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2018


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Deep Reinforcement Learning for Resource-aware Control

Baumann, D., Zhu, J., Martius, G., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the 57th IEEE International Conference on Decision and Control, Miami, Fl, USA, December 2018 (inproceedings) Accepted

ics al

[BibTex]

2018


[BibTex]


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Minimum Information Exchange in Distributed Systems

Solowjow, F., Mehrjou, A., Schölkopf, B., Trimpe, S.

57th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (CDC), December 2018 (conference) Submitted

ei ics

arXiv [BibTex]

arXiv [BibTex]


Thumb xl universal custom complex magnetic spring design methodology
Universal Custom Complex Magnetic Spring Design Methodology

Woodward, M. A., Sitti, M.

IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, 54(1):1-13, October 2018 (article)

Abstract
A design methodology is presented for creating custom complex magnetic springs through the design of force-displacement curves. This methodology results in a magnet configuration, which will produce a desired force-displacement relationship. Initially, the problem is formulated and solved as a system of linear equations. Then, given the limited likelihood of a single solution being feasibly manufactured, key parameters of the solution are extracted and varied to create a family of solutions. Finally, these solutions are refined using numerical optimization. Given the properties of magnets, this methodology can create any well-defined function of force versus displacement and is model-independent. To demonstrate this flexibility, a number of example magnetic springs are designed; one of which, designed for use in a jumping-gliding robot's shape memory alloy actuated clutch, is manufactured and experimentally characterized. Due to the scaling of magnetic forces, the displacement region which these magnetic springs are most applicable is that of millimeters and below. However, this region is well situated for miniature robots and smart material actuators, where a tailored magnetic spring, designed to compliment a component, can enhance its performance while adding new functionality. The methodology is also expendable to variable interactions and multi-dimensional magnetic field design.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Deep Neural Network-based Cooperative Visual Tracking through Multiple Micro Aerial Vehicles

Price, E., Lawless, G., Ludwig, R., Martinovic, I., Buelthoff, H. H., Black, M. J., Ahmad, A.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Robotics and Automation Letters, 3, pages: 3193-3200, IEEE, October 2018 (article)

Abstract
Multi-camera tracking of humans and animals in outdoor environments is a relevant and challenging problem. Our approach to it involves a team of cooperating micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) with on-board cameras only. DNNs often fail at objects with small scale or far away from the camera, which are typical characteristics of a scenario with aerial robots. Thus, the core problem addressed in this paper is how to achieve on-board, online, continuous and accurate vision-based detections using DNNs for visual person tracking through MAVs. Our solution leverages cooperation among multiple MAVs and active selection of most informative regions of image. We demonstrate the efficiency of our approach through simulations with up to 16 robots and real robot experiments involving two aerial robots tracking a person, while maintaining an active perception-driven formation. ROS-based source code is provided for the benefit of the community.

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link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Direct Sparse Odometry With Rolling Shutter

Schubert, D., Usenko, V., Demmel, N., Stueckler, J., Cremers, D.

European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV), September 2018, accepted as oral presentation, to appear (conference)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Deep Virtual Stereo Odometry: Leveraging Deep Depth Prediction for Monocular Direct Sparse Odometry

Yang, N., Wang, R., Stueckler, J., Cremers, D.

European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV), September 2018, accepted as oral presentation, to appear, arXiv 1807.02570 (conference)

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Learning Human Optical Flow

Ranjan, A., Romero, J., Black, M. J.

September 2018 (conference)

Abstract
The optical flow of humans is well known to be useful for the analysis of human action. Given this, we devise an optical flow algorithm specifically for human motion and show that it is superior to generic flow methods. Designing a method by hand is impractical, so we develop a new training database of image sequences with ground truth optical flow. For this we use a 3D model of the human body and motion capture data to synthesize realistic flow fields. We then train a convolutional neural network to estimate human flow fields from pairs of images. Since many applications in human motion analysis depend on speed, and we anticipate mobile applications, we base our method on SpyNet with several modifications. We demonstrate that our trained network is more accurate than a wide range of top methods on held-out test data and that it generalizes well to real image sequences. When combined with a person detector/tracker, the approach provides a full solution to the problem of 2D human flow estimation. Both the code and the dataset are available for research.

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link (url) [BibTex]


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Learning an Infant Body Model from RGB-D Data for Accurate Full Body Motion Analysis

Hesse, N., Pujades, S., Romero, J., Black, M. J., Bodensteiner, C., Arens, M., Hofmann, U. G., Tacke, U., Hadders-Algra, M., Weinberger, R., Muller-Felber, W., Schroeder, A. S.

In Int. Conf. on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI), September 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Infant motion analysis enables early detection of neurodevelopmental disorders like cerebral palsy (CP). Diagnosis, however, is challenging, requiring expert human judgement. An automated solution would be beneficial but requires the accurate capture of 3D full-body movements. To that end, we develop a non-intrusive, low-cost, lightweight acquisition system that captures the shape and motion of infants. Going beyond work on modeling adult body shape, we learn a 3D Skinned Multi-Infant Linear body model (SMIL) from noisy, low-quality, and incomplete RGB-D data. We demonstrate the capture of shape and motion with 37 infants in a clinical environment. Quantitative experiments show that SMIL faithfully represents the data and properly factorizes the shape and pose of the infants. With a case study based on general movement assessment (GMA), we demonstrate that SMIL captures enough information to allow medical assessment. SMIL provides a new tool and a step towards a fully automatic system for GMA.

