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2017


Interactive Perception: Leveraging Action in Perception and Perception in Action
Interactive Perception: Leveraging Action in Perception and Perception in Action

Bohg, J., Hausman, K., Sankaran, B., Brock, O., Kragic, D., Schaal, S., Sukhatme, G.

IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 33, pages: 1273-1291, December 2017 (article)

Abstract
Recent approaches in robotics follow the insight that perception is facilitated by interactivity with the environment. These approaches are subsumed under the term of Interactive Perception (IP). We argue that IP provides the following benefits: (i) any type of forceful interaction with the environment creates a new type of informative sensory signal that would otherwise not be present and (ii) any prior knowledge about the nature of the interaction supports the interpretation of the signal. This is facilitated by knowledge of the regularity in the combined space of sensory information and action parameters. The goal of this survey is to postulate this as a principle and collect evidence in support by analyzing and categorizing existing work in this area. We also provide an overview of the most important applications of Interactive Perception. We close this survey by discussing the remaining open questions. Thereby, we hope to define a field and inspire future work.

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arXiv DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2017


arXiv DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Learning a model of facial shape and expression from {4D} scans
Learning a model of facial shape and expression from 4D scans

Li, T., Bolkart, T., Black, M. J., Li, H., Romero, J.

ACM Transactions on Graphics, 36(6):194:1-194:17, November 2017, Two first authors contributed equally (article)

Abstract
The field of 3D face modeling has a large gap between high-end and low-end methods. At the high end, the best facial animation is indistinguishable from real humans, but this comes at the cost of extensive manual labor. At the low end, face capture from consumer depth sensors relies on 3D face models that are not expressive enough to capture the variability in natural facial shape and expression. We seek a middle ground by learning a facial model from thousands of accurately aligned 3D scans. Our FLAME model (Faces Learned with an Articulated Model and Expressions) is designed to work with existing graphics software and be easy to fit to data. FLAME uses a linear shape space trained from 3800 scans of human heads. FLAME combines this linear shape space with an articulated jaw, neck, and eyeballs, pose-dependent corrective blendshapes, and additional global expression from 4D face sequences in the D3DFACS dataset along with additional 4D sequences.We accurately register a template mesh to the scan sequences and make the D3DFACS registrations available for research purposes. In total the model is trained from over 33, 000 scans. FLAME is low-dimensional but more expressive than the FaceWarehouse model and the Basel Face Model. We compare FLAME to these models by fitting them to static 3D scans and 4D sequences using the same optimization method. FLAME is significantly more accurate and is available for research purposes (http://flame.is.tue.mpg.de).

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data/model video code chumpy code tensorflow paper supplemental Project Page [BibTex]

data/model video code chumpy code tensorflow paper supplemental Project Page [BibTex]


Acquiring Target Stacking Skills by Goal-Parameterized Deep Reinforcement Learning
Acquiring Target Stacking Skills by Goal-Parameterized Deep Reinforcement Learning

Li, W., Bohg, J., Fritz, M.

arXiv, November 2017 (article) Submitted

Abstract
Understanding physical phenomena is a key component of human intelligence and enables physical interaction with previously unseen environments. In this paper, we study how an artificial agent can autonomously acquire this intuition through interaction with the environment. We created a synthetic block stacking environment with physics simulation in which the agent can learn a policy end-to-end through trial and error. Thereby, we bypass to explicitly model physical knowledge within the policy. We are specifically interested in tasks that require the agent to reach a given goal state that may be different for every new trial. To this end, we propose a deep reinforcement learning framework that learns policies which are parametrized by a goal. We validated the model on a toy example navigating in a grid world with different target positions and in a block stacking task with different target structures of the final tower. In contrast to prior work, our policies show better generalization across different goals.

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arXiv [BibTex]


Investigating Body Image Disturbance in Anorexia Nervosa Using Novel Biometric Figure Rating Scales: A Pilot Study
Investigating Body Image Disturbance in Anorexia Nervosa Using Novel Biometric Figure Rating Scales: A Pilot Study

Mölbert, S. C., Thaler, A., Streuber, S., Black, M. J., Karnath, H., Zipfel, S., Mohler, B., Giel, K. E.

European Eating Disorders Review, 25(6):607-612, November 2017 (article)

Abstract
This study uses novel biometric figure rating scales (FRS) spanning body mass index (BMI) 13.8 to 32.2 kg/m2 and BMI 18 to 42 kg/m2. The aims of the study were (i) to compare FRS body weight dissatisfaction and perceptual distortion of women with anorexia nervosa (AN) to a community sample; (ii) how FRS parameters are associated with questionnaire body dissatisfaction, eating disorder symptoms and appearance comparison habits; and (iii) whether the weight spectrum of the FRS matters. Women with AN (n = 24) and a community sample of women (n = 104) selected their current and ideal body on the FRS and completed additional questionnaires. Women with AN accurately picked the body that aligned best with their actual weight in both FRS. Controls underestimated their BMI in the FRS 14–32 and were accurate in the FRS 18–42. In both FRS, women with AN desired a body close to their actual BMI and controls desired a thinner body. Our observations suggest that body image disturbance in AN is unlikely to be characterized by a visual perceptual disturbance, but rather by an idealization of underweight in conjunction with high body dissatisfaction. The weight spectrum of FRS can influence the accuracy of BMI estimation.

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publisher DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Embodied Hands: Modeling and Capturing Hands and Bodies Together
Embodied Hands: Modeling and Capturing Hands and Bodies Together

Romero, J., Tzionas, D., Black, M. J.

