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2017


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The Numerics of GANs

Mescheder, L., Nowozin, S., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings from the conference "Neural Information Processing Systems 2017., (Editors: Guyon I. and Luxburg U.v. and Bengio S. and Wallach H. and Fergus R. and Vishwanathan S. and Garnett R.), Curran Associates, Inc., Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 30 (NIPS), December 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we analyze the numerics of common algorithms for training Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). Using the formalism of smooth two-player games we analyze the associated gradient vector field of GAN training objectives. Our findings suggest that the convergence of current algorithms suffers due to two factors: i) presence of eigenvalues of the Jacobian of the gradient vector field with zero real-part, and ii) eigenvalues with big imaginary part. Using these findings, we design a new algorithm that overcomes some of these limitations and has better convergence properties. Experimentally, we demonstrate its superiority on training common GAN architectures and show convergence on GAN architectures that are known to be notoriously hard to train.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

2017


pdf Project Page [BibTex]


Thumb xl amd intentiongan
Multi-Modal Imitation Learning from Unstructured Demonstrations using Generative Adversarial Nets

Hausman, K., Chebotar, Y., Schaal, S., Sukhatme, G., Lim, J.

In Proceedings from the conference "Neural Information Processing Systems 2017., (Editors: Guyon I. and Luxburg U.v. and Bengio S. and Wallach H. and Fergus R. and Vishwanathan S. and Garnett R.), Curran Associates, Inc., Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 30 (NIPS), December 2017 (inproceedings)

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pdf video [BibTex]

pdf video [BibTex]


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Active colloidal propulsion over a crystalline surface

Choudhury, U., Straube, A., Fischer, P., Gibbs, J., Höfling, F.

New Journal of Physics, 19, pages: 125010, December 2017 (article)

Abstract
We study both experimentally and theoretically the dynamics of chemically self-propelled Janus colloids moving atop a two-dimensional crystalline surface. The surface is a hexagonally close-packed monolayer of colloidal particles of the same size as the mobile one. The dynamics of the self-propelled colloid reflects the competition between hindered diffusion due to the periodic surface and enhanced diffusion due to active motion. Which contribution dominates depends on the propulsion strength, which can be systematically tuned by changing the concentration of a chemical fuel. The mean-square displacements obtained from the experiment exhibit enhanced diffusion at long lag times. Our experimental data are consistent with a Langevin model for the effectively two-dimensional translational motion of an active Brownian particle in a periodic potential, combining the confining effects of gravity and the crystalline surface with the free rotational diffusion of the colloid. Approximate analytical predictions are made for the mean-square displacement describing the crossover from free Brownian motion at short times to active diffusion at long times. The results are in semi-quantitative agreement with numerical results of a refined Langevin model that treats translational and rotational degrees of freedom on the same footing.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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On the Design of LQR Kernels for Efficient Controller Learning

Marco, A., Hennig, P., Schaal, S., Trimpe, S.

Proceedings of the 56th IEEE Annual Conference on Decision and Control (CDC), pages: 5193-5200, IEEE, IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, December 2017 (conference)

Abstract
Finding optimal feedback controllers for nonlinear dynamic systems from data is hard. Recently, Bayesian optimization (BO) has been proposed as a powerful framework for direct controller tuning from experimental trials. For selecting the next query point and finding the global optimum, BO relies on a probabilistic description of the latent objective function, typically a Gaussian process (GP). As is shown herein, GPs with a common kernel choice can, however, lead to poor learning outcomes on standard quadratic control problems. For a first-order system, we construct two kernels that specifically leverage the structure of the well-known Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR), yet retain the flexibility of Bayesian nonparametric learning. Simulations of uncertain linear and nonlinear systems demonstrate that the LQR kernels yield superior learning performance.

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arXiv PDF On the Design of LQR Kernels for Efficient Controller Learning - CDC presentation DOI Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv PDF On the Design of LQR Kernels for Efficient Controller Learning - CDC presentation DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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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]

arXiv DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Wireless Acoustic-Surface Actuators for Miniaturized Endoscopes

Qiu, T., Adams, F., Palagi, S., Melde, K., Mark, A. G., Wetterauer, U., Miernik, A., Fischer, P.

ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 9(49):42536 - 42543, November 2017 (article)

Abstract
Endoscopy enables minimally invasive procedures in many medical fields, such as urology. However, current endoscopes are normally cable-driven, which limits their dexterity and makes them hard to miniaturize. Indeed current urological endoscopes have an outer diameter of about 3 mm and still only possess one bending degree of freedom. In this paper, we report a novel wireless actuation mechanism that increases the dexterity and that permits the miniaturization of a urological endoscope. The novel actuator consists of thin active surfaces that can be readily attached to any device and are wirelessly powered by ultrasound. The surfaces consist of two-dimensional arrays of micro-bubbles, which oscillate under ultrasound excitation and thereby generate an acoustic streaming force. Bubbles of different sizes are addressed by their unique resonance frequency, thus multiple degrees of freedom can readily be incorporated. Two active miniaturized devices (with a side length of around 1 mm) are demonstrated: a miniaturized mechanical arm that realizes two degrees of freedom, and a flexible endoscope prototype equipped with a camera at the tip. With the flexible endoscope, an active endoscopic examination is successfully performed in a rabbit bladder. This results show the potential medical applicability of surface actuators wirelessly powered by ultrasound penetrating through biological tissues.

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link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Optimizing Long-term Predictions for Model-based Policy Search

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

Proceedings of 1st Annual Conference on Robot Learning (CoRL), 78, pages: 227-238, (Editors: Sergey Levine and Vincent Vanhoucke and Ken Goldberg), 1st Annual Conference on Robot Learning, November 2017 (conference)

Abstract
We propose a novel long-term optimization criterion to improve the robustness of model-based reinforcement learning in real-world scenarios. Learning a dynamics model to derive a solution promises much greater data-efficiency and reusability compared to model-free alternatives. In practice, however, modelbased RL suffers from various imperfections such as noisy input and output data, delays and unmeasured (latent) states. To achieve higher resilience against such effects, we propose to optimize a generative long-term prediction model directly with respect to the likelihood of observed trajectories as opposed to the common approach of optimizing a dynamics model for one-step-ahead predictions. We evaluate the proposed method on several artificial and real-world benchmark problems and compare it to PILCO, a model-based RL framework, in experiments on a manipulation robot. The results show that the proposed method is competitive compared to state-of-the-art model learning methods. In contrast to these more involved models, our model can directly be employed for policy search and outperforms a baseline method in the robot experiment.

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PDF Project Page [BibTex]

PDF Project Page [BibTex]


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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]


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Learning optimal gait parameters and impedance profiles for legged locomotion

Heijmink, E., Radulescu, A., Ponton, B., Barasuol, V., Caldwell, D., Semini, C.

Proceedings International Conference on Humanoid Robots, IEEE, 2017 IEEE-RAS 17th International Conference on Humanoid Robots, November 2017 (conference)

Abstract
The successful execution of complex modern robotic tasks often relies on the correct tuning of a large number of parameters. In this paper we present a methodology for improving the performance of a trotting gait by learning the gait parameters, impedance profile and the gains of the control architecture. We show results on a set of terrains, for various speeds using a realistic simulation of a hydraulically actuated system. Our method achieves a reduction in the gait's mechanical energy consumption during locomotion of up to 26%. The simulation results are validated in experimental trials on the hardware system.

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paper [BibTex]

paper [BibTex]


Thumb xl teaser iccv2017
Bounding Boxes, Segmentations and Object Coordinates: How Important is Recognition for 3D Scene Flow Estimation in Autonomous Driving Scenarios?

Behl, A., Jafari, O. H., Mustikovela, S. K., Alhaija, H. A., Rother, C., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), October 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Existing methods for 3D scene flow estimation often fail in the presence of large displacement or local ambiguities, e.g., at texture-less or reflective surfaces. However, these challenges are omnipresent in dynamic road scenes, which is the focus of this work. Our main contribution is to overcome these 3D motion estimation problems by exploiting recognition. In particular, we investigate the importance of recognition granularity, from coarse 2D bounding box estimates over 2D instance segmentations to fine-grained 3D object part predictions. We compute these cues using CNNs trained on a newly annotated dataset of stereo images and integrate them into a CRF-based model for robust 3D scene flow estimation - an approach we term Instance Scene Flow. We analyze the importance of each recognition cue in an ablation study and observe that the instance segmentation cue is by far strongest, in our setting. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on the challenging KITTI 2015 scene flow benchmark where we achieve state-of-the-art performance at the time of submission.

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pdf suppmat Poster Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Poster Project Page [BibTex]


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Sparsity Invariant CNNs

Uhrig, J., Schneider, N., Schneider, L., Franke, U., Brox, T., Geiger, A.

