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2013


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Strong Appearance and Expressive Spatial Models for Human Pose Estimation

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

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

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

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2013


pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Understanding High-Level Semantics by Modeling Traffic Patterns

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

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

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

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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A Non-parametric Bayesian Network Prior of Human Pose

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

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

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

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Project page pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

Project page pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Towards understanding action recognition

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

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

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

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

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


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Probabilistic Object Tracking Using a Range Camera

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

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

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

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arXiv Video Code Video DOI Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv Video Code Video DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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

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

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

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

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Statistics on Manifolds with Applications to Modeling Shape Deformations

Freifeld, O.

Brown University, August 2013 (phdthesis)

Abstract
Statistical models of non-rigid deformable shape have wide application in many fi elds, including computer vision, computer graphics, and biometry. We show that shape deformations are well represented through nonlinear manifolds that are also matrix Lie groups. These pattern-theoretic representations lead to several advantages over other alternatives, including a principled measure of shape dissimilarity and a natural way to compose deformations. Moreover, they enable building models using statistics on manifolds. Consequently, such models are superior to those based on Euclidean representations. We demonstrate this by modeling 2D and 3D human body shape. Shape deformations are only one example of manifold-valued data. More generally, in many computer-vision and machine-learning problems, nonlinear manifold representations arise naturally and provide a powerful alternative to Euclidean representations. Statistics is traditionally concerned with data in a Euclidean space, relying on the linear structure and the distances associated with such a space; this renders it inappropriate for nonlinear spaces. Statistics can, however, be generalized to nonlinear manifolds. Moreover, by respecting the underlying geometry, the statistical models result in not only more e ffective analysis but also consistent synthesis. We go beyond previous work on statistics on manifolds by showing how, even on these curved spaces, problems related to modeling a class from scarce data can be dealt with by leveraging information from related classes residing in di fferent regions of the space. We show the usefulness of our approach with 3D shape deformations. To summarize our main contributions: 1) We de fine a new 2D articulated model -- more expressive than traditional ones -- of deformable human shape that factors body-shape, pose, and camera variations. Its high realism is obtained from training data generated from a detailed 3D model. 2) We defi ne a new manifold-based representation of 3D shape deformations that yields statistical deformable-template models that are better than the current state-of-the- art. 3) We generalize a transfer learning idea from Euclidean spaces to Riemannian manifolds. This work demonstrates the value of modeling manifold-valued data and their statistics explicitly on the manifold. Specifi cally, the methods here provide new tools for shape analysis.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Poselet conditioned pictorial structures

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

In IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, pages: 588 - 595, IEEE, Portland, OR, Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVRP), June 2013 (inproceedings)

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Occlusion Patterns for Object Class Detection

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

In IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, Portland, OR, June 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Despite the success of recent object class recognition systems, the long-standing problem of partial occlusion re- mains a major challenge, and a principled solution is yet to be found. In this paper we leave the beaten path of meth- ods that treat occlusion as just another source of noise – instead, we include the occluder itself into the modelling, by mining distinctive, reoccurring occlusion patterns from annotated training data. These patterns are then used as training data for dedicated detectors of varying sophistica- tion. In particular, we evaluate and compare models that range from standard object class detectors to hierarchical, part-based representations of occluder/occludee pairs. In an extensive evaluation we derive insights that can aid fur- ther developments in tackling the occlusion challenge.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Lost! Leveraging the Crowd for Probabilistic Visual Self-Localization

(CVPR13 Best Paper Runner-Up)

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

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR 2013), pages: 3057-3064, IEEE, Portland, OR, June 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper we propose an affordable solution to self- localization, which utilizes visual odometry and road maps as the only inputs. To this end, we present a probabilis- tic model as well as an efficient approximate inference al- gorithm, which is able to utilize distributed computation to meet the real-time requirements of autonomous systems. Because of the probabilistic nature of the model we are able to cope with uncertainty due to noisy visual odometry and inherent ambiguities in the map ( e.g ., in a Manhattan world). By exploiting freely available, community devel- oped maps and visual odometry measurements, we are able to localize a vehicle up to 3m after only a few seconds of driving on maps which contain more than 2,150km of driv- able roads.

