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2011


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Multi-Modal Scene Understanding for Robotic Grasping

Bohg, J.

(2011:17):vi, 194, Trita-CSC-A, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, Computer Vision and Active Perception, CVAP, Centre for Autonomous Systems, CAS, KTH, Centre for Autonomous Systems, CAS, December 2011 (phdthesis)

Abstract
Current robotics research is largely driven by the vision of creating an intelligent being that can perform dangerous, difficult or unpopular tasks. These can for example be exploring the surface of planet mars or the bottom of the ocean, maintaining a furnace or assembling a car. They can also be more mundane such as cleaning an apartment or fetching groceries. This vision has been pursued since the 1960s when the first robots were built. Some of the tasks mentioned above, especially those in industrial manufacturing, are already frequently performed by robots. Others are still completely out of reach. Especially, household robots are far away from being deployable as general purpose devices. Although advancements have been made in this research area, robots are not yet able to perform household chores robustly in unstructured and open-ended environments given unexpected events and uncertainty in perception and execution.In this thesis, we are analyzing which perceptual and motor capabilities are necessary for the robot to perform common tasks in a household scenario. In that context, an essential capability is to understand the scene that the robot has to interact with. This involves separating objects from the background but also from each other.Once this is achieved, many other tasks become much easier. Configuration of object scan be determined; they can be identified or categorized; their pose can be estimated; free and occupied space in the environment can be outlined.This kind of scene model can then inform grasp planning algorithms to finally pick up objects.However, scene understanding is not a trivial problem and even state-of-the-art methods may fail. Given an incomplete, noisy and potentially erroneously segmented scene model, the questions remain how suitable grasps can be planned and how they can be executed robustly.In this thesis, we propose to equip the robot with a set of prediction mechanisms that allow it to hypothesize about parts of the scene it has not yet observed. Additionally, the robot can also quantify how uncertain it is about this prediction allowing it to plan actions for exploring the scene at specifically uncertain places. We consider multiple modalities including monocular and stereo vision, haptic sensing and information obtained through a human-robot dialog system. We also study several scene representations of different complexity and their applicability to a grasping scenario. Given an improved scene model from this multi-modal exploration, grasps can be inferred for each object hypothesis. Dependent on whether the objects are known, familiar or unknown, different methodologies for grasp inference apply. In this thesis, we propose novel methods for each of these cases. Furthermore,we demonstrate the execution of these grasp both in a closed and open-loop manner showing the effectiveness of the proposed methods in real-world scenarios.

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pdf [BibTex]

2011


pdf [BibTex]


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High-quality reflection separation using polarized images

Kong, N., Tai, Y., Shin, S. Y.

IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, 20(12):3393-3405, IEEE Signal Processing Society, December 2011 (article)

Abstract
In this paper, we deal with a problem of separating the effect of reflection from images captured behind glass. The input consists of multiple polarized images captured from the same view point but with different polarizer angles. The output is the high quality separation of the reflection layer and the background layer from the images. We formulate this problem as a constrained optimization problem and propose a framework that allows us to fully exploit the mutually exclusive image information in our input data. We test our approach on various images and demonstrate that our approach can generate good reflection separation results.

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Publisher site [BibTex]

Publisher site [BibTex]


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Outdoor Human Motion Capture using Inverse Kinematics and von Mises-Fisher Sampling

Pons-Moll, G., Baak, A., Gall, J., Leal-Taixe, L., Mueller, M., Seidel, H., Rosenhahn, B.

In IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 1243-1250, November 2011 (inproceedings)

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project page pdf supplemental [BibTex]

project page pdf supplemental [BibTex]


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Home 3D body scans from noisy image and range data

Weiss, A., Hirshberg, D., Black, M.

In Int. Conf. on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 1951-1958, IEEE, Barcelona, November 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The 3D shape of the human body is useful for applications in fitness, games and apparel. Accurate body scanners, however, are expensive, limiting the availability of 3D body models. We present a method for human shape reconstruction from noisy monocular image and range data using a single inexpensive commodity sensor. The approach combines low-resolution image silhouettes with coarse range data to estimate a parametric model of the body. Accurate 3D shape estimates are obtained by combining multiple monocular views of a person moving in front of the sensor. To cope with varying body pose, we use a SCAPE body model which factors 3D body shape and pose variations. This enables the estimation of a single consistent shape while allowing pose to vary. Additionally, we describe a novel method to minimize the distance between the projected 3D body contour and the image silhouette that uses analytic derivatives of the objective function. We propose a simple method to estimate standard body measurements from the recovered SCAPE model and show that the accuracy of our method is competitive with commercial body scanning systems costing orders of magnitude more.

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pdf YouTube poster Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf YouTube poster Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Means in spaces of tree-like shapes

Aasa Feragen, Soren Hauberg, Mads Nielsen, Francois Lauze

In Computer Vision (ICCV), 2011 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 736 -746, IEEE, november 2011 (inproceedings)

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Publishers site PDF Suppl. material [BibTex]

Publishers site PDF Suppl. material [BibTex]


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Everybody needs somebody: modeling social and grouping behavior on a linear programming multiple people tracker

Leal-Taixé, L., Rosenhahn, G. P. A. B.

In IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision Workshops (IICCVW), November 2011 (inproceedings)

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project page pdf [BibTex]

project page pdf [BibTex]


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Evaluating the Automated Alignment of 3D Human Body Scans

Hirshberg, D. A., Loper, M., Rachlin, E., Tsoli, A., Weiss, A., Corner, B., Black, M. J.

In 2nd International Conference on 3D Body Scanning Technologies, pages: 76-86, (Editors: D’Apuzzo, Nicola), Hometrica Consulting, Lugano, Switzerland, October 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The statistical analysis of large corpora of human body scans requires that these scans be in alignment, either for a small set of key landmarks or densely for all the vertices in the scan. Existing techniques tend to rely on hand-placed landmarks or algorithms that extract landmarks from scans. The former is time consuming and subjective while the latter is error prone. Here we show that a model-based approach can align meshes automatically, producing alignment accuracy similar to that of previous methods that rely on many landmarks. Specifically, we align a low-resolution, artist-created template body mesh to many high-resolution laser scans. Our alignment procedure employs a robust iterative closest point method with a regularization that promotes smooth and locally rigid deformation of the template mesh. We evaluate our approach on 50 female body models from the CAESAR dataset that vary significantly in body shape. To make the method fully automatic, we define simple feature detectors for the head and ankles, which provide initial landmark locations. We find that, if body poses are fairly similar, as in CAESAR, the fully automated method provides dense alignments that enable statistical analysis and anthropometric measurement.

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pdf slides DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf slides DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Branch&Rank: Non-Linear Object Detection

(Best Impact Paper Prize)

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

In Proceedings of the British Machine Vision Conference (BMVC), pages: 8.1-8.11, (Editors: Jesse Hoey and Stephen McKenna and Emanuele Trucco), BMVA Press, September 2011, http://dx.doi.org/10.5244/C.25.8 (inproceedings)

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video of talk pdf slides supplementary [BibTex]

video of talk pdf slides supplementary [BibTex]


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A human inspired gaze estimation system

Wulff, J., Sinha, P.

Journal of Vision, 11(11):507-507, ARVO, September 2011 (article)

Abstract
Estimating another person's gaze is a crucial skill in human social interactions. The social component is most apparent in dyadic gaze situations, in which the looker seems to look into the eyes of the observer, thereby signaling interest or a turn to speak. In a triadic situation, on the other hand, the looker's gaze is averted from the observer and directed towards another, specific target. This is mostly interpreted as a cue for joint attention, creating awareness of a predator or another point of interest. In keeping with the task's social significance, humans are very proficient at gaze estimation. Our accuracy ranges from less than one degree for dyadic settings to approximately 2.5 degrees for triadic ones. Our goal in this work is to draw inspiration from human gaze estimation mechanisms in order to create an artificial system that can approach the former's accuracy levels. Since human performance is severely impaired by both image-based degradations (Ando, 2004) and a change of facial configurations (Jenkins & Langton, 2003), the underlying principles are believed to be based both on simple image cues such as contrast/brightness distribution and on more complex geometric processing to reconstruct the actual shape of the head. By incorporating both kinds of cues in our system's design, we are able to surpass the accuracy of existing eye-tracking systems, which rely exclusively on either image-based or geometry-based cues (Yamazoe et al., 2008). A side-benefit of this combined approach is that it allows for gaze estimation despite moderate view-point changes. This is important for settings where subjects, say young children or certain kinds of patients, might not be fully cooperative to allow a careful calibration. Our model and implementation of gaze estimation opens up new experimental questions about human mechanisms while also providing a useful tool for general calibration-free, non-intrusive remote eye-tracking.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Detecting synchrony in degraded audio-visual streams

Dhandhania, K., Wulff, J., Sinha, P.

Journal of Vision, 11(11):800-800, ARVO, September 2011 (article)

Abstract
Even 8–10 week old infants, when presented with two dynamic faces and a speech stream, look significantly longer at the ‘correct’ talking person (Patterson & Werker, 2003). This is true even though their reduced visual acuity prevents them from utilizing high spatial frequencies. Computational analyses in the field of audio/video synchrony and automatic speaker detection (e.g. Hershey & Movellan, 2000), in contrast, usually depend on high-resolution images. Therefore, the correlation mechanisms found in these computational studies are not directly applicable to the processes through which we learn to integrate the modalities of speech and vision. In this work, we investigated the correlation between speech signals and degraded video signals. We found a high correlation persisting even with high image degradation, resembling the low visual acuity of young infants. Additionally (in a fashion similar to Graf et al., 2002) we explored which parts of the face correlate with the audio in the degraded video sequences. Perfect synchrony and small offsets in the audio were used while finding the correlation, thereby detecting visual events preceding and following audio events. In order to achieve a sufficiently high temporal resolution, high-speed video sequences (500 frames per second) of talking people were used. This is a temporal resolution unachieved in previous studies and has allowed us to capture very subtle and short visual events. We believe that the results of this study might be interesting not only to vision researchers, but, by revealing subtle effects on a very fine timescale, also to people working in computer graphics and the generation and animation of artificial faces.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Efficient and Robust Shape Matching for Model Based Human Motion Capture

Pons-Moll, G., Leal-Taixé, L., Truong, T., Rosenhahn, B.

