. R., Peters, J., Grosse-Wentrup, M.

Proceedings of the 7th Graz Brain-Computer Interface Conference 2017 - From Vision to Reality, pages: 160-164, (Editors: Müller-Putz G.R., Steyrl D., Wriessnegger S. C., Scherer R.), Graz University of Technology, Austria, Graz Brain-Computer Interface Conference, September 2017 (conference)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


On the relevance of grasp metrics for predicting grasp success
On the relevance of grasp metrics for predicting grasp success

Rubert, C., Kappler, D., Morales, A., Schaal, S., Bohg, J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference of Intelligent Robots and Systems, September 2017 (inproceedings) Accepted

Abstract
We aim to reliably predict whether a grasp on a known object is successful before it is executed in the real world. There is an entire suite of grasp metrics that has already been developed which rely on precisely known contact points between object and hand. However, it remains unclear whether and how they may be combined into a general purpose grasp stability predictor. In this paper, we analyze these questions by leveraging a large scale database of simulated grasps on a wide variety of objects. For each grasp, we compute the value of seven metrics. Each grasp is annotated by human subjects with ground truth stability labels. Given this data set, we train several classification methods to find out whether there is some underlying, non-trivial structure in the data that is difficult to model manually but can be learned. Quantitative and qualitative results show the complexity of the prediction problem. We found that a good prediction performance critically depends on using a combination of metrics as input features. Furthermore, non-parametric and non-linear classifiers best capture the structure in the data.

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Swimming in low reynolds numbers using planar and helical flagellar waves

Khalil, I. S. M., Tabak, A. F., Seif, M. A., Klingner, A., Adel, B., Sitti, M.

In International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) 2017, pages: 1907-1912, International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, September 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In travelling towards the oviducts, sperm cells undergo transitions between planar to helical flagellar propulsion by a beating tail based on the viscosity of the environment. In this work, we aim to model and mimic this behaviour in low Reynolds number fluids using externally actuated soft robotic sperms. We numerically investigate the effects of transition between planar to helical flagellar propulsion on the swimming characteristics of the robotic sperm using a model based on resistive-force theory to study the role of viscous forces on its flexible tail. Experimental results are obtained using robots that contain magnetic particles within the polymer matrix of its head and an ultra-thin flexible tail. The planar and helical flagellar propulsion are achieved using in-plane and out-of-plane uniform fields with sinusoidally varying components, respectively. We experimentally show that the swimming speed of the robotic sperm increases by a factor of 1.4 (fluid viscosity 5 Pa.s) when it undergoes a controlled transition between planar to helical flagellar propulsion, at relatively low actuation frequencies.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Local Bayesian Optimization of Motor Skills

Akrour, R., Sorokin, D., Peters, J., Neumann, G.

Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Machine Learning, 70, pages: 41-50, Proceedings of Machine Learning Research, (Editors: Doina Precup, Yee Whye Teh), PMLR, International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), August 2017 (conference)

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


Combining Model-Based and Model-Free Updates for Trajectory-Centric Reinforcement Learning
Combining Model-Based and Model-Free Updates for Trajectory-Centric Reinforcement Learning

Chebotar, Y., Hausman, K., Zhang, M., Sukhatme, G., Schaal, S., Levine, S.

Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Machine Learning, 70, Proceedings of Machine Learning Research, (Editors: Doina Precup, Yee Whye Teh), PMLR, International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), August 2017 (conference)

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pdf video [BibTex]

pdf video [BibTex]


An XY ϴz flexure mechanism with optimal stiffness properties
An XY ϴz flexure mechanism with optimal stiffness properties

Lum, G. Z., Pham, M. T., Teo, T. J., Yang, G., Yeo, S. H., Sitti, M.

