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2013


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

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

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

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

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2013


pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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

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

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

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

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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

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

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

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

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Project page pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

Project page pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Towards understanding action recognition
Towards understanding action recognition

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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arXiv Video Code Video DOI Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv Video Code Video DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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

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

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

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

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


Poselet conditioned pictorial structures
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]


Occlusion Patterns for Object Class Detection
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]


Lost! Leveraging the Crowd for Probabilistic Visual Self-Localization
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]


Human Pose Estimation using Body Parts Dependent Joint Regressors
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]


A fully-connected layered model of foreground and background flow
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]


Hypothesis Testing Framework for Active Object Detection
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]


Estimating Human Pose with Flowing Puppets
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]


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


A Comparison of Directional Distances for Hand Pose Estimation
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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Angular Motion Control Using a Closed-Loop CPG for a Water-Running Robot

Thatte, N., Khoramshahi, M., Ijspeert, A., Sitti, M.

In Dynamic Walking 2013, (EPFL-CONF-199763), 2013 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[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 hybrid topological and structural optimization method to design a 3-DOF planar motion compliant mechanism

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

In Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM), 2013 IEEE/ASME International Conference on, pages: 247-254, 2013 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Light-induced microbubble poration of localized cells

Fan, Qihui, Hu, Wenqi, Ohta, Aaron T

In Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), 2013 35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE, pages: 4482-4485, 2013 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


A Generic Deformation Model for Dense Non-Rigid Surface Registration: a Higher-Order MRF-based Approach
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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SoftCubes: towards a soft modular matter

Yim, S., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2013 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 530-536, 2013 (inproceedings)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Flapping wings via direct-driving by DC motors

Azhar, M., Campolo, D., Lau, G., Hines, L., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2013 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 1397-1402, 2013 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Three dimensional independent control of multiple magnetic microrobots

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

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2013 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2576-2581, 2013 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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A Perching Mechanism for Flying Robots Using a Fibre-Based Adhesive

Daler, L., Klaptocz, A., Briod, A., Sitti, M., Floreano, D.

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

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Bonding methods for modular micro-robotic assemblies

Diller, E., Zhang, N., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2013 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2588-2593, 2013 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[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]

2010


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Reinforcement learning of full-body humanoid motor skills

Stulp, F., Buchli, J., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In Humanoid Robots (Humanoids), 2010 10th IEEE-RAS International Conference on, pages: 405-410, December 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Applying reinforcement learning to humanoid robots is challenging because humanoids have a large number of degrees of freedom and state and action spaces are continuous. Thus, most reinforcement learning algorithms would become computationally infeasible and require a prohibitive amount of trials to explore such high-dimensional spaces. In this paper, we present a probabilistic reinforcement learning approach, which is derived from the framework of stochastic optimal control and path integrals. The algorithm, called Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2), has a surprisingly simple form, has no open tuning parameters besides the exploration noise, is model-free, and performs numerically robustly in high dimensional learning problems. We demonstrate how PI2 is able to learn full-body motor skills on a 34-DOF humanoid robot. To demonstrate the generality of our approach, we also apply PI2 in the context of variable impedance control, where both planned trajectories and gain schedules for each joint are optimized simultaneously.

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link (url) [BibTex]

2010


link (url) [BibTex]


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Relative Entropy Policy Search

Peters, J., Mülling, K., Altun, Y.

In Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, pages: 1607-1612, (Editors: Fox, M. , D. Poole), AAAI Press, Menlo Park, CA, USA, Twenty-Fourth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-10), July 2010 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Policy search is a successful approach to reinforcement learning. However, policy improvements often result in the loss of information. Hence, it has been marred by premature convergence and implausible solutions. As first suggested in the context of covariant policy gradients (Bagnell and Schneider 2003), many of these problems may be addressed by constraining the information loss. In this paper, we continue this path of reasoning and suggest the Relative Entropy Policy Search (REPS) method. The resulting method differs significantly from previous policy gradient approaches and yields an exact update step. It works well on typical reinforcement learning benchmark problems.