ACM Transactions on Graphics, (Proc. SIGGRAPH Asia), 36(6):245:1-245:17, 245:1–245:17, ACM, November 2017 (article)

Abstract
Humans move their hands and bodies together to communicate and solve tasks. Capturing and replicating such coordinated activity is critical for virtual characters that behave realistically. Surprisingly, most methods treat the 3D modeling and tracking of bodies and hands separately. Here we formulate a model of hands and bodies interacting together and fit it to full-body 4D sequences. When scanning or capturing the full body in 3D, hands are small and often partially occluded, making their shape and pose hard to recover. To cope with low-resolution, occlusion, and noise, we develop a new model called MANO (hand Model with Articulated and Non-rigid defOrmations). MANO is learned from around 1000 high-resolution 3D scans of hands of 31 subjects in a wide variety of hand poses. The model is realistic, low-dimensional, captures non-rigid shape changes with pose, is compatible with standard graphics packages, and can fit any human hand. MANO provides a compact mapping from hand poses to pose blend shape corrections and a linear manifold of pose synergies. We attach MANO to a standard parameterized 3D body shape model (SMPL), resulting in a fully articulated body and hand model (SMPL+H). We illustrate SMPL+H by fitting complex, natural, activities of subjects captured with a 4D scanner. The fitting is fully automatic and results in full body models that move naturally with detailed hand motions and a realism not seen before in full body performance capture. The models and data are freely available for research purposes at http://mano.is.tue.mpg.de.

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website youtube paper suppl video link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

website youtube paper suppl video link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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

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

IEEE Transactions on Robotics (T-RO), 33, pages: 1184 - 1199, October 2017 (article)

Abstract
In this article we present a unified approach for multi-robot cooperative simultaneous localization and object tracking based on particle filters. Our approach is scalable with respect to the number of robots in the team. We introduce a method that reduces, from an exponential to a linear growth, the space and computation time requirements with respect to the number of robots in order to maintain a given level of accuracy in the full state estimation. Our method requires no increase in the number of particles with respect to the number of robots. However, in our method each particle represents a full state hypothesis, leading to the linear dependency on the number of robots of both space and time complexity. The derivation of the algorithm implementing our approach from a standard particle filter algorithm and its complexity analysis are presented. Through an extensive set of simulation experiments on a large number of randomized datasets, we demonstrate the correctness and efficacy of our approach. Through real robot experiments on a standardized open dataset of a team of four soccer playing robots tracking a ball, we evaluate our method's estimation accuracy with respect to the ground truth values. Through comparisons with other methods based on i) nonlinear least squares minimization and ii) joint extended Kalman filter, we further highlight our method's advantages. Finally, we also present a robustness test for our approach by evaluating it under scenarios of communication and vision failure in teammate robots.

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Published Version link (url) DOI [BibTex]

Published Version link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Event-based State Estimation: An Emulation-based Approach

Trimpe, S.

IET Control Theory & Applications, 11(11):1684-1693, July 2017 (article)

Abstract
An event-based state estimation approach for reducing communication in a networked control system is proposed. Multiple distributed sensor agents observe a dynamic process and sporadically transmit their measurements to estimator agents over a shared bus network. Local event-triggering protocols ensure that data is transmitted only when necessary to meet a desired estimation accuracy. The event-based design is shown to emulate the performance of a centralised state observer design up to guaranteed bounds, but with reduced communication. The stability results for state estimation are extended to the distributed control system that results when the local estimates are used for feedback control. Results from numerical simulations and hardware experiments illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach in reducing network communication.

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arXiv Supplementary material PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv Supplementary material PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Probabilistic Articulated Real-Time Tracking for Robot Manipulation
Probabilistic Articulated Real-Time Tracking for Robot Manipulation

(Best Paper of RA-L 2017, Finalist of Best Robotic Vision Paper Award of ICRA 2017)

Garcia Cifuentes, C., Issac, J., Wüthrich, M., Schaal, S., Bohg, J.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L), 2(2):577-584, April 2017 (article)

Abstract
We propose a probabilistic filtering method which fuses joint measurements with depth images to yield a precise, real-time estimate of the end-effector pose in the camera frame. This avoids the need for frame transformations when using it in combination with visual object tracking methods. Precision is achieved by modeling and correcting biases in the joint measurements as well as inaccuracies in the robot model, such as poor extrinsic camera calibration. We make our method computationally efficient through a principled combination of Kalman filtering of the joint measurements and asynchronous depth-image updates based on the Coordinate Particle Filter. We quantitatively evaluate our approach on a dataset recorded from a real robotic platform, annotated with ground truth from a motion capture system. We show that our approach is robust and accurate even under challenging conditions such as fast motion, significant and long-term occlusions, and time-varying biases. We release the dataset along with open-source code of our approach to allow for quantitative comparison with alternative approaches.

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arXiv video code and dataset video PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Anticipatory Action Selection for Human-Robot Table Tennis

Wang, Z., Boularias, A., Mülling, K., Schölkopf, B., Peters, J.