In German Conference on Pattern Recognition (GCPR), pages: 416-425, September 2011 (inproceedings)

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project page pdf [BibTex]

project page pdf [BibTex]


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BrainGate pilot clinical trials: Progress in translating neural engineering principles to clinical testing

Hochberg, L., Simeral, J., Black, M., Bacher, D., Barefoot, L., Berhanu, E., Borton, D., Cash, S., Feldman, J., Gallivan, E., Homer, M., Jarosiewicz, B., King, B., Liu, J., Malik, W., Masse, N., Perge, J., Rosler, D., Schmansky, N., Travers, B., Truccolo, W., Nurmikko, A., Donoghue, J.

33rd Annual International IEEE EMBS Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Boston, MA, August 2011 (conference)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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ISocRob-MSL 2011 Team Description Paper for Middle Sized League

Messias, J., Ahmad, A., Reis, J., Sousa, J., Lima, P.

15th Annual RoboCup International Symposium 2011, July 2011 (techreport)

Abstract
This paper describes the status of the ISocRob MSL robotic soccer team as required by the RoboCup 2011 qualification procedures. The most relevant technical and scientifical developments carried out by the team, since its last participation in the RoboCup MSL competitions, are here detailed. These include cooperative localization, cooperative object tracking, planning under uncertainty, obstacle detection and improvements to self-localization.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Trajectory Space: A Dual Representation for Nonrigid Structure from Motion

Akhter, I., Sheikh, Y., Khan, S., Kanade, T.

Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, IEEE Transactions on, 33(7):1442-1456, IEEE, July 2011 (article)

Abstract
Existing approaches to nonrigid structure from motion assume that the instantaneous 3D shape of a deforming object is a linear combination of basis shapes. These basis are object dependent and therefore have to be estimated anew for each video sequence. In contrast, we propose a dual approach to describe the evolving 3D structure in trajectory space by a linear combination of basis trajectories. We describe the dual relationship between the two approaches, showing that they both have equal power for representing 3D structure. We further show that the temporal smoothness in 3D trajectories alone can be used for recovering nonrigid structure from a moving camera. The principal advantage of expressing deforming 3D structure in trajectory space is that we can define an object independent basis. This results in a significant reduction in unknowns, and corresponding stability in estimation. We propose the use of the Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT) as the object independent basis and empirically demonstrate that it approaches Principal Component Analysis (PCA) for natural motions. We report the performance of the proposed method, quantitatively using motion capture data, and qualitatively on several video sequences exhibiting nonrigid motions including piecewise rigid motion, partially nonrigid motion (such as a facial expressions), and highly nonrigid motion (such as a person walking or dancing).

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pdf project page [BibTex]

pdf project page [BibTex]


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Learning Output Kernels with Block Coordinate Descent

Dinuzzo, F., Ong, C. S., Gehler, P., Pillonetto, G.

In Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML-11), pages: 49-56, ICML ’11, (Editors: Getoor, Lise and Scheffer, Tobias), ACM, New York, NY, USA, ICML, June 2011 (inproceedings)

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data+code pdf [BibTex]

data+code pdf [BibTex]


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Mind the gap - robotic grasping under incomplete observation

Bohg, J., Johnson-Roberson, M., Leon, B., Felip, J., Gratal, X., Bergstrom, N., Kragic, D., Morales, A.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2011 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 686-693, May 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We consider the problem of grasp and manipulation planning when the state of the world is only partially observable. Specifically, we address the task of picking up unknown objects from a table top. The proposed approach to object shape prediction aims at closing the knowledge gaps in the robot's understanding of the world. A completed state estimate of the environment can then be provided to a simulator in which stable grasps and collision-free movements are planned. The proposed approach is based on the observation that many objects commonly in use in a service robotic scenario possess symmetries. We search for the optimal parameters of these symmetries given visibility constraints. Once found, the point cloud is completed and a surface mesh reconstructed. Quantitative experiments show that the predictions are valid approximations of the real object shape. By demonstrating the approach on two very different robotic platforms its generality is emphasized.