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pdf Project page [BibTex]

pdf Project page [BibTex]


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Decentralized MPC based Obstacle Avoidance for Multi-Robot Target Tracking Scenarios

Tallamraju, R., Rajappa, S., Black, M., Karlapalem, K., Ahmad, A.

The 16th IEEE International Symposium on Safety, Security, and Rescue Robotics, August 2018 (conference) Accepted

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Learning an Approximate Model Predictive Controller with Guarantees

Hertneck, M., Koehler, J., Trimpe, S., Allgöwer, F.

IEEE Control Systems Letters, 2(3):543-548, July 2018 (article)

Abstract
A supervised learning framework is proposed to approximate a model predictive controller (MPC) with reduced computational complexity and guarantees on stability and constraint satisfaction. The framework can be used for a wide class of nonlinear systems. Any standard supervised learning technique (e.g. neural networks) can be employed to approximate the MPC from samples. In order to obtain closed-loop guarantees for the learned MPC, a robust MPC design is combined with statistical learning bounds. The MPC design ensures robustness to inaccurate inputs within given bounds, and Hoeffding’s Inequality is used to validate that the learned MPC satisfies these bounds with high confidence. The result is a closed-loop statistical guarantee on stability and constraint satisfaction for the learned MPC. The proposed learning-based MPC framework is illustrated on a nonlinear benchmark problem, for which we learn a neural network controller with guarantees.

ics

PDF DOI [BibTex]

PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Robust Physics-based Motion Retargeting with Realistic Body Shapes

Borno, M. A., Righetti, L., Black, M. J., Delp, S. L., Fiume, E., Romero, J.

Computer Graphics Forum, 37, pages: 6:1-12, July 2018 (article)

Abstract
Motion capture is often retargeted to new, and sometimes drastically different, characters. When the characters take on realistic human shapes, however, we become more sensitive to the motion looking right. This means adapting it to be consistent with the physical constraints imposed by different body shapes. We show how to take realistic 3D human shapes, approximate them using a simplified representation, and animate them so that they move realistically using physically-based retargeting. We develop a novel spacetime optimization approach that learns and robustly adapts physical controllers to new bodies and constraints. The approach automatically adapts the motion of the mocap subject to the body shape of a target subject. This motion respects the physical properties of the new body and every body shape results in a different and appropriate movement. This makes it easy to create a varied set of motions from a single mocap sequence by simply varying the characters. In an interactive environment, successful retargeting requires adapting the motion to unexpected external forces. We achieve robustness to such forces using a novel LQR-tree formulation. We show that the simulated motions look appropriate to each character’s anatomy and their actions are robust to perturbations.

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pdf video [BibTex]

pdf video [BibTex]


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Comparison-Based Random Forests

Haghiri, S., Garreau, D., Luxburg, U. V.

In ICML, 35th International Conference on Machine Learning, July 2018 (inproceedings)

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Probabilistic Recurrent State-Space Models

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

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

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

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arXiv pdf Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Real-time Perception meets Reactive Motion Generation

Kappler, D., Meier, F., Issac, J., Mainprice, J., Garcia Cifuentes, C., Wüthrich, M., Berenz, V., Schaal, S., Ratliff, N., Bohg, J.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 3(3):1864-1871, July 2018 (article)

Abstract
We address the challenging problem of robotic grasping and manipulation in the presence of uncertainty. This uncertainty is due to noisy sensing, inaccurate models and hard-to-predict environment dynamics. Our approach emphasizes the importance of continuous, real-time perception and its tight integration with reactive motion generation methods. We present a fully integrated system where real-time object and robot tracking as well as ambient world modeling provides the necessary input to feedback controllers and continuous motion optimizers. Specifically, they provide attractive and repulsive potentials based on which the controllers and motion optimizer can online compute movement policies at different time intervals. We extensively evaluate the proposed system on a real robotic platform in four scenarios that exhibit either challenging workspace geometry or a dynamic environment. We compare the proposed integrated system with a more traditional sense-plan-act approach that is still widely used. In 333 experiments, we show the robustness and accuracy of the proposed system.

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arxiv video video link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Thumb xl screen shot 2018 06 29 at 4.24.39 pm
Innate turning preference of leaf-cutting ants in the absence of external orientation cues

Endlein, T., Sitti, M.

Journal of Experimental Biology, The Company of Biologists Ltd, June 2018 (article)

Abstract
Many ants use a combination of cues for orientation but how do ants find their way when all external cues are suppressed? Do they walk in a random way or are their movements spatially oriented? Here we show for the first time that leaf-cutting ants (Acromyrmex lundii) have an innate preference of turning counter-clockwise (left) when external cues are precluded. We demonstrated this by allowing individual ants to run freely on the water surface of a newly-developed treadmill. The surface tension supported medium-sized workers but effectively prevented ants from reaching the wall of the vessel, important to avoid wall-following behaviour (thigmotaxis). Most ants ran for minutes on the spot but also slowly turned counter-clockwise in the absence of visual cues. Reconstructing the effectively walked path revealed a looping pattern which could be interpreted as a search strategy. A similar turning bias was shown for groups of ants in a symmetrical Y-maze where twice as many ants chose the left branch in the absence of optical cues. Wall-following behaviour was tested by inserting a coiled tube before the Y-fork. When ants traversed a left-coiled tube, more ants chose the left box and vice versa. Adding visual cues in form of vertical black strips either outside the treadmill or on one branch of the Y-maze led to oriented walks towards the strips. It is suggested that both, the turning bias and the wall-following are employed as search strategies for an unknown environment which can be overridden by visual cues.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Motility and chemotaxis of bacteria-driven microswimmers fabricated using antigen 43-mediated biotin display

Schauer, O., Mostaghaci, B., Colin, R., Hürtgen, D., Kraus, D., Sitti, M., Sourjik, V.