Artificial Intelligence, 247, pages: 399-414, 2017, Special Issue on AI and Robotics (article)

Abstract
Abstract Anticipation can enhance the capability of a robot in its interaction with humans, where the robot predicts the humans' intention for selecting its own action. We present a novel framework of anticipatory action selection for human-robot interaction, which is capable to handle nonlinear and stochastic human behaviors such as table tennis strokes and allows the robot to choose the optimal action based on prediction of the human partner's intention with uncertainty. The presented framework is generic and can be used in many human-robot interaction scenarios, for example, in navigation and human-robot co-manipulation. In this article, we conduct a case study on human-robot table tennis. Due to the limited amount of time for executing hitting movements, a robot usually needs to initiate its hitting movement before the opponent hits the ball, which requires the robot to be anticipatory based on visual observation of the opponent's movement. Previous work on Intention-Driven Dynamics Models (IDDM) allowed the robot to predict the intended target of the opponent. In this article, we address the problem of action selection and optimal timing for initiating a chosen action by formulating the anticipatory action selection as a Partially Observable Markov Decision Process (POMDP), where the transition and observation are modeled by the \{IDDM\} framework. We present two approaches to anticipatory action selection based on the \{POMDP\} formulation, i.e., a model-free policy learning method based on Least-Squares Policy Iteration (LSPI) that employs the \{IDDM\} for belief updates, and a model-based Monte-Carlo Planning (MCP) method, which benefits from the transition and observation model by the IDDM. Experimental results using real data in a simulated environment show the importance of anticipatory action selection, and that \{POMDPs\} are suitable to formulate the anticipatory action selection problem by taking into account the uncertainties in prediction. We also show that existing algorithms for POMDPs, such as \{LSPI\} and MCP, can be applied to substantially improve the robot's performance in its interaction with humans.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Early Stopping Without a Validation Set
Early Stopping Without a Validation Set

Mahsereci, M., Balles, L., Lassner, C., Hennig, P.

arXiv preprint arXiv:1703.09580, 2017 (article)

Abstract
Early stopping is a widely used technique to prevent poor generalization performance when training an over-expressive model by means of gradient-based optimization. To find a good point to halt the optimizer, a common practice is to split the dataset into a training and a smaller validation set to obtain an ongoing estimate of the generalization performance. In this paper we propose a novel early stopping criterion which is based on fast-to-compute, local statistics of the computed gradients and entirely removes the need for a held-out validation set. Our experiments show that this is a viable approach in the setting of least-squares and logistic regression as well as neural networks.

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link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Data-Driven Physics for Human Soft Tissue Animation
Data-Driven Physics for Human Soft Tissue Animation

Kim, M., Pons-Moll, G., Pujades, S., Bang, S., Kim, J., Black, M. J., Lee, S.

ACM Transactions on Graphics, (Proc. SIGGRAPH), 36(4):54:1-54:12, 2017 (article)

Abstract
Data driven models of human poses and soft-tissue deformations can produce very realistic results, but they only model the visible surface of the human body and cannot create skin deformation due to interactions with the environment. Physical simulations can generalize to external forces, but their parameters are difficult to control. In this paper, we present a layered volumetric human body model learned from data. Our model is composed of a data-driven inner layer and a physics-based external layer. The inner layer is driven with a volumetric statistical body model (VSMPL). The soft tissue layer consists of a tetrahedral mesh that is driven using the finite element method (FEM). Model parameters, namely the segmentation of the body into layers and the soft tissue elasticity, are learned directly from 4D registrations of humans exhibiting soft tissue deformations. The learned two layer model is a realistic full-body avatar that generalizes to novel motions and external forces. Experiments show that the resulting avatars produce realistic results on held out sequences and react to external forces. Moreover, the model supports the retargeting of physical properties from one avatar when they share the same topology.

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video paper link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

video paper link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


Sparse Inertial Poser: Automatic 3D Human Pose Estimation from Sparse IMUs
Sparse Inertial Poser: Automatic 3D Human Pose Estimation from Sparse IMUs

(Best Paper, Eurographics 2017)

Marcard, T. V., Rosenhahn, B., Black, M., Pons-Moll, G.

Computer Graphics Forum 36(2), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the European Association for Computer Graphics (Eurographics), pages: 349-360 , 2017 (article)

Abstract
We address the problem of making human motion capture in the wild more practical by using a small set of inertial sensors attached to the body. Since the problem is heavily under-constrained, previous methods either use a large number of sensors, which is intrusive, or they require additional video input. We take a different approach and constrain the problem by: (i) making use of a realistic statistical body model that includes anthropometric constraints and (ii) using a joint optimization framework to fit the model to orientation and acceleration measurements over multiple frames. The resulting tracker Sparse Inertial Poser (SIP) enables motion capture using only 6 sensors (attached to the wrists, lower legs, back and head) and works for arbitrary human motions. Experiments on the recently released TNT15 dataset show that, using the same number of sensors, SIP achieves higher accuracy than the dataset baseline without using any video data. We further demonstrate the effectiveness of SIP on newly recorded challenging motions in outdoor scenarios such as climbing or jumping over a wall

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video pdf Project Page [BibTex]

video pdf Project Page [BibTex]


Efficient 2D and 3D Facade Segmentation using Auto-Context
Efficient 2D and 3D Facade Segmentation using Auto-Context

Gadde, R., Jampani, V., Marlet, R., Gehler, P.

IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 2017 (article)

Abstract
This paper introduces a fast and efficient segmentation technique for 2D images and 3D point clouds of building facades. Facades of buildings are highly structured and consequently most methods that have been proposed for this problem aim to make use of this strong prior information. Contrary to most prior work, we are describing a system that is almost domain independent and consists of standard segmentation methods. We train a sequence of boosted decision trees using auto-context features. This is learned using stacked generalization. We find that this technique performs better, or comparable with all previous published methods and present empirical results on all available 2D and 3D facade benchmark datasets. The proposed method is simple to implement, easy to extend, and very efficient at test-time inference.

ps

arXiv Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv Project Page [BibTex]


{ClothCap}: Seamless {4D} Clothing Capture and Retargeting
ClothCap: Seamless 4D Clothing Capture and Retargeting

Pons-Moll, G., Pujades, S., Hu, S., Black, M.