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pdf video code data DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf video code data DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Loose-limbed People: Estimating 3D Human Pose and Motion Using Non-parametric Belief Propagation

Sigal, L., Isard, M., Haussecker, H., Black, M. J.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 98(1):15-48, Springer Netherlands, May 2011 (article)

Abstract
We formulate the problem of 3D human pose estimation and tracking as one of inference in a graphical model. Unlike traditional kinematic tree representations, our model of the body is a collection of loosely-connected body-parts. In particular, we model the body using an undirected graphical model in which nodes correspond to parts and edges to kinematic, penetration, and temporal constraints imposed by the joints and the world. These constraints are encoded using pair-wise statistical distributions, that are learned from motion-capture training data. Human pose and motion estimation is formulated as inference in this graphical model and is solved using Particle Message Passing (PaMPas). PaMPas is a form of non-parametric belief propagation that uses a variation of particle filtering that can be applied over a general graphical model with loops. The loose-limbed model and decentralized graph structure allow us to incorporate information from "bottom-up" visual cues, such as limb and head detectors, into the inference process. These detectors enable automatic initialization and aid recovery from transient tracking failures. We illustrate the method by automatically tracking people in multi-view imagery using a set of calibrated cameras and present quantitative evaluation using the HumanEva dataset.

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pdf publisher's site link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf publisher's site link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Point-and-Click Cursor Control With an Intracortical Neural Interface System by Humans With Tetraplegia

Kim, S., Simeral, J. D., Hochberg, L. R., Donoghue, J. P., Friehs, G. M., Black, M. J.

IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, 19(2):193-203, April 2011 (article)

Abstract
We present a point-and-click intracortical neural interface system (NIS) that enables humans with tetraplegia to volitionally move a 2D computer cursor in any desired direction on a computer screen, hold it still and click on the area of interest. This direct brain-computer interface extracts both discrete (click) and continuous (cursor velocity) signals from a single small population of neurons in human motor cortex. A key component of this system is a multi-state probabilistic decoding algorithm that simultaneously decodes neural spiking activity and outputs either a click signal or the velocity of the cursor. The algorithm combines a linear classifier, which determines whether the user is intending to click or move the cursor, with a Kalman filter that translates the neural population activity into cursor velocity. We present a paradigm for training the multi-state decoding algorithm using neural activity observed during imagined actions. Two human participants with tetraplegia (paralysis of the four limbs) performed a closed-loop radial target acquisition task using the point-and-click NIS over multiple sessions. We quantified point-and-click performance using various human-computer interaction measurements for pointing devices. We found that participants were able to control the cursor motion accurately and click on specified targets with a small error rate (< 3% in one participant). This study suggests that signals from a small ensemble of motor cortical neurons (~40) can be used for natural point-and-click 2D cursor control of a personal computer.

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pdf publishers's site pub med link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

pdf publishers's site pub med link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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A Database and Evaluation Methodology for Optical Flow

Baker, S., Scharstein, D., Lewis, J. P., Roth, S., Black, M. J., Szeliski, R.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 92(1):1-31, March 2011 (article)

Abstract
The quantitative evaluation of optical flow algorithms by Barron et al. (1994) led to significant advances in performance. The challenges for optical flow algorithms today go beyond the datasets and evaluation methods proposed in that paper. Instead, they center on problems associated with complex natural scenes, including nonrigid motion, real sensor noise, and motion discontinuities. We propose a new set of benchmarks and evaluation methods for the next generation of optical flow algorithms. To that end, we contribute four types of data to test different aspects of optical flow algorithms: (1) sequences with nonrigid motion where the ground-truth flow is determined by tracking hidden fluorescent texture, (2) realistic synthetic sequences, (3) high frame-rate video used to study interpolation error, and (4) modified stereo sequences of static scenes. In addition to the average angular error used by Barron et al., we compute the absolute flow endpoint error, measures for frame interpolation error, improved statistics, and results at motion discontinuities and in textureless regions. In October 2007, we published the performance of several well-known methods on a preliminary version of our data to establish the current state of the art. We also made the data freely available on the web at http://vision.middlebury.edu/flow/ . Subsequently a number of researchers have uploaded their results to our website and published papers using the data. A significant improvement in performance has already been achieved. In this paper we analyze the results obtained to date and draw a large number of conclusions from them.

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pdf pdf from publisher Middlebury Flow Evaluation Website [BibTex]

pdf pdf from publisher Middlebury Flow Evaluation Website [BibTex]


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Role of expertise and contralateral symmetry in the diagnosis of pneumoconiosis: an experimental study

Jampani, V., Vaidya, V., Sivaswamy, J., Tourani, K. L.

In Proc. SPIE 7966, Medical Imaging: Image Perception, Observer Performance, and Technology Assessment, 2011, Florida, March 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Pneumoconiosis, a lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust, is mainly diagnosed using chest radiographs. The effects of using contralateral symmetric (CS) information present in chest radiographs in the diagnosis of pneumoconiosis are studied using an eye tracking experimental study. The role of expertise and the influence of CS information on the performance of readers with different expertise level are also of interest. Experimental subjects ranging from novices & medical students to staff radiologists were presented with 17 double and 16 single lung images, and were asked to give profusion ratings for each lung zone. Eye movements and the time for their diagnosis were also recorded. Kruskal-Wallis test (χ2(6) = 13.38, p = .038), showed that the observer error (average sum of absolute differences) in double lung images differed significantly across the different expertise categories when considering all the participants. Wilcoxon-signed rank test indicated that the observer error was significantly higher for single-lung images (Z = 3.13, p < .001) than for the double-lung images for all the participants. Mann-Whitney test (U = 28, p = .038) showed that the differential error between single and double lung images is significantly higher in doctors [staff & residents] than in non-doctors [others]. Thus, Expertise & CS information plays a significant role in the diagnosis of pneumoconiosis. CS information helps in diagnosing pneumoconiosis by reducing the general tendency of giving less profusion ratings. Training and experience appear to play important roles in learning to use the CS information present in the chest radiographs.