Scientific Reports, 8(1):9801, Nature Publishing Group, June 2018 (article)

Abstract
Bacteria-driven biohybrid microswimmers (bacteriabots) combine synthetic cargo with motile living bacteria that enable propulsion and steering. Although fabrication and potential use of such bacteriabots have attracted much attention, existing methods of fabrication require an extensive sample preparation that can drastically decrease the viability and motility of bacteria. Moreover, chemotactic behavior of bacteriabots in a liquid medium with chemical gradients has remained largely unclear. To overcome these shortcomings, we designed Escherichia coli to autonomously display biotin on its cell surface via the engineered autotransporter antigen 43 and thus to bind streptavidin-coated cargo. We show that the cargo attachment to these bacteria is greatly enhanced by motility and occurs predominantly at the cell poles, which is greatly beneficial for the fabrication of motile bacteriabots. We further performed a systemic study to understand and optimize the ability of these bacteriabots to follow chemical gradients. We demonstrate that the chemotaxis of bacteriabots is primarily limited by the cargo-dependent reduction of swimming speed and show that the fabrication of bacteriabots using elongated E. coli cells can be used to overcome this limitation.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Multifunctional ferrofluid-infused surfaces with reconfigurable multiscale topography

Wang, W., Timonen, J. V. I., Carlson, A., Drotlef, D., Zhang, C. T., Kolle, S., Grinthal, A., Wong, T., Hatton, B., Kang, S. H., Kennedy, S., Chi, J., Blough, R. T., Sitti, M., Mahadevan, L., Aizenberg, J.

Nature, June 2018 (article)

Abstract
Developing adaptive materials with geometries that change in response to external stimuli provides fundamental insights into the links between the physical forces involved and the resultant morphologies and creates a foundation for technologically relevant dynamic systems1,2. In particular, reconfigurable surface topography as a means to control interfacial properties 3 has recently been explored using responsive gels 4 , shape-memory polymers 5 , liquid crystals6-8 and hybrid composites9-14, including magnetically active slippery surfaces12-14. However, these designs exhibit a limited range of topographical changes and thus a restricted scope of function. Here we introduce a hierarchical magneto-responsive composite surface, made by infiltrating a ferrofluid into a microstructured matrix (termed ferrofluid-containing liquid-infused porous surfaces, or FLIPS). We demonstrate various topographical reconfigurations at multiple length scales and a broad range of associated emergent behaviours. An applied magnetic-field gradient induces the movement of magnetic nanoparticles suspended in the ferrofluid, which leads to microscale flow of the ferrofluid first above and then within the microstructured surface. This redistribution changes the initially smooth surface of the ferrofluid (which is immobilized by the porous matrix through capillary forces) into various multiscale hierarchical topographies shaped by the size, arrangement and orientation of the confining microstructures in the magnetic field. We analyse the spatial and temporal dynamics of these reconfigurations theoretically and experimentally as a function of the balance between capillary and magnetic pressures15-19 and of the geometric anisotropy of the FLIPS system. Several interesting functions at three different length scales are demonstrated: self-assembly of colloidal particles at the micrometre scale; regulated flow of liquid droplets at the millimetre scale; and switchable adhesion and friction, liquid pumping and removal of biofilms at the centimetre scale. We envision that FLIPS could be used as part of integrated control systems for the manipulation and transport of matter, thermal management, microfluidics and fouling-release materials.

pi

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Event-triggered Learning for Resource-efficient Networked Control

Solowjow, F., Baumann, D., Garcke, J., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the 2018 American Control Conference (ACC), June 2018 (inproceedings)

ics

arXiv PDF [BibTex]

arXiv PDF [BibTex]


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Reducing 3D Vibrations to 1D in Real Time

Park, G., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Pisa, Italy, June 2018, Hands-on demonstration presented at EuroHaptics (misc)

Abstract
In this demonstration, you will hold two pen-shaped modules: an in-pen and an out-pen. The in-pen is instrumented with a high-bandwidth three-axis accelerometer, and the out-pen contains a one-axis voice coil actuator. Use the in-pen to interact with different surfaces; the measured 3D accelerations are continually converted into 1D vibrations and rendered with the out-pen for you to feel. You can test conversion methods that range from simply selecting a single axis to applying a discrete Fourier transform or principal component analysis for realistic and brisk real-time conversion.

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Thumb xl screen shot 2018 03 22 at 10.40.47 am
Oncilla robot: a versatile open-source quadruped research robot with compliant pantograph legs

Spröwitz, A., Tuleu, A., Ajallooeian, M., Vespignani, M., Moeckel, R., Eckert, P., D’Haene, M., Degrave, J., Nordmann, A., Schrauwen, B., Steil, J., Ijspeert, A. J.

Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 5(67), June 2018, arXiv: 1803.06259 (article)

Abstract
We present Oncilla robot, a novel mobile, quadruped legged locomotion machine. This large-cat sized, 5.1 robot is one of a kind of a recent, bioinspired legged robot class designed with the capability of model-free locomotion control. Animal legged locomotion in rough terrain is clearly shaped by sensor feedback systems. Results with Oncilla robot show that agile and versatile locomotion is possible without sensory signals to some extend, and tracking becomes robust when feedback control is added (Ajaoolleian 2015). By incorporating mechanical and control blueprints inspired from animals, and by observing the resulting robot locomotion characteristics, we aim to understand the contribution of individual components. Legged robots have a wide mechanical and control design parameter space, and a unique potential as research tools to investigate principles of biomechanics and legged locomotion control. But the hardware and controller design can be a steep initial hurdle for academic research. To facilitate the easy start and development of legged robots, Oncilla-robot's blueprints are available through open-source. [...]