In 2017 IEEE International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM), pages: 1103-1110, July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The development of optimal XY θz flexure mechanisms, which can deliver high precision motion about the z-axis, and along the x- and y-axes is highly desirable for a wide range of micro/nano-positioning tasks pertaining to biomedical research, microscopy technologies and various industrial applications. Although maximizing the stiffness ratios is a very critical design requirement, the achievable translational and rotational stiffness ratios of existing XY θz flexure mechanisms are still restricted between 0.5 and 130. As a result, these XY θz flexure mechanisms are unable to fully optimize their workspace and capabilities to reject disturbances. Here, we present an optimal XY θz flexure mechanism, which is designed to have maximum stiffness ratios. Based on finite element analysis (FEA), it has translational stiffness ratio of 248, rotational stiffness ratio of 238 and a large workspace of 2.50 mm × 2.50 mm × 10°. Despite having such a large workspace, FEA also predicts that the proposed mechanism can still achieve a high bandwidth of 70 Hz. In comparison, the bandwidth of similar existing flexure mechanisms that can deflect more than 0.5 mm or 0.5° is typically less than 45 Hz. Hence, the high stiffness ratios of the proposed mechanism are achieved without compromising its dynamic performance. Preliminary experimental results pertaining to the mechanism's translational actuating stiffness and bandwidth were in agreement with the FEA predictions as the deviation was within 10%. In conclusion, the proposed flexure mechanism exhibits superior performance and can be used across a wide range of applications.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Positioning of drug carriers using permanent magnet-based robotic system in three-dimensional space
Positioning of drug carriers using permanent magnet-based robotic system in three-dimensional space

Khalil, I. S. M., Alfar, A., Tabak, A. F., Klingner, A., Stramigioli, S., Sitti, M.

In 2017 IEEE International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM), pages: 1117-1122, July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Magnetic control of drug carriers using systems with open-configurations is essential to enable scaling to the size of in vivo applications. In this study, we demonstrate motion control of paramagnetic microparticles in a low Reynolds number fluid, using a permanent magnet-based robotic system with an open-configuration. The microparticles are controlled in three-dimensional (3D) space using a cylindrical NdFeB magnet that is fixed to the end-effector of a robotic arm. We develop a kinematic map between the position of the microparticles and the configuration of the robotic arm, and use this map as a basis of a closed-loop control system based on the position of the microparticles. Our experimental results show the ability of the robot configuration to control the exerted field gradient on the dipole of the microparticles, and achieve positioning in 3D space with maximum error of 300 µm and 600 µm in the steady-state during setpoint and trajectory tracking, respectively.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Self-assembly of micro/nanosystems across scales and interfaces

Mastrangeli, M.

In 2017 19th International Conference on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems (TRANSDUCERS), pages: 676 - 681, IEEE, July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Steady progress in understanding and implementation are establishing self-assembly as a versatile, parallel and scalable approach to the fabrication of transducers. In this contribution, I illustrate the principles and reach of self-assembly with three applications at different scales - namely, the capillary self-alignment of millimetric components, the sealing of liquid-filled polymeric microcapsules, and the accurate capillary assembly of single nanoparticles - and propose foreseeable directions for further developments.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Dynamic analysis on hexapedal water-running robot with compliant joints
Dynamic analysis on hexapedal water-running robot with compliant joints

Kim, H., Liu, Y., Jeong, K., Sitti, M., Seo, T.

In 2017 14th International Conference on Ubiquitous Robots and Ambient Intelligence (URAI), pages: 250-251, June 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The dynamic analysis has been considered as one of the important design methods to design robots. In this research, we derive dynamic equation of hexapedal water-running robot to design compliant joints. The compliant joints that connect three bodies will be used to improve mobility and stability of water-running motion's pitch behavior. We considered all of parts as rigid body including links of six Klann mechanisms and three main frames. And then, we derived dynamic equation by using the Lagrangian method with external force of the water. We are expecting that the dynamic analysis is going to be used to design parts of the water running robot.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Model-Based Policy Search for Automatic Tuning of Multivariate PID Controllers
Model-Based Policy Search for Automatic Tuning of Multivariate PID Controllers

Doerr, A., Nguyen-Tuong, D., Marco, A., Schaal, S., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 5295-5301, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2017 (inproceedings)

am ics

PDF arXiv DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF arXiv DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Learning Feedback Terms for Reactive Planning and Control
Learning Feedback Terms for Reactive Planning and Control

Rai, A., Sutanto, G., Schaal, S., Meier, F.

Proceedings 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2017 (conference)

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pdf video [BibTex]

pdf video [BibTex]


Design and actuation of a magnetic millirobot under a constant unidirectional magnetic field
Design and actuation of a magnetic millirobot under a constant unidirectional magnetic field

Erin, O., Giltinan, J., Tsai, L., Sitti, M.