International Conference on 3D Vision (3DV) 2017, International Conference on 3D Vision (3DV), October 2017 (conference)

Abstract
In this paper, we consider convolutional neural networks operating on sparse inputs with an application to depth upsampling from sparse laser scan data. First, we show that traditional convolutional networks perform poorly when applied to sparse data even when the location of missing data is provided to the network. To overcome this problem, we propose a simple yet effective sparse convolution layer which explicitly considers the location of missing data during the convolution operation. We demonstrate the benefits of the proposed network architecture in synthetic and real experiments \wrt various baseline approaches. Compared to dense baselines, the proposed sparse convolution network generalizes well to novel datasets and is invariant to the level of sparsity in the data. For our evaluation, we derive a novel dataset from the KITTI benchmark, comprising 93k depth annotated RGB images. Our dataset allows for training and evaluating depth upsampling and depth prediction techniques in challenging real-world settings.

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pdf suppmat Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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OctNetFusion: Learning Depth Fusion from Data

Riegler, G., Ulusoy, A. O., Bischof, H., Geiger, A.

International Conference on 3D Vision (3DV) 2017, International Conference on 3D Vision (3DV), October 2017 (conference)

Abstract
In this paper, we present a learning based approach to depth fusion, i.e., dense 3D reconstruction from multiple depth images. The most common approach to depth fusion is based on averaging truncated signed distance functions, which was originally proposed by Curless and Levoy in 1996. While this method is simple and provides great results, it is not able to reconstruct (partially) occluded surfaces and requires a large number frames to filter out sensor noise and outliers. Motivated by the availability of large 3D model repositories and recent advances in deep learning, we present a novel 3D CNN architecture that learns to predict an implicit surface representation from the input depth maps. Our learning based method significantly outperforms the traditional volumetric fusion approach in terms of noise reduction and outlier suppression. By learning the structure of real world 3D objects and scenes, our approach is further able to reconstruct occluded regions and to fill in gaps in the reconstruction. We demonstrate that our learning based approach outperforms both vanilla TSDF fusion as well as TV-L1 fusion on the task of volumetric fusion. Further, we demonstrate state-of-the-art 3D shape completion results.

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pdf Video 1 Video 2 Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Video 1 Video 2 Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Active Acoustic Surfaces Enable the Propulsion of a Wireless Robot

Qiu, T., Palagi, S., Mark, A. G., Melde, K., Adams, F., Fischer, P.

Advanced Materials Interfaces, 4(21):1700933, September 2017 (article)

Abstract
A major challenge that prevents the miniaturization of mechanically actuated systems is the lack of suitable methods that permit the efficient transfer of power to small scales. Acoustic energy holds great potential, as it is wireless, penetrates deep into biological tissues, and the mechanical vibrations can be directly converted into directional forces. Recently, active acoustic surfaces are developed that consist of 2D arrays of microcavities holding microbubbles that can be excited with an external acoustic field. At resonance, the surfaces give rise to acoustic streaming and thus provide a highly directional propulsive force. Here, this study advances these wireless surface actuators by studying their force output as the size of the bubble-array is increased. In particular, a general method is reported to dramatically improve the propulsive force, demonstrating that the surface actuators are actually able to propel centimeter-scale devices. To prove the flexibility of the functional surfaces as wireless ready-to-attach actuator, a mobile mini-robot capable of propulsion in water along multiple directions is presented. This work paves the way toward effectively exploiting acoustic surfaces as a novel wireless actuation scheme at small scales.

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link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Thumb xl andreas teaser
Direct Visual Odometry for a Fisheye-Stereo Camera

Liu, P., Heng, L., Sattler, T., Geiger, A., Pollefeys, M.

In Proceedings IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), September 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present a direct visual odometry algorithm for a fisheye-stereo camera. Our algorithm performs simultaneous camera motion estimation and semi-dense reconstruction. The pipeline consists of two threads: a tracking thread and a mapping thread. In the tracking thread, we estimate the camera pose via semi-dense direct image alignment. To have a wider field of view (FoV) which is important for robotic perception, we use fisheye images directly without converting them to conventional pinhole images which come with a limited FoV. To address the epipolar curve problem, plane-sweeping stereo is used for stereo matching and depth initialization. Multiple depth hypotheses are tracked for selected pixels to better capture the uncertainty characteristics of stereo matching. Temporal motion stereo is then used to refine the depth and remove false positive depth hypotheses. Our implementation runs at an average of 20 Hz on a low-end PC. We run experiments in outdoor environments to validate our algorithm, and discuss the experimental results. We experimentally show that we are able to estimate 6D poses with low drift, and at the same time, do semi-dense 3D reconstruction with high accuracy.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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A New Data Source for Inverse Dynamics Learning

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

In Proceedings IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), September 2017 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Bayesian Regression for Artifact Correction in Electroencephalography

Fiebig, K., Jayaram, V., Hesse, T., Blank, A., Peters, J., Grosse-Wentrup, M.