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pdf supplementary project page [BibTex]

pdf supplementary project page [BibTex]


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Human Pose Estimation using Body Parts Dependent Joint Regressors

Dantone, M., Gall, J., Leistner, C., van Gool, L.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 3041-3048, IEEE, Portland, OR, USA, June 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this work, we address the problem of estimating 2d human pose from still images. Recent methods that rely on discriminatively trained deformable parts organized in a tree model have shown to be very successful in solving this task. Within such a pictorial structure framework, we address the problem of obtaining good part templates by proposing novel, non-linear joint regressors. In particular, we employ two-layered random forests as joint regressors. The first layer acts as a discriminative, independent body part classifier. The second layer takes the estimated class distributions of the first one into account and is thereby able to predict joint locations by modeling the interdependence and co-occurrence of the parts. This results in a pose estimation framework that takes dependencies between body parts already for joint localization into account and is thus able to circumvent typical ambiguities of tree structures, such as for legs and arms. In the experiments, we demonstrate that our body parts dependent joint regressors achieve a higher joint localization accuracy than tree-based state-of-the-art methods.

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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A fully-connected layered model of foreground and background flow

Sun, D., Wulff, J., Sudderth, E., Pfister, H., Black, M.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, (CVPR 2013), pages: 2451-2458, Portland, OR, June 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Layered models allow scene segmentation and motion estimation to be formulated together and to inform one another. Traditional layered motion methods, however, employ fairly weak models of scene structure, relying on locally connected Ising/Potts models which have limited ability to capture long-range correlations in natural scenes. To address this, we formulate a fully-connected layered model that enables global reasoning about the complicated segmentations of real objects. Optimization with fully-connected graphical models is challenging, and our inference algorithm leverages recent work on efficient mean field updates for fully-connected conditional random fields. These methods can be implemented efficiently using high-dimensional Gaussian filtering. We combine these ideas with a layered flow model, and find that the long-range connections greatly improve segmentation into figure-ground layers when compared with locally connected MRF models. Experiments on several benchmark datasets show that the method can recover fine structures and large occlusion regions, with good flow accuracy and much lower computational cost than previous locally-connected layered models.

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pdf Supplemental Material Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Supplemental Material Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Hypothesis Testing Framework for Active Object Detection

Sankaran, B., Atanasov, N., Le Ny, J., Koletschka, T., Pappas, G., Daniilidis, K.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2013, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
One of the central problems in computer vision is the detection of semantically important objects and the estimation of their pose. Most of the work in object detection has been based on single image processing and its performance is limited by occlusions and ambiguity in appearance and geometry. This paper proposes an active approach to object detection by controlling the point of view of a mobile depth camera. When an initial static detection phase identifies an object of interest, several hypotheses are made about its class and orientation. The sensor then plans a sequence of view-points, which balances the amount of energy used to move with the chance of identifying the correct hypothesis. We formulate an active M-ary hypothesis testing problem, which includes sensor mobility, and solve it using a point-based approximate POMDP algorithm. The validity of our approach is verified through simulation and experiments with real scenes captured by a kinect sensor. The results suggest a significant improvement over static object detection.

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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Action and Goal Related Decision Variables Modulate the Competition Between Multiple Potential Targets

Enachescu, V, Christopoulos, Vassilios N, Schrater, P. R., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2013), February 2013 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Estimating Human Pose with Flowing Puppets

Zuffi, S., Romero, J., Schmid, C., Black, M. J.

In IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 3312-3319, 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We address the problem of upper-body human pose estimation in uncontrolled monocular video sequences, without manual initialization. Most current methods focus on isolated video frames and often fail to correctly localize arms and hands. Inferring pose over a video sequence is advantageous because poses of people in adjacent frames exhibit properties of smooth variation due to the nature of human and camera motion. To exploit this, previous methods have used prior knowledge about distinctive actions or generic temporal priors combined with static image likelihoods to track people in motion. Here we take a different approach based on a simple observation: Information about how a person moves from frame to frame is present in the optical flow field. We develop an approach for tracking articulated motions that "links" articulated shape models of people in adjacent frames trough the dense optical flow. Key to this approach is a 2D shape model of the body that we use to compute how the body moves over time. The resulting "flowing puppets" provide a way of integrating image evidence across frames to improve pose inference. We apply our method on a challenging dataset of TV video sequences and show state-of-the-art performance.