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Thumb xl screen shot 2018 04 18 at 11.01.27 am
Learning from Outside the Viability Kernel: Why we Should Build Robots that can Fail with Grace

Heim, S., Spröwitz, A.

Proceedings of SIMPAR 2018, pages: 55-61, IEEE, 2018 IEEE International Conference on Simulation, Modeling, and Programming for Autonomous Robots (SIMPAR), May 2018 (conference)

dlg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Self-Sensing Paper Actuators Based on Graphite–Carbon Nanotube Hybrid Films

Morteza, A., Metin, S.

Advanced Science, pages: 1800239, May 2018 (article)

Abstract
Abstract Soft actuators have demonstrated potential in a range of applications, including soft robotics, artificial muscles, and biomimetic devices. However, the majority of current soft actuators suffer from the lack of real-time sensory feedback, prohibiting their effective sensing and multitask function. Here, a promising strategy is reported to design bilayer electrothermal actuators capable of simultaneous actuation and sensation (i.e., self-sensing actuators), merely through two input electric terminals. Decoupled electrothermal stimulation and strain sensation is achieved by the optimal combination of graphite microparticles and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in the form of hybrid films. By finely tuning the charge transport properties of hybrid films, the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of self-sensing actuators is remarkably enhanced to over 66. As a result, self-sensing actuators can actively track their displacement and distinguish the touch of soft and hard objects.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Bioinspired microrobots

Palagi, S., Fischer, P.

Nature Reviews Materials, 3, pages: 113–124, May 2018 (article)

Abstract
Microorganisms can move in complex media, respond to the environment and self-organize. The field of microrobotics strives to achieve these functions in mobile robotic systems of sub-millimetre size. However, miniaturization of traditional robots and their control systems to the microscale is not a viable approach. A promising alternative strategy in developing microrobots is to implement sensing, actuation and control directly in the materials, thereby mimicking biological matter. In this Review, we discuss design principles and materials for the implementation of robotic functionalities in microrobots. We examine different biological locomotion strategies, and we discuss how they can be artificially recreated in magnetic microrobots and how soft materials improve control and performance. We show that smart, stimuli-responsive materials can act as on-board sensors and actuators and that ‘active matter’ enables autonomous motion, navigation and collective behaviours. Finally, we provide a critical outlook for the field of microrobotics and highlight the challenges that need to be overcome to realize sophisticated microrobots, which one day might rival biological machines.

pf

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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On Time Optimization of Centroidal Momentum Dynamics

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

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

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

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video paper [BibTex]

video paper [BibTex]


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Adversarial Collaboration: Joint Unsupervised Learning of Depth, Camera Motion, Optical Flow and Motion Segmentation

Ranjan, A., Jampani, V., Kim, K., Sun, D., Wulff, J., Black, M. J.

May 2018 (article)

Abstract
We address the unsupervised learning of several interconnected problems in low-level vision: single view depth prediction, camera motion estimation, optical flow and segmentation of a video into the static scene and moving regions. Our key insight is that these four fundamental vision problems are coupled and, consequently, learning to solve them together simplifies the problem because the solutions can reinforce each other by exploiting known geometric constraints. In order to model geometric constraints, we introduce Adversarial Collaboration, a framework that facilitates competition and collaboration between neural networks. We go beyond previous work by exploiting geometry more explicitly and segmenting the scene into static and moving regions. Adversarial Collaboration works much like expectation-maximization but with neural networks that act as adversaries, competing to explain pixels that correspond to static or moving regions, and as collaborators through a moderator that assigns pixels to be either static or independently moving. Our novel method integrates all these problems in a common framework and simultaneously reasons about the segmentation of the scene into moving objects and the static background, the camera motion, depth of the static scene structure, and the optical flow of moving objects. Our model is trained without any supervision and achieves state of the art results amongst unsupervised methods.

ps

link (url) [BibTex]


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Robust Dense Mapping for Large-Scale Dynamic Environments

Barsan, I. A., Liu, P., Pollefeys, M., Geiger, A.

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

Abstract
We present a stereo-based dense mapping algorithm for large-scale dynamic urban environments. In contrast to other existing methods, we simultaneously reconstruct the static background, the moving objects, and the potentially moving but currently stationary objects separately, which is desirable for high-level mobile robotic tasks such as path planning in crowded environments. We use both instance-aware semantic segmentation and sparse scene flow to classify objects as either background, moving, or potentially moving, thereby ensuring that the system is able to model objects with the potential to transition from static to dynamic, such as parked cars. Given camera poses estimated from visual odometry, both the background and the (potentially) moving objects are reconstructed separately by fusing the depth maps computed from the stereo input. In addition to visual odometry, sparse scene flow is also used to estimate the 3D motions of the detected moving objects, in order to reconstruct them accurately. A map pruning technique is further developed to improve reconstruction accuracy and reduce memory consumption, leading to increased scalability. We evaluate our system thoroughly on the well-known KITTI dataset. Our system is capable of running on a PC at approximately 2.5Hz, with the primary bottleneck being the instance-aware semantic segmentation, which is a limitation we hope to address in future work.