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url link (url) [BibTex]

url link (url) [BibTex]


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Learning, planning, and control for quadruped locomotion over challenging terrain

Kalakrishnan, Mrinal, Buchli, Jonas, Pastor, Peter, Mistry, Michael, Schaal, S.

International Journal of Robotics Research, 30(2):236-258, February 2011 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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STOMP: Stochastic trajectory optimization for motion planning

Kalakrishnan, M., Chitta, S., Theodorou, E., Pastor, P., Schaal, S.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Shanghai, China, May 9-13, 2011, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present a new approach to motion planning using a stochastic trajectory optimization framework. The approach relies on generating noisy trajectories to explore the space around an initial (possibly infeasible) trajectory, which are then combined to produced an updated trajectory with lower cost. A cost function based on a combination of obstacle and smoothness cost is optimized in each iteration. No gradient information is required for the particular optimization algorithm that we use and so general costs for which derivatives may not be available (e.g. costs corresponding to constraints and motor torques) can be included in the cost function. We demonstrate the approach both in simulation and on a dual-arm mobile manipulation system for unconstrained and constrained tasks. We experimentally show that the stochastic nature of STOMP allows it to overcome local minima that gradient-based optimizers like CHOMP can get stuck in.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Recovering Intrinsic Images with a Global Sparsity Prior on Reflectance

Gehler, P., Rother, C., Kiefel, M., Zhang, L., Schölkopf, B.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24, pages: 765-773, (Editors: Shawe-Taylor, John and Zemel, Richard S. and Bartlett, Peter L. and Pereira, Fernando C. N. and Weinberger, Kilian Q.), Curran Associates, Inc., Red Hook, NY, USA, Twenty-Fifth Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We address the challenging task of decoupling material properties from lighting properties given a single image. In the last two decades virtually all works have concentrated on exploiting edge information to address this problem. We take a different route by introducing a new prior on reflectance, that models reflectance values as being drawn from a sparse set of basis colors. This results in a Random Field model with global, latent variables (basis colors) and pixel-accurate output reflectance values. We show that without edge information high-quality results can be achieved, that are on par with methods exploiting this source of information. Finally, we are able to improve on state-of-the-art results by integrating edge information into our model. We believe that our new approach is an excellent starting point for future developments in this field.

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website + code pdf poster Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

website + code pdf poster Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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An Experimental Demonstration of a Distributed and Event-based State Estimation Algorithm

(Best Interactive Paper Award (top out of 450))

Trimpe, S., D’Andrea, R.

In Proceedings of the 18th IFAC World Congress, 2011 (inproceedings)

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PDF DOI [BibTex]

PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Path Integral Control and Bounded Rationality

Braun, D. A., Ortega, P. A., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In IEEE Symposium on Adaptive Dynamic Programming And Reinforcement Learning (ADPRL), 2011, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Path integral methods [7], [15],[1] have recently been shown to be applicable to a very general class of optimal control problems. Here we examine the path integral formalism from a decision-theoretic point of view, since an optimal controller can always be regarded as an instance of a perfectly rational decision-maker that chooses its actions so as to maximize its expected utility [8]. The problem with perfect rationality is, however, that finding optimal actions is often very difficult due to prohibitive computational resource costs that are not taken into account. In contrast, a bounded rational decision-maker has only limited resources and therefore needs to strike some compromise between the desired utility and the required resource costs [14]. In particular, we suggest an information-theoretic measure of resource costs that can be derived axiomatically [11]. As a consequence we obtain a variational principle for choice probabilities that trades off maximizing a given utility criterion and avoiding resource costs that arise due to deviating from initially given default choice probabilities. The resulting bounded rational policies are in general probabilistic. We show that the solutions found by the path integral formalism are such bounded rational policies. Furthermore, we show that the same formalism generalizes to discrete control problems, leading to linearly solvable bounded rational control policies in the case of Markov systems. Importantly, Bellman?s optimality principle is not presupposed by this variational principle, but it can be derived as a limit case. This suggests that the information- theoretic formalization of bounded rationality might serve as a general principle in control design that unifies a number of recently reported approximate optimal control methods both in the continuous and discrete domain.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Skill learning and task outcome prediction for manipulation

Pastor, P., Kalakrishnan, M., Chitta, S., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Shanghai, China, May 9-13, 2011, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Learning complex motor skills for real world tasks is a hard problem in robotic manipulation that often requires painstaking manual tuning and design by a human expert. In this work, we present a Reinforcement Learning based approach to acquiring new motor skills from demonstration. Our approach allows the robot to learn fine manipulation skills and significantly improve its success rate and skill level starting from a possibly coarse demonstration. Our approach aims to incorporate task domain knowledge, where appropriate, by working in a space consistent with the constraints of a specific task. In addition, we also present an approach to using sensor feedback to learn a predictive model of the task outcome. This allows our system to learn the proprioceptive sensor feedback needed to monitor subsequent executions of the task online and abort execution in the event of predicted failure. We illustrate our approach using two example tasks executed with the PR2 dual-arm robot: a straight and accurate pool stroke and a box flipping task using two chopsticks as tools.