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pdf code data DOI Project Page Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf code data DOI Project Page Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Fusing visual and tactile sensing for 3-D object reconstruction while grasping

Ilonen, J., Bohg, J., Kyrki, V.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 3547-3554, 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this work, we propose to reconstruct a complete 3-D model of an unknown object by fusion of visual and tactile information while the object is grasped. Assuming the object is symmetric, a first hypothesis of its complete 3-D shape is generated from a single view. This initial model is used to plan a grasp on the object which is then executed with a robotic manipulator equipped with tactile sensors. Given the detected contacts between the fingers and the object, the full object model including the symmetry parameters can be refined. This refined model will then allow the planning of more complex manipulation tasks. The main contribution of this work is an optimal estimation approach for the fusion of visual and tactile data applying the constraint of object symmetry. The fusion is formulated as a state estimation problem and solved with an iterative extended Kalman filter. The approach is validated experimentally using both artificial and real data from two different robotic platforms.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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A Comparison of Directional Distances for Hand Pose Estimation

Tzionas, D., Gall, J.

In German Conference on Pattern Recognition (GCPR), 8142, pages: 131-141, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, (Editors: Weickert, Joachim and Hein, Matthias and Schiele, Bernt), Springer, 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Benchmarking methods for 3d hand tracking is still an open problem due to the difficulty of acquiring ground truth data. We introduce a new dataset and benchmarking protocol that is insensitive to the accumulative error of other protocols. To this end, we create testing frame pairs of increasing difficulty and measure the pose estimation error separately for each of them. This approach gives new insights and allows to accurately study the performance of each feature or method without employing a full tracking pipeline. Following this protocol, we evaluate various directional distances in the context of silhouette-based 3d hand tracking, expressed as special cases of a generalized Chamfer distance form. An appropriate parameter setup is proposed for each of them, and a comparative study reveals the best performing method in this context.

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

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


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Learning Objective Functions for Manipulation

Kalakrishnan, M., Pastor, P., Righetti, L., Schaal, S.

In 2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, IEEE, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present an approach to learning objective functions for robotic manipulation based on inverse reinforcement learning. Our path integral inverse reinforcement learning algorithm can deal with high-dimensional continuous state-action spaces, and only requires local optimality of demonstrated trajectories. We use L 1 regularization in order to achieve feature selection, and propose an efficient algorithm to minimize the resulting convex objective function. We demonstrate our approach by applying it to two core problems in robotic manipulation. First, we learn a cost function for redundancy resolution in inverse kinematics. Second, we use our method to learn a cost function over trajectories, which is then used in optimization-based motion planning for grasping and manipulation tasks. Experimental results show that our method outperforms previous algorithms in high-dimensional settings.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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A Generic Deformation Model for Dense Non-Rigid Surface Registration: a Higher-Order MRF-based Approach

Zeng, Y., Wang, C., Gu, X., Samaras, D., Paragios, N.

In IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 3360~3367, 2013 (inproceedings)

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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Learning Task Error Models for Manipulation

Pastor, P., Kalakrishnan, M., Binney, J., Kelly, J., Righetti, L., Sukhatme, G. S., Schaal, S.

In 2013 IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation, IEEE, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Precise kinematic forward models are important for robots to successfully perform dexterous grasping and manipulation tasks, especially when visual servoing is rendered infeasible due to occlusions. A lot of research has been conducted to estimate geometric and non-geometric parameters of kinematic chains to minimize reconstruction errors. However, kinematic chains can include non-linearities, e.g. due to cable stretch and motor-side encoders, that result in significantly different errors for different parts of the state space. Previous work either does not consider such non-linearities or proposes to estimate non-geometric parameters of carefully engineered models that are robot specific. We propose a data-driven approach that learns task error models that account for such unmodeled non-linearities. We argue that in the context of grasping and manipulation, it is sufficient to achieve high accuracy in the task relevant state space. We identify this relevant state space using previously executed joint configurations and learn error corrections for those. Therefore, our system is developed to generate subsequent executions that are similar to previous ones. The experiments show that our method successfully captures the non-linearities in the head kinematic chain (due to a counterbalancing spring) and the arm kinematic chains (due to cable stretch) of the considered experimental platform, see Fig. 1. The feasibility of the presented error learning approach has also been evaluated in independent DARPA ARM-S testing contributing to successfully complete 67 out of 72 grasping and manipulation tasks.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2009


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Path integral-based stochastic optimal control for rigid body dynamics

Theodorou, E. A., Buchli, J., Schaal, S.