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pdf Video Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Video Project Page [BibTex]


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An Online Scalable Approach to Unified Multirobot Cooperative Localization and Object Tracking

Ahmad, A., Lawless, G., Lima, P.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2018, Journal Track., ICRA 2018, May 2018 (inproceedings)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Online Learning of a Memory for Learning Rates

(nominated for best paper award)

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

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

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

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pdf video code [BibTex]

pdf video code [BibTex]


Thumb xl screenshot 2018 05 18 16 38 40
Learning 3D Shape Completion under Weak Supervision

Stutz, D., Geiger, A.

Arxiv, May 2018 (article)

Abstract
We address the problem of 3D shape completion from sparse and noisy point clouds, a fundamental problem in computer vision and robotics. Recent approaches are either data-driven or learning-based: Data-driven approaches rely on a shape model whose parameters are optimized to fit the observations; Learning-based approaches, in contrast, avoid the expensive optimization step by learning to directly predict complete shapes from incomplete observations in a fully-supervised setting. However, full supervision is often not available in practice. In this work, we propose a weakly-supervised learning-based approach to 3D shape completion which neither requires slow optimization nor direct supervision. While we also learn a shape prior on synthetic data, we amortize, i.e., learn, maximum likelihood fitting using deep neural networks resulting in efficient shape completion without sacrificing accuracy. On synthetic benchmarks based on ShapeNet and ModelNet as well as on real robotics data from KITTI and Kinect, we demonstrate that the proposed amortized maximum likelihood approach is able to compete with fully supervised baselines and outperforms data-driven approaches, while requiring less supervision and being significantly faster.

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PDF Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Thumb xl screen shot 2018 02 03 at 9.09.06 am
Shaping in Practice: Training Wheels to Learn Fast Hopping Directly in Hardware

Heim, S., Ruppert, F., Sarvestani, A., Spröwitz, A.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2018, pages: 5076-5081, IEEE, International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Learning instead of designing robot controllers can greatly reduce engineering effort required, while also emphasizing robustness. Despite considerable progress in simulation, applying learning directly in hardware is still challenging, in part due to the necessity to explore potentially unstable parameters. We explore the of concept shaping the reward landscape with training wheels; temporary modifications of the physical hardware that facilitate learning. We demonstrate the concept with a robot leg mounted on a boom learning to hop fast. This proof of concept embodies typical challenges such as instability and contact, while being simple enough to empirically map out and visualize the reward landscape. Based on our results we propose three criteria for designing effective training wheels for learning in robotics.

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Video Youtube link (url) [BibTex]

Video Youtube link (url) [BibTex]


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

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

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

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pdf video [BibTex]

pdf video [BibTex]


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Nonlinear decoding of a complex movie from the mammalian retina

Botella-Soler, V., Deny, S., Martius, G., Marre, O., Tkačik, G.

PLOS Computational Biology, 14(5):1-27, Public Library of Science, May 2018 (article)

Abstract
Author summary Neurons in the retina transform patterns of incoming light into sequences of neural spikes. We recorded from ∼100 neurons in the rat retina while it was stimulated with a complex movie. Using machine learning regression methods, we fit decoders to reconstruct the movie shown from the retinal output. We demonstrated that retinal code can only be read out with a low error if decoders make use of correlations between successive spikes emitted by individual neurons. These correlations can be used to ignore spontaneous spiking that would, otherwise, cause even the best linear decoders to “hallucinate” nonexistent stimuli. This work represents the first high resolution single-trial full movie reconstruction and suggests a new paradigm for separating spontaneous from stimulus-driven neural activity.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Graphene-silver hybrid devices for sensitive photodetection in the ultraviolet

Paria, D., Jeong, H., Vadakkumbatt, V., Deshpande, P., Fischer, P., Ghosh, A., Ghosh, A.

Nanoscale, 10, pages: 7685-7693, The Royal Society of Chemistry, April 2018 (article)

Abstract
The weak light-matter interaction in graphene can be enhanced with a number of strategies{,} among which sensitization with plasmonic nanostructures is particularly attractive. This has resulted in the development of graphene-plasmonic hybrid systems with strongly enhanced photodetection efficiencies in the visible and the IR{,} but none in the UV. Here{,} we describe a silver nanoparticle-graphene stacked optoelectronic device that shows strong enhancement of its photoresponse across the entire UV spectrum. The device fabrication strategy is scalable and modular. Self-assembly techniques are combined with physical shadow growth techniques to fabricate a regular large-area array of 50 nm silver nanoparticles onto which CVD graphene is transferred. The presence of the silver nanoparticles resulted in a plasmonically enhanced photoresponse as high as 3.2 A W-1 in the wavelength range from 330 nm to 450 nm. At lower wavelengths{,} close to the Van Hove singularity of the density of states in graphene{,} we measured an even higher responsivity of 14.5 A W-1 at 280 nm{,} which corresponds to a more than 10 000-fold enhancement over the photoresponse of native graphene.

pf

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Motion-based Object Segmentation based on Dense RGB-D Scene Flow

Shao, L., Shah, P., Dwaracherla, V., Bohg, J.

arXiv, April 2018 (conference)

Abstract
Given two consecutive RGB-D images, we propose a model that estimates a dense 3D motion field, also known as scene flow. We take advantage of the fact that in robot manipulation scenarios, scenes often consist of a set of rigidly moving objects. Our model jointly estimates (i) the segmentation of the scene into an unknown but finite number of objects, (ii) the motion trajectories of these objects and (iii) the object scene flow. We employ an hourglass, deep neural network architecture. In the encoding stage, the RGB and depth images undergo spatial compression and correlation. In the decoding stage, the model outputs three images containing a per-pixel estimate of the corresponding object center as well as object translation and rotation. This forms the basis for inferring the object segmentation and final object scene flow. To evaluate our model, we generated a new and challenging, large-scale, synthetic dataset that is specifically targeted at robotic manipulation: It contains a large number of scenes with a very diverse set of simultaneously moving 3D objects and is recorded with a commonly-used RGB-D camera. In quantitative experiments, we show that we significantly outperform state-of-the-art scene flow and motion-segmentation methods. In qualitative experiments, we show how our learned model transfers to challenging real-world scenes, visually generating significantly better results than existing methods.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Nanoparticles on the move for medicine

Fischer, P.