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link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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An Iterative Path Integral Stochastic Optimal Control Approach for Learning Robotic Tasks

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

In Proceedings of the 18th World Congress of the International Federation of Automatic Control, 2011, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Recent work on path integral stochastic optimal control theory Theodorou et al. (2010a); Theodorou (2011) has shown promising results in planning and control of nonlinear systems in high dimensional state spaces. The path integral control framework relies on the transformation of the nonlinear Hamilton Jacobi Bellman (HJB) partial differential equation (PDE) into a linear PDE and the approximation of its solution via the use of the Feynman Kac lemma. In this work, we are reviewing the generalized version of path integral stochastic optimal control formalism Theodorou et al. (2010a), used for optimal control and planing of stochastic dynamical systems with state dependent control and diffusion matrices. Moreover we present the iterative path integral control approach, the so called Policy Improvement with Path Integrals or (PI2 ) which is capable of scaling in high dimensional robotic control problems. Furthermore we present a convergence analysis of the proposed algorithm and we apply the proposed framework to a variety of robotic tasks. Finally with the goal to perform locomotion the iterative path integral control is applied for learning nonlinear limit cycle attractors with adjustable land scape.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Enhanced visual scene understanding through human-robot dialog

Johnson-Roberson, M., Bohg, J., Skantze, G., Gustafson, J., Carlson, R., Rasolzadeh, B., Kragic, D.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2011 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 3342-3348, 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We propose a novel human-robot-interaction framework for robust visual scene understanding. Without any a-priori knowledge about the objects, the task of the robot is to correctly enumerate how many of them are in the scene and segment them from the background. Our approach builds on top of state-of-the-art computer vision methods, generating object hypotheses through segmentation. This process is combined with a natural dialog system, thus including a `human in the loop' where, by exploiting the natural conversation of an advanced dialog system, the robot gains knowledge about ambiguous situations. We present an entropy-based system allowing the robot to detect the poorest object hypotheses and query the user for arbitration. Based on the information obtained from the human-robot dialog, the scene segmentation can be re-seeded and thereby improved. We present experimental results on real data that show an improved segmentation performance compared to segmentation without interaction.

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pdf video DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf video DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Risk and gain battery management for self-docking mobile robots

Berenz, V., Suzuki, K.

In Robotics and Biomimetics (ROBIO), 2011 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 1766-1771, 2011 (inproceedings)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Reduced Communication State Estimation for Control of an Unstable Networked Control System

Trimpe, S., D’Andrea, R.

In Proceedings of the 50th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control and European Control Conference, 2011 (inproceedings)

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PDF Supplementary material DOI [BibTex]

PDF Supplementary material DOI [BibTex]


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Neuromuscular Stochastic Optimal Control of a Tendon Driven Index Finger

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

In Proceedings of American Control Conference (ACC), 2011, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
With the goal to build robotic hands which can reach the levels of dexterity and robustness of the hand, the question of what are the candidate control principles that can handle the nonlinearities, the high dimensionality and the internal noise of biomechanical structures of the complexity of the hand, is still open. In this work we present the first stochastic optimal feedback controller applied to a full tendon driven simulated robotic index finger. In our model we do take into account the full tendon structure of the index finger which consist of 11 tendons based on the underlying physiology and we consider muscle with the typical force - length and force velocity properties. Our feedback controller show robustness against noise and perturbation of the dynamics while it can also successfully handle the nonlinearities and high dimensionality of the robotic index finger. Furthermore as it is shown in the evaluations, it provides the complete time history of the tendon excursions and the tendon velocities of the index finger for the tasks of tapping with zero and nonzero terminal velocities.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Bayesian robot system identification with input and output noise

Ting, J., D’Souza, A., Schaal, S.

Neural Networks, 24(1):99-108, 2011, clmc (article)

Abstract
For complex robots such as humanoids, model-based control is highly beneficial for accurate tracking while keeping negative feedback gains low for compliance. However, in such multi degree-of-freedom lightweight systems, conventional identification of rigid body dynamics models using CAD data and actuator models is inaccurate due to unknown nonlinear robot dynamic effects. An alternative method is data-driven parameter estimation, but significant noise in measured and inferred variables affects it adversely. Moreover, standard estimation procedures may give physically inconsistent results due to unmodeled nonlinearities or insufficiently rich data. This paper addresses these problems, proposing a Bayesian system identification technique for linear or piecewise linear systems. Inspired by Factor Analysis regression, we develop a computationally efficient variational Bayesian regression algorithm that is robust to ill-conditioned data, automatically detects relevant features, and identifies input and output noise. We evaluate our approach on rigid body parameter estimation for various robotic systems, achieving an error of up to three times lower than other state-of-the-art machine learning methods

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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TDM: A software framework for elegant and rapid development of autonomous behaviors for humanoid robots.