In Proceedings 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 3404-3410, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Magnetic untethered millirobots, which are actuated and controlled by remote magnetic fields, have been proposed for medical applications due to their ability to safely pass through tissues at long ranges. For example, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems with a 3-7 T constant unidirectional magnetic field and 3D gradient coils have been used to actuate magnetic robots. Such magnetically constrained systems place limits on the degrees of freedom that can be actuated for untethered devices. This paper presents a design and actuation methodology for a magnetic millirobot that exhibits both position and orientation control in 2D under a magnetic field, dominated by a constant unidirectional magnetic field as found in MRI systems. Placing a spherical permanent magnet, which is free to rotate inside the millirobot and located away from the center of mass, allows the generation of net forces and torques with applied 3D magnetic field gradients. We model this system in a 3D planar case and experimentally demonstrate open-loop control of both position and orientation by the applied 2D field gradients. The actuation performance is characterized across the most important design variables, and we experimentally demonstrate that the proposed approach is feasible.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Virtual vs. {R}eal: Trading Off Simulations and Physical Experiments in Reinforcement Learning with {B}ayesian Optimization
Virtual vs. Real: Trading Off Simulations and Physical Experiments in Reinforcement Learning with Bayesian Optimization

Marco, A., Berkenkamp, F., Hennig, P., Schoellig, A. P., Krause, A., Schaal, S., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 1557-1563, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2017 (inproceedings)

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PDF arXiv ICRA 2017 Spotlight presentation Virtual vs. Real - Video explanation DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF arXiv ICRA 2017 Spotlight presentation Virtual vs. Real - Video explanation DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Magnetically actuated soft capsule endoscope for fine-needle aspiration biopsy
Magnetically actuated soft capsule endoscope for fine-needle aspiration biopsy

Son, D., Dogan, M. D., Sitti, M.

In Proceedings 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 1132-1139, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper presents a magnetically actuated soft capsule endoscope for fine-needle aspiration biopsy (B-MASCE) in the upper gastrointestinal tract. A thin and hollow needle is attached to the capsule, which can penetrate deeply into tissues to obtain subsurface biopsy sample. The design utilizes a soft elastomer body as a compliant mechanism to guide the needle. An internal permanent magnet provides a means for both actuation and tracking. The capsule is designed to roll towards its target and then deploy the biopsy needle in a precise location selected as the target area. B-MASCE is controlled by multiple custom-designed electromagnets while its position and orientation are tracked by a magnetic sensor array. In in vitro trials, B-MASCE demonstrated rolling locomotion and biopsy of a swine tissue model positioned inside an anatomical human stomach model. It was confirmed after the experiment that a tissue sample was retained inside the needle.

pi

DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


The use of clamping grips and friction pads by tree frogs for climbing curved surfaces
The use of clamping grips and friction pads by tree frogs for climbing curved surfaces

Endlein, T., Ji, A., Yuan, S., Hill, I., Wang, H., Barnes, W. J. P., Dai, Z., Sitti, M.

In Proc. R. Soc. B, 284(1849):20162867, Febuary 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Most studies on the adhesive mechanisms of climbing animals have addressed attachment against flat surfaces, yet many animals can climb highly curved surfaces, like twigs and small branches. Here we investigated whether tree frogs use a clamping grip by recording the ground reaction forces on a cylindrical object with either a smooth or anti-adhesive, rough surface. Furthermore, we measured the contact area of fore and hindlimbs against differently sized transparent cylinders and the forces of individual pads and subarticular tubercles in restrained animals. Our study revealed that frogs use friction and normal forces of roughly a similar magnitude for holding on to cylindrical objects. When challenged with climbing a non-adhesive surface, the compressive forces between opposite legs nearly doubled, indicating a stronger clamping grip. In contrast to climbing flat surfaces, frogs increased the contact area on all limbs by engaging not just adhesive pads but also subarticular tubercles on curved surfaces. Our force measurements showed that tubercles can withstand larger shear stresses than pads. SEM images of tubercles revealed a similar structure to that of toe pads including the presence of nanopillars, though channels surrounding epithelial cells were less pronounced. The tubercles' smaller size, proximal location on the toes and shallow cells make them probably less prone to buckling and thus ideal for gripping curved surfaces.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Planning spin-walking locomotion for automatic grasping of microobjects by an untethered magnetic microgripper
Planning spin-walking locomotion for automatic grasping of microobjects by an untethered magnetic microgripper

Dong, X., Sitti, M.