Physics World Focus on Nanotechnology, pages: 26028, (Editors: Margaret Harris), IOP Publishing Ltd and individual contributors, April 2018 (article)

Abstract
Peer Fischer outlines the prospects for creating “nanoswimmers” that can be steered through the body to deliver drugs directly to their targets Molecules don’t move very fast on their own. If they had to rely solely on diffusion – a slow and inefficient process linked to the Brownian motion of small particles and molecules in solution – then a protein mole­cule, for instance, would take around three weeks to travel a single centimetre down a nerve fibre. This is why active transport mechanisms exist in cells and in the human body: without them, all the processes of life would happen at a pace that would make snails look speedy.

pf

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Poster Abstract: Toward Fast Closed-loop Control over Multi-hop Low-power Wireless Networks

Mager, F., Baumann, D., Trimpe, S., Zimmerling, M.

Proceedings of the 17th ACM/IEEE Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (IPSN), pages: 158-159, Porto, Portugal, April 2018 (poster)

ics

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Soft erythrocyte-based bacterial microswimmers for cargo delivery

Alapan, Y., Yasa, O., Schauer, O., Giltinan, J., Tabak, A. F., Sourjik, V., Sitti, M.

Science Robotics, 3(17), Science Robotics, April 2018 (article)

Abstract
Bacteria-propelled biohybrid microswimmers have recently shown to be able to actively transport and deliver cargos encapsulated into their synthetic constructs to specific regions locally. However, usage of synthetic materials as cargo carriers can result in inferior performance in load-carrying efficiency, biocompatibility, and biodegradability, impeding clinical translation of biohybrid microswimmers. Here, we report construction and external guidance of bacteria-driven microswimmers using red blood cells (RBCs; erythrocytes) as autologous cargo carriers for active and guided drug delivery. Multifunctional biohybrid microswimmers were fabricated by attachment of RBCs [loaded with anticancer doxorubicin drug molecules and superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs)] to bioengineered motile bacteria, Escherichia coli MG1655, via biotin-avidin-biotin binding complex. Autonomous and on-board propulsion of biohybrid microswimmers was provided by bacteria, and their external magnetic guidance was enabled by SPIONs loaded into the RBCs. Furthermore, bacteria-driven RBC microswimmers displayed preserved deformability and attachment stability even after squeezing in microchannels smaller than their sizes, as in the case of bare RBCs. In addition, an on-demand light-activated hyperthermia termination switch was engineered for RBC microswimmers to control bacteria population after operations. RBCs, as biological and autologous cargo carriers in the biohybrid microswimmers, offer notable advantages in stability, deformability, biocompatibility, and biodegradability over synthetic cargo-carrier materials. The biohybrid microswimmer design presented here transforms RBCs from passive cargo carriers into active and guidable cargo carriers toward targeted drug and other cargo delivery applications in medicine.

pi

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


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Automatically Rating Trainee Skill at a Pediatric Laparoscopic Suturing Task

Oquendo, Y. A., Riddle, E. W., Hiller, D., Blinman, T. A., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Surgical Endoscopy, 32(4):1840-1857, April 2018 (article)

hi

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Miniature soft robots – road to the clinic

Sitti, M.

Nature Reviews Materials, April 2018 (article)

Abstract
Soft small robots offer the opportunity to non-invasively access human tissue to perform medical operations and deliver drugs; however, challenges in materials design, biocompatibility and function control remain to be overcome for soft robots to reach the clinic.

pi

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Evaluating Low-Power Wireless Cyber-Physical Systems

Baumann, D., Mager, F., Singh, H., Zimmerling, M., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Benchmarking Cyber-Physical Networks and Systems (CPSBench 2018), Porto, Portugal, April 2018 (inproceedings)

ics

arXiv PDF [BibTex]

arXiv PDF [BibTex]


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Wrinkling Instability and Adhesion of a Highly Bendable Gallium Oxide Nanofilm Encapsulating a Liquid-Gallium Droplet

Yunusa, M., Amador, G. J., Drotlef, D., Sitti, M.

Nano Letters, March 2018, PMID: 29510627 (article)

Abstract
The wrinkling and interfacial adhesion mechanics of a gallium-oxide nanofilm encapsulating a liquid-gallium droplet are presented. The native oxide nanofilm provides mechanical stability by preventing the flow of the liquid metal. We show how a crumpled oxide skin a few nanometers thick behaves akin to a highly bendable elastic nanofilm under ambient conditions. Upon compression, a wrinkling instability emerges at the contact interface to relieve the applied stress. As the load is further increased, radial wrinkles evolve, and, eventually, the oxide nanofilm ruptures. The observed wrinkling closely resembles the instability experienced by nanofilms under axisymmetric loading, thus providing further insights into the behaviors of elastic nanofilms. Moreover, the mechanical attributes of the oxide skin enable high surface conformation by exhibiting liquid-like behavior. We measured an adhesion energy of 0.238 ± 0.008 J m–2 between a liquid-gallium droplet and smooth flat glass, which is close to the measurements of thin-sheet nanomaterials such as graphene on silicon dioxide.

pi

link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Thumb xl screenshot 2018 5 9 1803 01048 pdf
Magnetic-Visual Sensor Fusion-based Dense 3D Reconstruction and Localization for Endoscopic Capsule Robots

Turan, M., Almalioglu, Y., Ornek, E. P., Araujo, H., Yanik, M. F., Sitti, M.