Berenz, V., Tanaka, F., Suzuki, K., Herink, M.

In Humanoids, pages: 179-186, IEEE, 2011 (inproceedings)

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Coaching robot behavior using continuous physiological affective feedback

Gruebler, A., Berenz, V., Suzuki, K.

In 11th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids 2011), Bled, Slovenia, October 26-28, 2011, pages: 466-471, 2011 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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OpenBioSafetyLab: A virtual world based biosafety training application for medical students

Nakasone, A., Tang, S., Shigematsu, M., Heinecke, B., Fujimoto, S., Prendinger, H.

In International Conference on Information Technology: New Generations (ITNG), IEEE CPS, 2011 (inproceedings)

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Combining wireless neural recording and video capture for the analysis of natural gait

Foster, J., Freifeld, O., Nuyujukian, P., Ryu, S., Black, M. J., Shenoy, K.

In Proc. 5th Int. IEEE EMBS Conf. on Neural Engineering, pages: 613-616, IEEE, 2011 (inproceedings)

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Learning variable impedance control

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

International Journal of Robotics Research, 2011, clmc (article)

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 degree-of-freedom (DOF) robotic tasks. In this contribution, we accomplish such variable impedance control with the reinforcement learning (RL) algorithm PISq ({f P}olicy {f I}mprovement with {f P}ath {f I}ntegrals). PISq is a model-free, sampling based learning method derived from first principles of stochastic optimal control. The PISq 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 PISq is that it can scale to problems of many DOFs, so that reinforcement learning on real robotic systems becomes feasible. We sketch the PISq algorithm and its theoretical properties, and how it is applied to gain scheduling for variable impedance control. We evaluate our approach by presenting results on several simulated and real robots. We consider tasks involving accurate tracking through via-points, and manipulation tasks requiring physical contact with the environment. In these tasks, the optimal strategy requires both tuning of a reference trajectory emph{and} the impedance of the end-effector. The results show that we can use path integral based reinforcement learning 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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Iterative path integral stochastic optimal control: Theory and applications to motor control

Theodorou, E. A.

University of Southern California, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 2011 (phdthesis)

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Learning of grasp selection based on shape-templates

Herzog, A.

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 2011 (mastersthesis)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Tagged Cardiac MR Image Segmentation Using Boundary & Regional-Support and Graph-based Deformable Priors

Xiang, B., Wang, C., Deux, J., Rahmouni, A., Paragios, N.

In IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI), 2011 (inproceedings)

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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Multiview Structure from Motion in Trajectory Space

Zaheer, A., Akhter, I., Mohammad, H. B., Marzban, S., Khan, S.

In Computer Vision (ICCV), 2011 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2447-2453, 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Most nonrigid objects exhibit temporal regularities in their deformations. Recently it was proposed that these regularities can be parameterized by assuming that the non- rigid structure lies in a small dimensional trajectory space. In this paper, we propose a factorization approach for 3D reconstruction from multiple static cameras under the com- pact trajectory subspace representation. Proposed factor- ization is analogous to rank-3 factorization of rigid struc- ture from motion problem, in transformed space. The benefit of our approach is that the 3D trajectory basis can be directly learned from the image observations. This also allows us to impute missing observations and denoise tracking errors without explicit estimation of the 3D structure. In contrast to standard triangulation based methods which require points to be visible in at least two cameras, our ap- proach can reconstruct points, which remain occluded even in all the cameras for quite a long time. This makes our solution especially suitable for occlusion handling in motion capture systems. We demonstrate robustness of our method on challenging real and synthetic scenarios.

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pdf project page [BibTex]

pdf project page [BibTex]


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Neural control of cursor trajectory and click by a human with tetraplegia 1000 days after implant of an intracortical microelectrode array

(J. Neural Engineering Highlights of 2011 Collection. JNE top 10 cited papers of 2010-2011.)

Simeral, J. D., Kim, S., Black, M. J., Donoghue, J. P., Hochberg, L. R.