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PDF Web [BibTex]

PDF Web [BibTex]


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Reinforcement learning of motor skills in high dimensions: A path integral approach

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

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2397-2403, May 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Reinforcement learning (RL) is one of the most general approaches to learning control. Its applicability to complex motor systems, however, has been largely impossible so far due to the computational difficulties that reinforcement learning encounters in high dimensional continuous state-action spaces. In this paper, we derive a novel approach to RL for parameterized control policies based on the framework of stochastic optimal control with path integrals. While solidly grounded in optimal control theory and estimation theory, the update equations for learning are surprisingly simple and have no danger of numerical instabilities as neither matrix inversions nor gradient learning rates are required. Empirical evaluations demonstrate significant performance improvements over gradient-based policy learning and scalability to high-dimensional control problems. Finally, a learning experiment on a robot dog illustrates the functionality of our algorithm in a real-world scenario. We believe that our new algorithm, Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2), offers currently one of the most efficient, numerically robust, and easy to implement algorithms for RL in robotics.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Inverse dynamics control of floating base systems using orthogonal decomposition

Mistry, M., Buchli, J., Schaal, S.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 3406-3412, May 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Model-based control methods can be used to enable fast, dexterous, and compliant motion of robots without sacrificing control accuracy. However, implementing such techniques on floating base robots, e.g., humanoids and legged systems, is non-trivial due to under-actuation, dynamically changing constraints from the environment, and potentially closed loop kinematics. In this paper, we show how to compute the analytically correct inverse dynamics torques for model-based control of sufficiently constrained floating base rigid-body systems, such as humanoid robots with one or two feet in contact with the environment. While our previous inverse dynamics approach relied on an estimation of contact forces to compute an approximate inverse dynamics solution, here we present an analytically correct solution by using an orthogonal decomposition to project the robot dynamics onto a reduced dimensional space, independent of contact forces. We demonstrate the feasibility and robustness of our approach on a simulated floating base bipedal humanoid robot and an actual robot dog locomoting over rough terrain.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Fast, robust quadruped locomotion over challenging terrain

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

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2665-2670, May 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present a control architecture for fast quadruped locomotion over rough terrain. We approach the problem by decomposing it into many sub-systems, in which we apply state-of-the-art learning, planning, optimization and control techniques to achieve robust, fast locomotion. Unique features of our control strategy include: (1) a system that learns optimal foothold choices from expert demonstration using terrain templates, (2) a body trajectory optimizer based on the Zero-Moment Point (ZMP) stability criterion, and (3) a floating-base inverse dynamics controller that, in conjunction with force control, allows for robust, compliant locomotion over unperceived obstacles. We evaluate the performance of our controller by testing it on the LittleDog quadruped robot, over a wide variety of rough terrain of varying difficulty levels. We demonstrate the generalization ability of this controller by presenting test results from an independent external test team on terrains that have never been shown to us.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Adhesion recovery and passive peeling in a wall climbing robot using adhesives

Kute, C., Murphy, M. P., Mengüç, Y., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2797-2802, 2010 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Are reaching movements planned in kinematic or dynamic coordinates?

Ellmer, A., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2010), Naples, Florida, 2010, 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Whether human reaching movements are planned and optimized in kinematic (task space) or dynamic (joint or muscle space) coordinates is still an issue of debate. The first hypothesis implies that a planner produces a desired end-effector position at each point in time during the reaching movement, whereas the latter hypothesis includes the dynamics of the muscular-skeletal control system to produce a continuous end-effector trajectory. Previous work by Wolpert et al (1995) showed that when subjects were led to believe that their straight reaching paths corresponded to curved paths as shown on a computer screen, participants adapted the true path of their hand such that they would visually perceive a straight line in visual space, despite that they actually produced a curved path. These results were interpreted as supporting the stance that reaching trajectories are planned in kinematic coordinates. However, this experiment could only demonstrate that adaptation to altered paths, i.e. the position of the end-effector, did occur, but not that the precise timing of end-effector position was equally planned, i.e., the trajectory. Our current experiment aims at filling this gap by explicitly testing whether position over time, i.e. velocity, is a property of reaching movements that is planned in kinematic coordinates. In the current experiment, the velocity profiles of cursor movements corresponding to the participant's hand motions were skewed either to the left or to the right; the path itself was left unaltered. We developed an adaptation paradigm, where the skew of the velocity profile was introduced gradually and participants reported no awareness of any manipulation. Preliminary results indicate that the true hand motion of participants did not alter, i.e. there was no adaptation so as to counterbalance the introduced skew. However, for some participants, peak hand velocities were lowered for higher skews, which suggests that participants interpreted the manipulation as mere noise due to variance in their own movement. In summary, for a visuomotor transformation task, the hypothesis of a planned continuous end-effector trajectory predicts adaptation to a modified velocity profile. The current experiment found no systematic adaptation under such transformation, but did demonstrate an effect that is more in accordance that subjects could not perceive the manipulation and rather interpreted as an increase of noise.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Comparison of linear and nonlinear buck converter models with varying compensator gain values for design optimization

Sattler, Michael, Lui, Yusi, Edrington, Chris S

In North American Power Symposium (NAPS), 2010, pages: 1-7, 2010 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Optimality in Neuromuscular Systems

Theodorou, E. A., Valero-Cuevas, F.