ArXiv e-prints, March 2018 (article)

Abstract
Reliable and real-time 3D reconstruction and localization functionality is a crucial prerequisite for the navigation of actively controlled capsule endoscopic robots as an emerging, minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic technology for use in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In this study, we propose a fully dense, non-rigidly deformable, strictly real-time, intraoperative map fusion approach for actively controlled endoscopic capsule robot applications which combines magnetic and vision-based localization, with non-rigid deformations based frame-to-model map fusion. The performance of the proposed method is demonstrated using four different ex-vivo porcine stomach models. Across different trajectories of varying speed and complexity, and four different endoscopic cameras, the root mean square surface reconstruction errors 1.58 to 2.17 cm.

pi

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


Thumb xl screenshot 2018 5 9 1803 01047 pdf
Unsupervised Odometry and Depth Learning for Endoscopic Capsule Robots

Turan, M., Ornek, E. P., Ibrahimli, N., Giracoglu, C., Almalioglu, Y., Yanik, M. F., Sitti, M.

ArXiv e-prints, March 2018 (article)

Abstract
In the last decade, many medical companies and research groups have tried to convert passive capsule endoscopes as an emerging and minimally invasive diagnostic technology into actively steerable endoscopic capsule robots which will provide more intuitive disease detection, targeted drug delivery and biopsy-like operations in the gastrointestinal(GI) tract. In this study, we introduce a fully unsupervised, real-time odometry and depth learner for monocular endoscopic capsule robots. We establish the supervision by warping view sequences and assigning the re-projection minimization to the loss function, which we adopt in multi-view pose estimation and single-view depth estimation network. Detailed quantitative and qualitative analyses of the proposed framework performed on non-rigidly deformable ex-vivo porcine stomach datasets proves the effectiveness of the method in terms of motion estimation and depth recovery.

pi

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Self‐Folded Hydrogel Tubes for Implantable Muscular Tissue Scaffolds

Vannozzi, L., Yasa, I. C., Ceylan, H., Menciassi, A., Ricotti, L., Sitti, M.

Macromolecular Bioscience, (0):1700377, March 2018 (article)

Abstract
Abstract Programming materials with tunable physical and chemical interactions among its components pave the way of generating 3D functional active microsystems with various potential applications in tissue engineering, drug delivery, and soft robotics. Here, the development of a recapitulated fascicle‐like implantable muscle construct by programmed self‐folding of poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate hydrogels is reported. The system comprises two stacked layers, each with differential swelling degrees, stiffnesses, and thicknesses in 2D, which folds into a 3D tube together. Inside the tubes, muscle cell adhesion and their spatial alignment are controlled. Both skeletal and cardiac muscle cells also exhibit high viability, and cardiac myocytes preserve their contractile function over the course of 7 d. Integration of biological cells with smart, shape‐changing materials could give rise to the development of new cellular constructs for hierarchical tissue assembly, drug testing platforms, and biohybrid actuators that can perform sophisticated tasks.

pi

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Redox metals homeostasis in multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a review

Sheykhansari, S., Kozielski, K., Bill, J., Sitti, M., Gemmati, D., Zamboni, P., Singh, A. V.

Cell Death \& Disease, 9(3):348, March 2018 (article)

Abstract
The effect of redox metals such as iron and copper on multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been intensively studied. However, the origin of these disorders remains uncertain. This review article critically describes the physiology of redox metals that produce oxidative stress, which in turn leads to cascades of immunomodulatory alteration of neurons in multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Iron and copper overload has been well established in motor neurons of these diseases' lesions. On the other hand, the role of other metals like cadmium participating indirectly in the redox cascade of neurobiological mechanism is less studied. In the second part of this review, we focus on this less conspicuous correlation between cadmium as an inactive-redox metal and multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, providing novel treatment modalities and approaches as future prospects.

pi

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Cancer cells biomineralize ionic gold into nanoparticles-microplates via secreting defense proteins with specific gold-binding peptides

Singh, A. V., Jahnke, T., Kishore, V., Park, B., Batuwangala, M., Bill, J., Sitti, M.