ACM Transactions on Graphics, (Proc. SIGGRAPH), 36(4):73:1-73:15, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2017, Two first authors contributed equally (article)

Abstract
Designing and simulating realistic clothing is challenging and, while several methods have addressed the capture of clothing from 3D scans, previous methods have been limited to single garments and simple motions, lack detail, or require specialized texture patterns. Here we address the problem of capturing regular clothing on fully dressed people in motion. People typically wear multiple pieces of clothing at a time. To estimate the shape of such clothing, track it over time, and render it believably, each garment must be segmented from the others and the body. Our ClothCap approach uses a new multi-part 3D model of clothed bodies, automatically segments each piece of clothing, estimates the naked body shape and pose under the clothing, and tracks the 3D deformations of the clothing over time. We estimate the garments and their motion from 4D scans; that is, high-resolution 3D scans of the subject in motion at 60 fps. The model allows us to capture a clothed person in motion, extract their clothing, and retarget the clothing to new body shapes. ClothCap provides a step towards virtual try-on with a technology for capturing, modeling, and analyzing clothing in motion.

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video project_page paper link (url) DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

video project_page paper link (url) DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

2013


Branch\&Rank for Efficient Object Detection
Branch&Rank for Efficient Object Detection

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

International Journal of Computer Vision, Springer, December 2013 (article)

Abstract
Ranking hypothesis sets is a powerful concept for efficient object detection. In this work, we propose a branch&rank scheme that detects objects with often less than 100 ranking operations. This efficiency enables the use of strong and also costly classifiers like non-linear SVMs with RBF-TeX kernels. We thereby relieve an inherent limitation of branch&bound methods as bounds are often not tight enough to be effective in practice. Our approach features three key components: a ranking function that operates on sets of hypotheses and a grouping of these into different tasks. Detection efficiency results from adaptively sub-dividing the object search space into decreasingly smaller sets. This is inherited from branch&bound, while the ranking function supersedes a tight bound which is often unavailable (except for rather limited function classes). The grouping makes the system effective: it separates image classification from object recognition, yet combines them in a single formulation, phrased as a structured SVM problem. A novel aspect of branch&rank is that a better ranking function is expected to decrease the number of classifier calls during detection. We use the VOC’07 dataset to demonstrate the algorithmic properties of branch&rank.

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pdf link (url) [BibTex]

2013


pdf link (url) [BibTex]


Extracting Postural Synergies for Robotic Grasping
Extracting Postural Synergies for Robotic Grasping

Romero, J., Feix, T., Ek, C., Kjellstrom, H., Kragic, D.

Robotics, IEEE Transactions on, 29(6):1342-1352, December 2013 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Markov Random Field Modeling, Inference & Learning in Computer Vision & Image Understanding: A Survey
Markov Random Field Modeling, Inference & Learning in Computer Vision & Image Understanding: A Survey

Wang, C., Komodakis, N., Paragios, N.

Computer Vision and Image Understanding (CVIU), 117(11):1610-1627, November 2013 (article)

Abstract
In this paper, we present a comprehensive survey of Markov Random Fields (MRFs) in computer vision and image understanding, with respect to the modeling, the inference and the learning. While MRFs were introduced into the computer vision field about two decades ago, they started to become a ubiquitous tool for solving visual perception problems around the turn of the millennium following the emergence of efficient inference methods. During the past decade, a variety of MRF models as well as inference and learning methods have been developed for addressing numerous low, mid and high-level vision problems. While most of the literature concerns pairwise MRFs, in recent years we have also witnessed significant progress in higher-order MRFs, which substantially enhances the expressiveness of graph-based models and expands the domain of solvable problems. This survey provides a compact and informative summary of the major literature in this research topic.

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Publishers site pdf [BibTex]

Publishers site pdf [BibTex]


3-D Object Reconstruction of Symmetric Objects by Fusing Visual and Tactile Sensing
3-D Object Reconstruction of Symmetric Objects by Fusing Visual and Tactile Sensing

Illonen, J., Bohg, J., Kyrki, V.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 33(2):321-341, Sage, October 2013 (article)

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

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Web DOI Project Page [BibTex]

Web DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Puppet Flow
Puppet Flow

Zuffi, S., Black, M. J.

(7), Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, October 2013 (techreport)

Abstract
We introduce Puppet Flow (PF), a layered model describing the optical flow of a person in a video sequence. We consider video frames composed by two layers: a foreground layer corresponding to a person, and background. We model the background as an affine flow field. The foreground layer, being a moving person, requires reasoning about the articulated nature of the human body. We thus represent the foreground layer with the Deformable Structures model (DS), a parametrized 2D part-based human body representation. We call the motion field defined through articulated motion and deformation of the DS model, a Puppet Flow. By exploiting the DS representation, Puppet Flow is a parametrized optical flow field, where parameters are the person's pose, gender and body shape.

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pdf Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Vision meets Robotics: The {KITTI} Dataset
Vision meets Robotics: The KITTI Dataset

Geiger, A., Lenz, P., Stiller, C., Urtasun, R.

International Journal of Robotics Research, 32(11):1231 - 1237 , Sage Publishing, September 2013 (article)

Abstract
We present a novel dataset captured from a VW station wagon for use in mobile robotics and autonomous driving research. In total, we recorded 6 hours of traffic scenarios at 10-100 Hz using a variety of sensor modalities such as high-resolution color and grayscale stereo cameras, a Velodyne 3D laser scanner and a high-precision GPS/IMU inertial navigation system. The scenarios are diverse, capturing real-world traffic situations and range from freeways over rural areas to inner-city scenes with many static and dynamic objects. Our data is calibrated, synchronized and timestamped, and we provide the rectified and raw image sequences. Our dataset also contains object labels in the form of 3D tracklets and we provide online benchmarks for stereo, optical flow, object detection and other tasks. This paper describes our recording platform, the data format and the utilities that we provide.