J. of Neural Engineering, 8(2):025027, 2011 (article)

Abstract
The ongoing pilot clinical trial of the BrainGate neural interface system aims in part to assess the feasibility of using neural activity obtained from a small-scale, chronically implanted, intracortical microelectrode array to provide control signals for a neural prosthesis system. Critical questions include how long implanted microelectrodes will record useful neural signals, how reliably those signals can be acquired and decoded, and how effectively they can be used to control various assistive technologies such as computers and robotic assistive devices, or to enable functional electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles. Here we examined these questions by assessing neural cursor control and BrainGate system characteristics on five consecutive days 1000 days after implant of a 4 × 4 mm array of 100 microelectrodes in the motor cortex of a human with longstanding tetraplegia subsequent to a brainstem stroke. On each of five prospectively-selected days we performed time-amplitude sorting of neuronal spiking activity, trained a population-based Kalman velocity decoding filter combined with a linear discriminant click state classifier, and then assessed closed-loop point-and-click cursor control. The participant performed both an eight-target center-out task and a random target Fitts metric task which was adapted from a human-computer interaction ISO standard used to quantify performance of computer input devices. The neural interface system was further characterized by daily measurement of electrode impedances, unit waveforms and local field potentials. Across the five days, spiking signals were obtained from 41 of 96 electrodes and were successfully decoded to provide neural cursor point-and-click control with a mean task performance of 91.3% ± 0.1% (mean ± s.d.) correct target acquisition. Results across five consecutive days demonstrate that a neural interface system based on an intracortical microelectrode array can provide repeatable, accurate point-and-click control of a computer interface to an individual with tetraplegia 1000 days after implantation of this sensor.

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pdf pdf from publisher link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Unscented Kalman Filtering for Articulated Human Tracking

Anders Boesen Lindbo Larsen, Soren Hauberg, Kim S. Pedersen

In Image Analysis, 6688, pages: 228-237, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, (Editors: Heyden, Anders and Kahl, Fredrik), Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2011 (inproceedings)

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Publishers site PDF [BibTex]

Publishers site PDF [BibTex]


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Adaptation for perception of the human body: Investigations of transfer across viewpoint and pose

Sekunova, A., Black, M. J., Parkinson, L., Barton, J. S.

Vision Sciences Society, 2011 (conference)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Level Set Segmentation with Robust Image Gradient Energy and Statistical Shape Prior

Si Yong Yeo, Xianghua Xie, Igor Sazonov, Perumal Nithiarasu

In IEEE International Conference on Image Processing, pages: 3397 - 3400, 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We propose a new level set segmentation method with statistical shape prior using a variational approach. The image energy is derived from a robust image gradient feature. This gives the active contour a global representation of the geometric configuration, making it more robust to image noise, weak edges and initial configurations. Statistical shape information is incorporated using nonparametric shape density distribution, which allows the model to handle relatively large shape variations. Comparative examples using both synthetic and real images show the robustness and efficiency of the proposed method.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Understanding haptics by evolving mechatronic systems

Loeb, G. E., Tsianos, G.A., Fishel, J.A., Wettels, N., Schaal, S.

Progress in Brain Research, 192, pages: 129, 2011 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Tipping the Scales: Guidance and Intrinsically Motivated Behavior

Martius, G., Herrmann, J. M.

In Advances in Artificial Life, ECAL 2011, pages: 506-513, (Editors: Tom Lenaerts and Mario Giacobini and Hugues Bersini and Paul Bourgine and Marco Dorigo and René Doursat), MIT Press, 2011 (incollection)

al

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Movement segmentation using a primitive library

Meier, F., Theodorou, E., Stulp, F., Schaal, S.

In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2011), Sept. 25-30, San Francisco, CA, 2011, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Segmenting complex movements into a sequence of primitives remains a difficult problem with many applications in the robotics and vision communities. In this work, we show how the movement segmentation problem can be reduced to a sequential movement recognition problem. To this end, we reformulate the orig-inal Dynamic Movement Primitive (DMP) formulation as a linear dynamical sys-tem with control inputs. Based on this new formulation, we develop an Expecta-tion-Maximization algorithm to estimate the duration and goal position of a par-tially observed trajectory. With the help of this algorithm and the assumption that a library of movement primitives is present, we present a movement seg-mentation framework. We illustrate the usefulness of the new DMP formulation on the two applications of online movement recognition and movement segmen-tation.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Variational Level Set Segmentation Using Shape Prior

Si Yong Yeo, Xianghua Xie, Igor Sazonov, Perumal Nithiarasu

In International Conference on Mathematical and Computational Biomedical Engineering, 2011 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Learning Force Control Policies for Compliant Manipulation

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

In 2011 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 4639-4644, IEEE, San Francisco, USA, sep 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Developing robots capable of fine manipulation skills is of major importance in order to build truly assistive robots. These robots need to be compliant in their actuation and control in order to operate safely in human environments. Manipulation tasks imply complex contact interactions with the external world, and involve reasoning about the forces and torques to be applied. Planning under contact conditions is usually impractical due to computational complexity, and a lack of precise dynamics models of the environment. We present an approach to acquiring manipulation skills on compliant robots through reinforcement learning. The initial position control policy for manipulation is initialized through kinesthetic demonstration. We augment this policy with a force/torque profile to be controlled in combination with the position trajectories. We use the Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2) algorithm to learn these force/torque profiles by optimizing a cost function that measures task success. We demonstrate our approach on the Barrett WAM robot arm equipped with a 6-DOF force/torque sensor on two different manipulation tasks: opening a door with a lever door handle, and picking up a pen off the table. We show that the learnt force control policies allow successful, robust execution of the tasks.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]