Acta Biomaterialia, March 2018 (article)

Abstract
Cancer cells have the capacity to synthesize nanoparticles (NPs). The detailed mechanism of this process is not very well documented. We report the mechanism of biomineralization of aqueous gold chloride into NPs and microplates in the breast-cancer cell line MCF7. Spherical gold NPs are synthesized in these cells in the presence of serum in the culture media by the reduction of HAuCl4. In the absence of serum, the cells exhibit gold microplate formation through seed-mediate growth albeit slower reduction. The structural characteristics of the two types of NPs under different media conditions were confirmed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM); crystallinity and metallic properties were assessed with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Gold-reducing proteins, related to cell stress initiate the biomineralization of HAuCl4 in cells (under serum free conditions) as confirmed by infrared (IR) spectroscopy. MCF7 cells undergo irreversible replicative senescence when exposed to a high concentration of ionic gold and conversely remain in a dormant reversible quiescent state when exposed to a low gold concentration. The latter cellular state was achievable in the presence of the rho/ROCK inhibitor Y-27632. Proteomic analysis revealed consistent expression of specific proteins under serum and serum-free conditions. A high-throughput proteomic approach to screen gold-reducing proteins and peptide sequences was utilized and validated by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D). Statement of significance Cancer cells are known to synthesize gold nanoparticles and microstructures, which are promising for bioimaging and other therapeutic applications. However, the detailed mechanism of such biomineralization process is not well understood yet. Herein, we demonstrate that cancer cells exposed to gold ions (grown in serum/serum-free conditions) secrete shock and stress-related proteins with specific gold-binding/reducing polypeptides. Cells undergo reversible senescence and can recover normal physiology when treated with the senescence inhibitor depending on culture condition. The use of mammalian cells as microincubators for synthesis of such particles could have potential influence on their uptake and biocompatibility. This study has important implications for in-situ reduction of ionic gold to anisotropic micro-nanostructures that could be used in-vivo clinical applications and tumor photothermal therapy.

pi

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Robotic Motion Learning Framework to Promote Social Engagement

Rachael Burns, M. J. C. H. P.

Applied Sciences, Special Issue "Social Robotics", Febuary 2018 (article)

Abstract
Imitation is a powerful component of communication between people, and it poses an important implication in improving the quality of interaction in the field of human–robot interaction (HRI). This paper discusses a novel framework designed to improve human–robot interaction through robotic imitation of a participant’s gestures. In our experiment, a humanoid robotic agent socializes with and plays games with a participant. For the experimental group, the robot additionally imitates one of the participant’s novel gestures during a play session. We hypothesize that the robot’s use of imitation will increase the participant’s openness towards engaging with the robot. Experimental results from a user study of 12 subjects show that post-imitation, experimental subjects displayed a more positive emotional state, had higher instances of mood contagion towards the robot, and interpreted the robot to have a higher level of autonomy than their control group counterparts did. These results point to an increased participant interest in engagement fueled by personalized imitation during interaction.

hi

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Photogravitactic Microswimmers

Singh, D. P., Uspal, W. E., Popescu, M. N., Wilson, L. G., Fischer, P.

Advanced Functional Materials, pages: 1706660, Febuary 2018 (article)

Abstract
Abstract Phototactic microorganisms are commonly observed to respond to natural sunlight by swimming upward against gravity. This study demonstrates that synthetic photochemically active microswimmers can also swim against gravity. The particles initially sediment and, when illuminated at low light intensities exhibit wall‐bound states of motion near the bottom surface. Upon increasing the intensity of light, the artificial swimmers lift off from the wall and swim against gravity and away from the light source. This motion in the bulk has been further confirmed using holographic microscopy. A theoretical model is presented within the framework of self‐diffusiophoresis, which allows to unequivocally identify the photochemical activity and the phototactic response as key mechanisms in the observed phenomenology. Since the lift‐off threshold intensity depends on the particle size, it can be exploited to selectively address particles with the same density from a polydisperse mixture of active particles and move them in or out of the boundary region. This study provides a simple design strategy to fabricate artificial microswimmers whose two‐ or three‐dimensional swimming behavior can be controlled with light.

pf

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Chiral Plasmonic Hydrogen Sensors

Matuschek, M., Singh, D. P., Hyeon-Ho, J., Nesterov, M., Weiss, T., Fischer, P., Neubrech, F., Na Liu, L.

Small, 14(7):1702990, Febuary 2018 (article)

Abstract
Abstract In this article, a chiral plasmonic hydrogen‐sensing platform using palladium‐based nanohelices is demonstrated. Such 3D chiral nanostructures fabricated by nanoglancing angle deposition exhibit strong circular dichroism both experimentally and theoretically. The chiroptical properties of the palladium nanohelices are altered upon hydrogen uptake and sensitively depend on the hydrogen concentration. Such properties are well suited for remote and spark‐free hydrogen sensing in the flammable range. Hysteresis is reduced, when an increasing amount of gold is utilized in the palladium‐gold hybrid helices. As a result, the linearity of the circular dichroism in response to hydrogen is significantly improved. The chiral plasmonic sensor scheme is of potential interest for hydrogen‐sensing applications, where good linearity and high sensitivity are required.

pf

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Electro-Active Polymer Based Soft Tactile Interface for Wearable Devices

Mun, S., Yun, S., Nam, S., Park, S. K., Park, S., Park, B. J., Lim, J. M., Kyung, K. U.

IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 11(1):15-21, Febuary 2018 (article)

Abstract
This paper reports soft actuator based tactile stimulation interfaces applicable to wearable devices. The soft actuator is prepared by multi-layered accumulation of thin electro-active polymer (EAP) films. The multi-layered actuator is designed to produce electrically-induced convex protrusive deformation, which can be dynamically programmable for wide range of tactile stimuli. The maximum vertical protrusion is 650 μm and the output force is up to 255 mN. The soft actuators are embedded into the fingertip part of a glove and front part of a forearm band, respectively. We have conducted two kinds of experiments with 15 subjects. Perceived magnitudes of actuator's protrusion and vibrotactile intensity were measured with frequency of 1 Hz and 191 Hz, respectively. Analysis of the user tests shows participants perceive variation of protrusion height at the finger pad and modulation of vibration intensity through the proposed soft actuator based tactile interface.

hi

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]