In Adaptive Dynamic Programming and Reinforcement Learning, 2009. ADPRL ’09. IEEE Symposium on, pages: 219-225, 2009, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Recent advances on path integral stochastic optimal control [1],[2] provide new insights in the optimal control of nonlinear stochastic systems which are linear in the controls, with state independent and time invariant control transition matrix. Under these assumptions, the Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman (HJB) equation is formulated and linearized with the use of the logarithmic transformation of the optimal value function. The resulting HJB is a linear second order partial differential equation which is solved by an approximation based on the Feynman-Kac formula [3]. In this work we review the theory of path integral control and derive the linearized HJB equation for systems with state dependent control transition matrix. In addition we derive the path integral formulation for the general class of systems with state dimensionality that is higher than the dimensionality of the controls. Furthermore, by means of a modified inverse dynamics controller, we apply path integral stochastic optimal control over the new control space. Simulations illustrate the theoretical results. Future developments and extensions are discussed.

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link (url) [BibTex]

2009


link (url) [BibTex]


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Learning locomotion over rough terrain using terrain templates

Kalakrishnan, M., Buchli, J., Pastor, P., Schaal, S.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2009. IROS 2009. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 167-172, 2009, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
We address the problem of foothold selection in robotic legged locomotion over very rough terrain. The difficulty of the problem we address here is comparable to that of human rock-climbing, where foot/hand-hold selection is one of the most critical aspects. Previous work in this domain typically involves defining a reward function over footholds as a weighted linear combination of terrain features. However, a significant amount of effort needs to be spent in designing these features in order to model more complex decision functions, and hand-tuning their weights is not a trivial task. We propose the use of terrain templates, which are discretized height maps of the terrain under a foothold on different length scales, as an alternative to manually designed features. We describe an algorithm that can simultaneously learn a small set of templates and a foothold ranking function using these templates, from expert-demonstrated footholds. Using the LittleDog quadruped robot, we experimentally show that the use of terrain templates can produce complex ranking functions with higher performance than standard terrain features, and improved generalization to unseen terrain.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Compact models of motor primitive variations for predictible reaching and obstacle avoidance

Stulp, F., Oztop, E., Pastor, P., Beetz, M., Schaal, S.

In IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids 2009), Paris, Dec.7-10, 2009, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
over and over again. This regularity allows humans and robots to reuse existing solutions for known recurring tasks. We expect that reusing a set of standard solutions to solve similar tasks will facilitate the design and on-line adaptation of the control systems of robots operating in human environments. In this paper, we derive a set of standard solutions for reaching behavior from human motion data. We also derive stereotypical reaching trajectories for variations of the task, in which obstacles are present. These stereotypical trajectories are then compactly represented with Dynamic Movement Primitives. On the humanoid robot Sarcos CB, this approach leads to reproducible, predictable, and human-like reaching motions.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Human optimization strategies under reward feedback

Hoffmann, H., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2009), Waikoloa, Hawaii, 2009, 2009, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Many hypothesis on human movement generation have been cast into an optimization framework, implying that movements are adapted to optimize a single quantity, like, e.g., jerk, end-point variance, or control cost. However, we still do not understand how humans actually learn when given only a cost or reward feedback at the end of a movement. Such a reinforcement learning setting has been extensively explored theoretically in engineering and computer science, but in human movement control, hardly any experiment studied movement learning under reward feedback. We present experiments probing which computational strategies humans use to optimize a movement under a continuous reward function. We present two experimental paradigms. The first paradigm mimics a ball-hitting task. Subjects (n=12) sat in front of a computer screen and moved a stylus on a tablet towards an unknown target. This target was located on a line that the subjects had to cross. During the movement, visual feedback was suppressed. After the movement, a reward was displayed graphically as a colored bar. As reward, we used a Gaussian function of the distance between the target location and the point of line crossing. We chose such a function since in sensorimotor tasks, the cost or loss function that humans seem to represent is close to an inverted Gaussian function (Koerding and Wolpert 2004). The second paradigm mimics pocket billiards. On the same experimental setup as above, the computer screen displayed a pocket (two bars), a white disk, and a green disk. The goal was to hit with the white disk the green disk (as in a billiard collision), such that the green disk moved into the pocket. Subjects (n=8) manipulated with the stylus the white disk to effectively choose start point and movement direction. Reward feedback was implicitly given as hitting or missing the pocket with the green disk. In both paradigms, subjects increased the average reward over trials. The surprising result was that in these experiments, humans seem to prefer a strategy that uses a reward-weighted average over previous movements instead of gradient ascent. The literature on reinforcement learning is dominated by gradient-ascent methods. However, our computer simulations and theoretical analysis revealed that reward-weighted averaging is the more robust choice given the amount of movement variance observed in humans. Apparently, humans choose an optimization strategy that is suitable for their own movement variance.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Bayesian Methods for Autonomous Learning Systems (Phd Thesis)

Ting, J.