In 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Abstract? We provide an overview of optimal control meth- ods to nonlinear neuromuscular systems and discuss their lim- itations. Moreover we extend current optimal control methods to their application to neuromuscular models with realistically numerous musculotendons; as most prior work is limited to torque-driven systems. Recent work on computational motor control has explored the used of control theory and esti- mation as a conceptual tool to understand the underlying computational principles of neuromuscular systems. After all, successful biological systems regularly meet conditions for stability, robustness and performance for multiple classes of complex tasks. Among a variety of proposed control theory frameworks to explain this, stochastic optimal control has become a dominant framework to the point of being a standard computational technique to reproduce kinematic trajectories of reaching movements (see [12]) In particular, we demonstrate the application of optimal control to a neuromuscular model of the index finger with all seven musculotendons producing a tapping task. Our simu- lations include 1) a muscle model that includes force- length and force-velocity characteristics; 2) an anatomically plausible biomechanical model of the index finger that includes a tendi- nous network for the extensor mechanism and 3) a contact model that is based on a nonlinear spring-damper attached at the end effector of the index finger. We demonstrate that it is feasible to apply optimal control to systems with realistically large state vectors and conclude that, while optimal control is an adequate formalism to create computational models of neuro- musculoskeletal systems, there remain important challenges and limitations that need to be considered and overcome such as contact transitions, curse of dimensionality, and constraints on states and controls.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Learning Policy Improvements with Path Integrals

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

In International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics (AISTATS 2010), 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
With the goal to generate more scalable algo- rithms with higher efficiency and fewer open parameters, reinforcement learning (RL) has recently moved towards combining classi- cal techniques from optimal control and dy- namic programming with modern learning techniques from statistical estimation the- ory. In this vein, this paper suggests the framework of stochastic optimal control with path integrals to derive a novel approach to RL with parametrized policies. While solidly grounded in value function estimation and optimal control based on the stochastic Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman (HJB) equations, policy improvements can be transformed into an approximation problem of a path inte- gral which has no open parameters other than the exploration noise. The resulting algorithm can be conceived of as model- based, semi-model-based, or even model free, depending on how the learning problem is structured. Our new algorithm demon- strates interesting similarities with previous RL research in the framework of proba- bility matching and provides intuition why the slightly heuristically motivated proba- bility matching approach can actually per- form well. Empirical evaluations demon- strate significant performance improvements over gradient-based policy learning and scal- ability to high-dimensional control problems. We believe that Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2) offers currently one of the most efficient, numerically robust, and easy to implement algorithms for RL based on trajectory roll-outs.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Learning optimal control solutions: a path integral approach

Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2010), Naples, Florida, 2010, 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Investigating principles of human motor control in the framework of optimal control has had a long tradition in neural control of movement, and has recently experienced a new surge of investigations. Ideally, optimal control problems are addresses as a reinforcement learning (RL) problem, which would allow to investigate both the process of acquiring an optimal control solution as well as the solution itself. Unfortunately, the applicability of RL to complex neural and biomechanics systems has been largely impossible so far due to the computational difficulties that arise in high dimensional continuous state-action spaces. As a way out, research has focussed on computing optimal control solutions based on iterative optimal control methods that are based on linear and quadratic approximations of dynamical models and cost functions. These methods require perfect knowledge of the dynamics and cost functions while they are based on gradient and Newton optimization schemes. Their applicability is also restricted to low dimensional problems due to problematic convergence in high dimensions. Moreover, the process of computing the optimal solution is removed from the learning process that might be plausible in biology. In this work, we present a new reinforcement learning method for learning optimal control solutions or motor control. This method, based on the framework of stochastic optimal control with path integrals, has a very solid theoretical foundation, while resulting in surprisingly simple learning algorithms. It is also possible to apply this approach without knowledge of the system model, and to use a wide variety of complex nonlinear cost functions for optimization. We illustrate the theoretical properties of this approach and its applicability to learning motor control tasks for reaching movements and locomotion studies. We discuss its applicability to learning desired trajectories, variable stiffness control (co-contraction), and parameterized control policies. We also investigate the applicability to signal dependent noise control systems. We believe that the suggested method offers one of the easiest to use approaches to learning optimal control suggested in the literature so far, which makes it ideally suited for computational investigations of biological motor control.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Enhancing the performance of Bio-inspired adhesives

Chung, H., Glass, P., Sitti, M., Washburn, N. R.

In ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, 240, 2010 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Control performance simulation in the design of a flapping wing micro-aerial vehicle

Hines, L. L., Arabagi, V., Sitti, M.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2010 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 1090-1095, 2010 (inproceedings)

pi

Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Constrained Accelerations for Controlled Geometric Reduction: Sagittal-Plane Decoupling for Bipedal Locomotion

Gregg, R., Righetti, L., Buchli, J., Schaal, S.

In 2010 10th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, pages: 1-7, IEEE, Nashville, USA, 2010 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Energy-shaping control methods have produced strong theoretical results for asymptotically stable 3D bipedal dynamic walking in the literature. In particular, geometric controlled reduction exploits robot symmetries to control momentum conservation laws that decouple the sagittal-plane dynamics, which are easier to stabilize. However, the associated control laws require high-dimensional matrix inverses multiplied with complicated energy-shaping terms, often making these control theories difficult to apply to highly-redundant humanoid robots. This paper presents a first step towards the application of energy-shaping methods on real robots by casting controlled reduction into a framework of constrained accelerations for inverse dynamics control. By representing momentum conservation laws as constraints in acceleration space, we construct a general expression for desired joint accelerations that render the constraint surface invariant. By appropriately choosing an orthogonal projection, we show that the unconstrained (reduced) dynamics are decoupled from the constrained dynamics. Any acceleration-based controller can then be used to stabilize this planar subsystem, including passivity-based methods. The resulting control law is surprisingly simple and represents a practical way to employ control theoretic stability results in robotic platforms. Simulated walking of a 3D compass-gait biped show correspondence between the new and original controllers, and simulated motions of a 16-DOF humanoid demonstrate the applicability of this method.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Variable impedance control - a reinforcement learning approach

Buchli, J., Theodorou, E., Stulp, F., Schaal, S.

In Robotics Science and Systems (2010), Zaragoza, Spain, June 27-30, 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
One of the hallmarks of the performance, versatility, and robustness of biological motor control is the ability to adapt the impedance of the overall biomechanical system to different task requirements and stochastic disturbances. A transfer of this principle to robotics is desirable, for instance to enable robots to work robustly and safely in everyday human environments. It is, however, not trivial to derive variable impedance controllers for practical high DOF robotic tasks. In this contribution, we accomplish such gain scheduling with a reinforcement learning approach algorithm, PI2 (Policy Improvement with Path Integrals). PI2 is a model-free, sampling based learning method derived from first principles of optimal control. The PI2 algorithm requires no tuning of algorithmic parameters besides the exploration noise. The designer can thus fully focus on cost function design to specify the task. From the viewpoint of robotics, a particular useful property of PI2 is that it can scale to problems of many DOFs, so that RL on real robotic systems becomes feasible. We sketch the PI2 algorithm and its theoretical properties, and how it is applied to gain scheduling. We evaluate our approach by presenting results on two different simulated robotic systems, a 3-DOF Phantom Premium Robot and a 6-DOF Kuka Lightweight Robot. We investigate tasks where the optimal strategy requires both tuning of the impedance of the end-effector, and tuning of a reference trajectory. The results show that we can use path integral based RL not only for planning but also to derive variable gain feedback controllers in realistic scenarios. Thus, the power of variable impedance control is made available to a wide variety of robotic systems and practical applications.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Surface tension driven water strider robot using circular footpads

Ozcan, O., Wang, H., Taylor, J. D., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 3799-3804, 2010 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Inverse dynamics with optimal distribution of ground reaction forces for legged robot

Righetti, L., Buchli, J., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Climbing and Walking Robots (CLAWAR), pages: 580-587, Nagoya, Japan, sep 2010 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Contact interaction with the environment is crucial in the design of locomotion controllers for legged robots, to prevent slipping for example. Therefore, it is of great importance to be able to control the effects of the robots movements on the contact reaction forces. In this contribution, we extend a recent inverse dynamics algorithm for floating base robots to optimize the distribution of contact forces while achieving precise trajectory tracking. The resulting controller is algorithmically simple as compared to other approaches. Numerical simulations show that this result significantly increases the range of possible movements of a humanoid robot as compared to the previous inverse dynamics algorithm. We also present a simplification of the result where no inversion of the inertia matrix is needed which is particularly relevant for practical use on a real robot. Such an algorithm becomes interesting for agile locomotion of robots on difficult terrains where the contacts with the environment are critical, such as walking over rough or slippery terrain.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]