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pdf DOI [BibTex]

pdf DOI [BibTex]


Human Pose Calculation from Optical Flow Data
Human Pose Calculation from Optical Flow Data

Black, M., Loper, M., Romero, J., Zuffi, S.

European Patent Application EP 2843621 , August 2013 (patent)

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Google Patents [BibTex]

Google Patents [BibTex]


Learning and Optimization with Submodular Functions
Learning and Optimization with Submodular Functions

Sankaran, B., Ghazvininejad, M., He, X., Kale, D., Cohen, L.

ArXiv, May 2013 (techreport)

Abstract
In many naturally occurring optimization problems one needs to ensure that the definition of the optimization problem lends itself to solutions that are tractable to compute. In cases where exact solutions cannot be computed tractably, it is beneficial to have strong guarantees on the tractable approximate solutions. In order operate under these criterion most optimization problems are cast under the umbrella of convexity or submodularity. In this report we will study design and optimization over a common class of functions called submodular functions. Set functions, and specifically submodular set functions, characterize a wide variety of naturally occurring optimization problems, and the property of submodularity of set functions has deep theoretical consequences with wide ranging applications. Informally, the property of submodularity of set functions concerns the intuitive principle of diminishing returns. This property states that adding an element to a smaller set has more value than adding it to a larger set. Common examples of submodular monotone functions are entropies, concave functions of cardinality, and matroid rank functions; non-monotone examples include graph cuts, network flows, and mutual information. In this paper we will review the formal definition of submodularity; the optimization of submodular functions, both maximization and minimization; and finally discuss some applications in relation to learning and reasoning using submodular functions.

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arxiv link (url) [BibTex]

arxiv link (url) [BibTex]


Unscented Kalman Filtering on Riemannian Manifolds
Unscented Kalman Filtering on Riemannian Manifolds

Soren Hauberg, Francois Lauze, Kim S. Pedersen

Journal of Mathematical Imaging and Vision, 46(1):103-120, Springer Netherlands, May 2013 (article)

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Publishers site PDF [BibTex]

Publishers site PDF [BibTex]


Quasi-Newton Methods: A New Direction
Quasi-Newton Methods: A New Direction

Hennig, P., Kiefel, M.

Journal of Machine Learning Research, 14(1):843-865, March 2013 (article)

Abstract
Four decades after their invention, quasi-Newton methods are still state of the art in unconstrained numerical optimization. Although not usually interpreted thus, these are learning algorithms that fit a local quadratic approximation to the objective function. We show that many, including the most popular, quasi-Newton methods can be interpreted as approximations of Bayesian linear regression under varying prior assumptions. This new notion elucidates some shortcomings of classical algorithms, and lights the way to a novel nonparametric quasi-Newton method, which is able to make more efficient use of available information at computational cost similar to its predecessors.

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website+code pdf link (url) [BibTex]

website+code pdf link (url) [BibTex]


A Quantitative Analysis of Current Practices in Optical Flow Estimation and the Principles Behind Them
A Quantitative Analysis of Current Practices in Optical Flow Estimation and the Principles Behind Them

Sun, D., Roth, S., Black, M. J.

(CS-10-03), Brown University, Department of Computer Science, January 2013 (techreport)

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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Optimal control of reaching includes kinematic constraints

Mistry, M., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S., Kawato, M.

Journal of Neurophysiology, 2013, clmc (article)

Abstract
We investigate adaptation under a reaching task with an acceleration-based force field perturbation designed to alter the nominal straight hand trajectory in a potentially benign manner:pushing the hand of course in one direction before subsequently restoring towards the target. In this particular task, an explicit strategy to reduce motor effort requires a distinct deviation from the nominal rectilinear hand trajectory. Rather, our results display a clear directional preference during learning, as subjects adapted perturbed curved trajectories towards their initial baselines. We model this behavior using the framework of stochastic optimal control theory and an objective function that trades-of the discordant requirements of 1) target accuracy, 2) motor effort, and 3) desired trajectory. Our work addresses the underlying objective of a reaching movement, and we suggest that robustness, particularly against internal model uncertainly, is as essential to the reaching task as terminal accuracy and energy effciency.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Dynamical Movement Primitives: Learning Attractor Models for Motor Behaviors

Ijspeert, A., Nakanishi, J., Pastor, P., Hoffmann, H., Schaal, S.

Neural Computation, (25):328-373, 2013, clmc (article)

Abstract
Nonlinear dynamical systems have been used in many disciplines to model complex behaviors, including biological motor control, robotics, perception, economics, traffic prediction, and neuroscience. While often the unexpected emergent behavior of nonlinear systems is the focus of investigations, it is of equal importance to create goal-directed behavior (e.g., stable locomotion from a system of coupled oscillators under perceptual guidance). Modeling goal-directed behavior with nonlinear systems is, however, rather difficult due to the parameter sensitivity of these systems, their complex phase transitions in response to subtle parameter changes, and the difficulty of analyzing and predicting their long-term behavior; intuition and time-consuming parameter tuning play a major role. This letter presents and reviews dynamical movement primitives, a line of research for modeling attractor behaviors of autonomous nonlinear dynamical systems with the help of statistical learning techniques. The essence of our approach is to start with a simple dynamical system, such as a set of linear differential equations, and transform those into a weakly nonlinear system with prescribed attractor dynamics by meansof a learnable autonomous forcing term. Both point attractors and limit cycle attractors of almost arbitrary complexity can be generated. We explain the design principle of our approach and evaluate its properties in several example applications in motor control and robotics.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