Department of Computer Science, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 2009, clmc (phdthesis)

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Learning and generalization of motor skills by learning from demonstration

Pastor, P., Hoffmann, H., Asfour, T., Schaal, S.

In International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA2009), Kobe, Japan, May 12-19, 2009, 2009, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
We provide a general approach for learning robotic motor skills from human demonstration. To represent an observed movement, a non-linear differential equation is learned such that it reproduces this movement. Based on this representation, we build a library of movements by labeling each recorded movement according to task and context (e.g., grasping, placing, and releasing). Our differential equation is formulated such that generalization can be achieved simply by adapting a start and a goal parameter in the equation to the desired position values of a movement. For object manipulation, we present how our framework extends to the control of gripper orientation and finger position. The feasibility of our approach is demonstrated in simulation as well as on a real robot. The robot learned a pick-and-place operation and a water-serving task and could generalize these tasks to novel situations.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Compliant quadruped locomotion over rough terrain

Buchli, J., Kalakrishnan, M., Mistry, M., Pastor, P., Schaal, S.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2009. IROS 2009. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 814-820, 2009, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Many critical elements for statically stable walking for legged robots have been known for a long time, including stability criteria based on support polygons, good foothold selection, recovery strategies to name a few. All these criteria have to be accounted for in the planning as well as the control phase. Most legged robots usually employ high gain position control, which means that it is crucially important that the planned reference trajectories are a good match for the actual terrain, and that tracking is accurate. Such an approach leads to conservative controllers, i.e. relatively low speed, ground speed matching, etc. Not surprisingly such controllers are not very robust - they are not suited for the real world use outside of the laboratory where the knowledge of the world is limited and error prone. Thus, to achieve robust robotic locomotion in the archetypical domain of legged systems, namely complex rough terrain, where the size of the obstacles are in the order of leg length, additional elements are required. A possible solution to improve the robustness of legged locomotion is to maximize the compliance of the controller. While compliance is trivially achieved by reduced feedback gains, for terrain requiring precise foot placement (e.g. climbing rocks, walking over pegs or cracks) compliance cannot be introduced at the cost of inferior tracking. Thus, model-based control and - in contrast to passive dynamic walkers - active balance control is required. To achieve these objectives, in this paper we add two crucial elements to legged locomotion, i.e., floating-base inverse dynamics control and predictive force control, and we show that these elements increase robustness in face of unknown and unanticipated perturbations (e.g. obstacles). Furthermore, we introduce a novel line-based COG trajectory planner, which yields a simpler algorithm than traditional polygon based methods and creates the appropriate input to our control system.We show results from bot- h simulation and real world of a robotic dog walking over non-perceived obstacles and rocky terrain. The results prove the effectivity of the inverse dynamics/force controller. The presented results show that we have all elements needed for robust all-terrain locomotion, which should also generalize to other legged systems, e.g., humanoid robots.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Inertial parameter estimation of floating-base humanoid systems using partial force sensing

Mistry, M., Schaal, S., Yamane, K.

In IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids 2009), Paris, Dec.7-10, 2009, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Recently, several controllers have been proposed for humanoid robots which rely on full-body dynamic models. The estimation of inertial parameters from data is a critical component for obtaining accurate models for control. However, floating base systems, such as humanoid robots, incur added challenges to this task (e.g. contact forces must be measured, contact states can change, etc.) In this work, we outline a theoretical framework for whole body inertial parameter estimation, including the unactuated floating base. Using a least squares minimization approach, conducted within the nullspace of unmeasured degrees of freedom, we are able to use a partial force sensor set for full-body estimation, e.g. using only joint torque sensors, allowing for estimation when contact force measurement is unavailable or unreliable (e.g. due to slipping, rolling contacts, etc.). We also propose how to determine the theoretical minimum force sensor set for full body estimation, and discuss the practical limitations of doing so.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]

1992


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What should be learned?

Schaal, S., Atkeson, C. G., Botros, S.

In Proceedings of Seventh Yale Workshop on Adaptive and Learning Systems, pages: 199-204, New Haven, CT, May 20-22, 1992, clmc (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

1992


[BibTex]