In 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 6612-6618, 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Most demonstrated mobile microrobot tasks so far have been achieved via pick-and-placing and dynamic trapping with teleoperation or simple path following algorithms. In our previous work, an untethered magnetic microgripper has been developed which has advanced functions, such as gripping objects. Both teleoperated manipulation in 2D and 3D have been demonstrated. However, it is challenging to control the magnetic microgripper to carry out manipulation tasks, because the grasping of objects so far in the literature relies heavily on teleoperation, which takes several minutes with even a skilled human expert. Here, we propose a new spin-walking locomotion and an automated 2D grasping motion planner for the microgripper, which enables time-efficient automatic grasping of microobjects that has not been achieved yet for untethered microrobots. In its locomotion, the microgripper repeatedly rotates about two principal axes to regulate its pose and move precisely on a surface. The motion planner could plan different motion primitives for grasping and compensate the uncertainties in the motion by learning the uncertainties and planning accordingly. We experimentally demonstrated that, using the proposed method, the microgripper could align to the target pose with error less than 0.1 body length and grip the objects within 40 seconds. Our method could significantly improve the time efficiency of micro-scale manipulation and have potential applications in microassembly and biomedical engineering.

pi

DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2014


Geckogripper: A soft, inflatable robotic gripper using gecko-inspired elastomer micro-fiber adhesives
Geckogripper: A soft, inflatable robotic gripper using gecko-inspired elastomer micro-fiber adhesives

Song, S., Majidi, C., Sitti, M.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2014), 2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 4624-4629, September 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper proposes GeckoGripper, a novel soft, inflatable gripper based on the controllable adhesion mechanism of gecko-inspired micro-fiber adhesives, to pick-and-place complex and fragile non-planar or planar parts serially or in parallel. Unlike previous fibrillar structures that use peel angle to control the manipulation of parts, we developed an elastomer micro-fiber adhesive that is fabricated on a soft, flexible membrane, increasing the adaptability to non-planar three-dimensional (3D) geometries and controllability in adhesion. The adhesive switching ratio (the ratio between the maximum and minimum adhesive forces) of the developed gripper was measured to be around 204, which is superior to previous works based on peel angle-based release control methods. Adhesion control mechanism based on the stretch of the membrane and superior adaptability to non-planar 3D geometries enable the micro-fibers to pick-and-place various 3D parts as shown in demonstrations.

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DOI [BibTex]

2014


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]


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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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PDF Supplementary material DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF Supplementary material DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Three-dimensional robotic manipulation and transport of micro-scale objects by a magnetically driven capillary micro-gripper

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

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2014 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2077-2082, 2014 (inproceedings)

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Project Page [BibTex]

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.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Robotic assembly of hydrogels for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine

Tasoglu, S, Diller, E, Guven, S, Sitti, M, Demirci, U

In Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, 8, pages: 181-182, 2014 (inproceedings)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [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)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Versatile non-contact micro-manipulation method using rotational flows locally induced by magnetic microrobots

Ye, Z., Edington, C., Russell, A. J., Sitti, M.

In Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM), 2014 IEEE/ASME International Conference on, pages: 26-31, 2014 (inproceedings)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [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.

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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.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Structural optimization method towards synthesis of small scale flexure-based mobile grippers

Lum, G. Z., Diller, E., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2014 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2339-2344, 2014 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Six-Degrees-of-Freedom Remote Actuation of Magnetic Microrobots.

Diller, E. D., Giltinan, J., Lum, G. Z., Ye, Z., Sitti, M.

In Robotics: Science and Systems, 2014 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[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.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2000


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Reciprocal excitation between biological and robotic research

Schaal, S., Sternad, D., Dean, W., Kotoska, S., Osu, R., Kawato, M.

In Sensor Fusion and Decentralized Control in Robotic Systems III, Proceedings of SPIE, 4196, pages: 30-40, Boston, MA, Nov.5-8, 2000, November 2000, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
While biological principles have inspired researchers in computational and engineering research for a long time, there is still rather limited knowledge flow back from computational to biological domains. This paper presents examples of our work where research on anthropomorphic robots lead us to new insights into explaining biological movement phenomena, starting from behavioral studies up to brain imaging studies. Our research over the past years has focused on principles of trajectory formation with nonlinear dynamical systems, on learning internal models for nonlinear control, and on advanced topics like imitation learning. The formal and empirical analyses of the kinematics and dynamics of movements systems and the tasks that they need to perform lead us to suggest principles of motor control that later on we found surprisingly related to human behavior and even brain activity.

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link (url) [BibTex]

2000


link (url) [BibTex]