Random Forests for Real Time {3D} Face Analysis
Random Forests for Real Time 3D Face Analysis

Fanelli, G., Dantone, M., Gall, J., Fossati, A., van Gool, L.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 101(3):437-458, Springer, 2013 (article)

Abstract
We present a random forest-based framework for real time head pose estimation from depth images and extend it to localize a set of facial features in 3D. Our algorithm takes a voting approach, where each patch extracted from the depth image can directly cast a vote for the head pose or each of the facial features. Our system proves capable of handling large rotations, partial occlusions, and the noisy depth data acquired using commercial sensors. Moreover, the algorithm works on each frame independently and achieves real time performance without resorting to parallel computations on a GPU. We present extensive experiments on publicly available, challenging datasets and present a new annotated head pose database recorded using a Microsoft Kinect.

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data and code publisher's site pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

data and code publisher's site pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Markerless Motion Capture of Multiple Characters Using Multi-view Image Segmentation
Markerless Motion Capture of Multiple Characters Using Multi-view Image Segmentation

Liu, Y., Gall, J., Stoll, C., Dai, Q., Seidel, H., Theobalt, C.

Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 35(11):2720-2735, 2013 (article)

Abstract
Capturing the skeleton motion and detailed time-varying surface geometry of multiple, closely interacting peoples is a very challenging task, even in a multicamera setup, due to frequent occlusions and ambiguities in feature-to-person assignments. To address this task, we propose a framework that exploits multiview image segmentation. To this end, a probabilistic shape and appearance model is employed to segment the input images and to assign each pixel uniquely to one person. Given the articulated template models of each person and the labeled pixels, a combined optimization scheme, which splits the skeleton pose optimization problem into a local one and a lower dimensional global one, is applied one by one to each individual, followed with surface estimation to capture detailed nonrigid deformations. We show on various sequences that our approach can capture the 3D motion of humans accurately even if they move rapidly, if they wear wide apparel, and if they are engaged in challenging multiperson motions, including dancing, wrestling, and hugging.

ps

data and video pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

data and video pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Viewpoint and pose in body-form adaptation
Viewpoint and pose in body-form adaptation

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

Perception, 42(2):176-186, 2013 (article)

Abstract
Faces and bodies are complex structures, perception of which can play important roles in person identification and inference of emotional state. Face representations have been explored using behavioural adaptation: in particular, studies have shown that face aftereffects show relatively broad tuning for viewpoint, consistent with origin in a high-level structural descriptor far removed from the retinal image. Our goals were to determine first, if body aftereffects also showed a degree of viewpoint invariance, and second if they also showed pose invariance, given that changes in pose create even more dramatic changes in the 2-D retinal image. We used a 3-D model of the human body to generate headless body images, whose parameters could be varied to generate different body forms, viewpoints, and poses. In the first experiment, subjects adapted to varying viewpoints of either slim or heavy bodies in a neutral stance, followed by test stimuli that were all front-facing. In the second experiment, we used the same front-facing bodies in neutral stance as test stimuli, but compared adaptation from bodies in the same neutral stance to adaptation with the same bodies in different poses. We found that body aftereffects were obtained over substantial viewpoint changes, with no significant decline in aftereffect magnitude with increasing viewpoint difference between adapting and test images. Aftereffects also showed transfer across one change in pose but not across another. We conclude that body representations may have more viewpoint invariance than faces, and demonstrate at least some transfer across pose, consistent with a high-level structural description. Keywords: aftereffect, shape, face, representation

ps

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

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


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Optimal distribution of contact forces with inverse-dynamics control

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

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 32(3):280-298, March 2013 (article)

Abstract
The development of legged robots for complex environments requires controllers that guarantee both high tracking performance and compliance with the environment. More specifically the control of the contact interaction with the environment is of crucial importance to ensure stable, robust and safe motions. In this contribution we develop an inverse-dynamics controller for floating-base robots under contact constraints that can minimize any combination of linear and quadratic costs in the contact constraints and the commands. Our main result is the exact analytical derivation of the controller. Such a result is particularly relevant for legged robots as it allows us to use torque redundancy to directly optimize contact interactions. For example, given a desired locomotion behavior, we can guarantee the minimization of contact forces to reduce slipping on difficult terrains while ensuring high tracking performance of the desired motion. The main advantages of the controller are its simplicity, computational efficiency and robustness to model inaccuracies. We present detailed experimental results on simulated humanoid and quadruped robots as well as a real quadruped robot. The experiments demonstrate that the controller can greatly improve the robustness of locomotion of the robots.1

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Non-parametric hand pose estimation with object context
Non-parametric hand pose estimation with object context

Romero, J., Kjellström, H., Ek, C. H., Kragic, D.

Image and Vision Computing , 31(8):555 - 564, 2013 (article)

Abstract
In the spirit of recent work on contextual recognition and estimation, we present a method for estimating the pose of human hands, employing information about the shape of the object in the hand. Despite the fact that most applications of human hand tracking involve grasping and manipulation of objects, the majority of methods in the literature assume a free hand, isolated from the surrounding environment. Occlusion of the hand from grasped objects does in fact often pose a severe challenge to the estimation of hand pose. In the presented method, object occlusion is not only compensated for, it contributes to the pose estimation in a contextual fashion; this without an explicit model of object shape. Our hand tracking method is non-parametric, performing a nearest neighbor search in a large database (.. entries) of hand poses with and without grasped objects. The system that operates in real time, is robust to self occlusions, object occlusions and segmentation errors, and provides full hand pose reconstruction from monocular video. Temporal consistency in hand pose is taken into account, without explicitly tracking the hand in the high-dim pose space. Experiments show the non-parametric method to outperform other state of the art regression methods, while operating at a significantly lower computational cost than comparable model-based hand tracking methods.

ps

Publisher site pdf link (url) [BibTex]

Publisher site pdf link (url) [BibTex]

2009


Valero-Cuevas, F., Hoffmann, H., Kurse, M. U., Kutch, J. J., Theodorou, E. A.

IEEE Reviews in Biomedical Engineering – (All authors have equally contributed), (2):110?135, 2009, clmc (article)

Abstract
Computational models of the neuromuscular system hold the potential to allow us to reach a deeper understanding of neuromuscular function and clinical rehabilitation by complementing experimentation. By serving as a means to distill and explore specific hypotheses, computational models emerge from prior experimental data and motivate future experimental work. Here we review computational tools used to understand neuromuscular function including musculoskeletal modeling, machine learning, control theory, and statistical model analysis. We conclude that these tools, when used in combination, have the potential to further our understanding of neuromuscular function by serving as a rigorous means to test scientific hypotheses in ways that complement and leverage experimental data.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

2009


link (url) [BibTex]


no image
On-line learning and modulation of periodic movements with nonlinear dynamical systems

Gams, A., Ijspeert, A., Schaal, S., Lenarčič, J.

Autonomous Robots, 27(1):3-23, 2009, clmc (article)

Abstract
Abstract  The paper presents a two-layered system for (1) learning and encoding a periodic signal without any knowledge on its frequency and waveform, and (2) modulating the learned periodic trajectory in response to external events. The system is used to learn periodic tasks on a humanoid HOAP-2 robot. The first layer of the system is a dynamical system responsible for extracting the fundamental frequency of the input signal, based on adaptive frequency oscillators. The second layer is a dynamical system responsible for learning of the waveform based on a built-in learning algorithm. By combining the two dynamical systems into one system we can rapidly teach new trajectories to robots without any knowledge of the frequency of the demonstration signal. The system extracts and learns only one period of the demonstration signal. Furthermore, the trajectories are robust to perturbations and can be modulated to cope with a dynamic environment. The system is computationally inexpensive, works on-line for any periodic signal, requires no additional signal processing to determine the frequency of the input signal and can be applied in parallel to multiple dimensions. Additionally, it can adapt to changes in frequency and shape, e.g. to non-stationary signals, such as hand-generated signals and human demonstrations.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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The SL simulation and real-time control software package

Schaal, S.

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 2009, clmc (techreport)

Abstract
SL was originally developed as a Simulation Laboratory software package to allow creating complex rigid-body dynamics simulations with minimal development times. It was meant to complement a real-time robotics setup such that robot programs could first be debugged in simulation before trying them on the actual robot. For this purpose, the motor control setup of SL was copied from our experience with real-time robot setups with vxWorks (Windriver Systems, Inc.)Ñindeed, more than 90% of the code is identical to the actual robot software, as will be explained later in detail. As a result, SL is divided into three software components: 1) the generic code that is shared by the actual robot and the simulation, 2) the robot specific code, and 3) the simulation specific code. The robot specific code is tailored to the robotic environments that we have experienced over the years, in particular towards VME-based multi-processor real-time operating systems. The simulation specific code has all the components for OpenGL graphics simulations and mimics the robot multi-processor environment in simple C-code. Importantly, SL can be used stand-alone for creating graphics an-imationsÑthe heritage from real-time robotics does not restrict the complexity of possible simulations. This technical report describes SL in detail and can serve as a manual for new users of SL.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Local dimensionality reduction for non-parametric regression

Hoffman, H., Schaal, S., Vijayakumar, S.

Neural Processing Letters, 2009, clmc (article)

Abstract
Locally-weighted regression is a computationally-efficient technique for non-linear regression. However, for high-dimensional data, this technique becomes numerically brittle and computationally too expensive if many local models need to be maintained simultaneously. Thus, local linear dimensionality reduction combined with locally-weighted regression seems to be a promising solution. In this context, we review linear dimensionality-reduction methods, compare their performance on nonparametric locally-linear regression, and discuss their ability to extend to incremental learning. The considered methods belong to the following three groups: (1) reducing dimensionality only on the input data, (2) modeling the joint input-output data distribution, and (3) optimizing the correlation between projection directions and output data. Group 1 contains principal component regression (PCR); group 2 contains principal component analysis (PCA) in joint input and output space, factor analysis, and probabilistic PCA; and group 3 contains reduced rank regression (RRR) and partial least squares (PLS) regression. Among the tested methods, only group 3 managed to achieve robust performance even for a non-optimal number of components (factors or projection directions). In contrast, group 1 and 2 failed for fewer components since these methods rely on the correct estimate of the true intrinsic dimensionality. In group 3, PLS is the only method for which a computationally-efficient incremental implementation exists. Thus, PLS appears to be ideally suited as a building block for a locally-weighted regressor in which projection directions are incrementally added on the fly.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


no image
The SL simulation and real-time control software package

Schaal, S.

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 2009, clmc (techreport)

Abstract
SL was originally developed as a Simulation Laboratory software package to allow creating complex rigid-body dynamics simulations with minimal development times. It was meant to complement a real-time robotics setup such that robot programs could first be debugged in simulation before trying them on the actual robot. For this purpose, the motor control setup of SL was copied from our experience with real-time robot setups with vxWorks (Windriver Systems, Inc.)â??indeed, more than 90% of the code is identical to the actual robot software, as will be explained later in detail. As a result, SL is divided into three software components: 1) the generic code that is shared by the actual robot and the simulation, 2) the robot specific code, and 3) the simulation specific code. The robot specific code is tailored to the robotic environments that we have experienced over the years, in particular towards VME-based multi-processor real-time operating systems. The simulation specific code has all the components for OpenGL graphics simulations and mimics the robot multi-processor environment in simple C-code. Importantly, SL can be used stand-alone for creating graphics an-imationsâ??the heritage from real-time robotics does not restrict the complexity of possible simulations. This technical report describes SL in detail and can serve as a manual for new users of SL.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


no image
Incorporating Muscle Activation-Contraction dynamics to an optimal control framework for finger movements

Theodorou, Evangelos A., Valero-Cuevas, Francisco J.

Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2009), 2009, clmc (article)

Abstract
Recent experimental and theoretical work [1] investigated the neural control of contact transition between motion and force during tapping with the index finger as a nonlinear optimization problem. Such transitions from motion to well-directed contact force are a fundamental part of dexterous manipulation. There are 3 alternative hypotheses of how this transition could be accomplished by the nervous system as a function of changes in direction and magnitude of the torque vector controlling the finger. These hypotheses are 1) an initial change in direction with a subsequent change in magnitude of the torque vector; 2) an initial change in magnitude with a subsequent directional change of the torque vector; and 3) a simultaneous and proportionally equal change of both direction and magnitude of the torque vector. Experimental work in [2] shows that the nervous system selects the first strategy, and in [1] we suggest that this may in fact be the optimal strategy. In [4] the framework of Iterative Linear Quadratic Optimal Regulator (ILQR) was extended to incorporate motion and force control. However, our prior simulation work assumed direct and instantaneous control of joint torques, which ignores the known delays and filtering properties of skeletal muscle. In this study, we implement an ILQR controller for a more biologically plausible biomechanical model of the index finger than [4], and add activation-contraction dynamics to the system to simulate muscle function. The planar biomechanical model includes the kinematics of the 3 joints while the applied torques are driven by activation?contraction dynamics with biologically plausible time constants [3]. In agreement with our experimental work [2], the task is to, within 500 ms, move the finger from a given resting configuration to target configuration with a desired terminal velocity. ILQR does not only stabilize the finger dynamics according to the objective function, but it also generates smooth joint space trajectories with minimal tuning and without an a-priori initial control policy (which is difficult to find for highly dimensional biomechanical systems). Furthemore, the use of this optimal control framework and the addition of activation-contraction dynamics considers the full nonlinear dynamics of the index finger and produces a sequence of postures which are compatible with experimental motion data [2]. These simulations combined with prior experimental results suggest that optimal control is a strong candidate for the generation of finger movements prior to abrupt motion-to-force transitions. This work is funded in part by grants NIH R01 0505520 and NSF EFRI-0836042 to Dr. Francisco J. Valero- Cuevas 1 Venkadesan M, Valero-Cuevas FJ. 
Effects of neuromuscular lags on controlling contact transitions. 
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: 2008. 2 Venkadesan M, Valero-Cuevas FJ. 
Neural Control of Motion-to-Force Transitions with the Fingertip. 
J. Neurosci., Feb 2008; 28: 1366 - 1373; 3 Zajac. Muscle and tendon: properties, models, scaling, and application to biomechanics and motor control. Crit Rev Biomed Eng, 17 4. Weiwei Li., Francisco Valero Cuevas: ?Linear Quadratic Optimal Control of Contact Transition with Fingertip ? ACC 2009

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


no image
On-line learning and modulation of periodic movements with nonlinear dynamical systems

Gams, A., Ijspeert, A., Schaal, S., Lenarčič, J.

Autonomous Robots, 27(1):3-23, 2009, clmc (article)

Abstract
Abstract  The paper presents a two-layered system for (1) learning and encoding a periodic signal without any knowledge on its frequency and waveform, and (2) modulating the learned periodic trajectory in response to external events. The system is used to learn periodic tasks on a humanoid HOAP-2 robot. The first layer of the system is a dynamical system responsible for extracting the fundamental frequency of the input signal, based on adaptive frequency oscillators. The second layer is a dynamical system responsible for learning of the waveform based on a built-in learning algorithm. By combining the two dynamical systems into one system we can rapidly teach new trajectories to robots without any knowledge of the frequency of the demonstration signal. The system extracts and learns only one period of the demonstration signal. Furthermore, the trajectories are robust to perturbations and can be modulated to cope with a dynamic environment. The system is computationally inexpensive, works on-line for any periodic signal, requires no additional signal processing to determine the frequency of the input signal and can be applied in parallel to multiple dimensions. Additionally, it can adapt to changes in frequency and shape, e.g. to non-stationary signals, such as hand-generated signals and human demonstrations.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]

1994


no image
Robot juggling: An implementation of memory-based learning

Schaal, S., Atkeson, C. G.

Control Systems Magazine, 14(1):57-71, 1994, clmc (article)

Abstract
This paper explores issues involved in implementing robot learning for a challenging dynamic task, using a case study from robot juggling. We use a memory-based local modeling approach (locally weighted regression) to represent a learned model of the task to be performed. Statistical tests are given to examine the uncertainty of a model, to optimize its prediction quality, and to deal with noisy and corrupted data. We develop an exploration algorithm that explicitly deals with prediction accuracy requirements during exploration. Using all these ingredients in combination with methods from optimal control, our robot achieves fast real-time learning of the task within 40 to 100 trials.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

1994


link (url) [BibTex]