Proceedings of the 7th Graz Brain-Computer Interface Conference 2017 - From Vision to Reality, pages: 131-136, (Editors: Müller-Putz G.R., Steyrl D., Wriessnegger S. C., Scherer R.), Graz University of Technology, Austria, Graz Brain-Computer Interface Conference, September 2017 (conference)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Investigating Music Imagery as a Cognitive Paradigm for Low-Cost Brain-Computer Interfaces

Grossberger, L., Hohmann, M. R., Peters, J., Grosse-Wentrup, M.

Proceedings of the 7th Graz Brain-Computer Interface Conference 2017 - From Vision to Reality, pages: 160-164, (Editors: Müller-Putz G.R., Steyrl D., Wriessnegger S. C., Scherer R.), Graz University of Technology, Austria, Graz Brain-Computer Interface Conference, September 2017 (conference)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Thumb xl jeong et al 2017 advanced science
Corrosion-Protected Hybrid Nanoparticles

Jeong, H. H., Alarcon-Correa, M., Mark, A. G., Son, K., Lee, T., Fischer, P.

Advanced Science, 4(12):1700234, September 2017 (article)

Abstract
Nanoparticles composed of functional materials hold great promise for applications due to their unique electronic, optical, magnetic, and catalytic properties. However, a number of functional materials are not only difficult to fabricate at the nanoscale, but are also chemically unstable in solution. Hence, protecting nanoparticles from corrosion is a major challenge for those applications that require stability in aqueous solutions and biological fluids. Here, this study presents a generic scheme to grow hybrid 3D nanoparticles that are completely encapsulated by a nm thick protective shell. The method consists of vacuum-based growth and protection, and combines oblique physical vapor deposition with atomic layer deposition. It provides wide flexibility in the shape and composition of the nanoparticles, and the environments against which particles are protected. The work demonstrates the approach with multifunctional nanoparticles possessing ferromagnetic, plasmonic, and chiral properties. The present scheme allows nanocolloids, which immediately corrode without protection, to remain functional, at least for a week, in acidic solutions.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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On the relevance of grasp metrics for predicting grasp success

Rubert, C., Kappler, D., Morales, A., Schaal, S., Bohg, J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference of Intelligent Robots and Systems, September 2017 (inproceedings) Accepted

Abstract
We aim to reliably predict whether a grasp on a known object is successful before it is executed in the real world. There is an entire suite of grasp metrics that has already been developed which rely on precisely known contact points between object and hand. However, it remains unclear whether and how they may be combined into a general purpose grasp stability predictor. In this paper, we analyze these questions by leveraging a large scale database of simulated grasps on a wide variety of objects. For each grasp, we compute the value of seven metrics. Each grasp is annotated by human subjects with ground truth stability labels. Given this data set, we train several classification methods to find out whether there is some underlying, non-trivial structure in the data that is difficult to model manually but can be learned. Quantitative and qualitative results show the complexity of the prediction problem. We found that a good prediction performance critically depends on using a combination of metrics as input features. Furthermore, non-parametric and non-linear classifiers best capture the structure in the data.

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


Thumb xl hassan paper teasere
Augmented Reality Meets Deep Learning for Car Instance Segmentation in Urban Scenes

Alhaija, H. A., Mustikovela, S. K., Mescheder, L., Geiger, A., Rother, C.

In Proceedings of the British Machine Vision Conference 2017, Proceedings of the British Machine Vision Conference, September 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The success of deep learning in computer vision is based on the availability of large annotated datasets. To lower the need for hand labeled images, virtually rendered 3D worlds have recently gained popularity. Unfortunately, creating realistic 3D content is challenging on its own and requires significant human effort. In this work, we propose an alternative paradigm which combines real and synthetic data for learning semantic instance segmentation models. Exploiting the fact that not all aspects of the scene are equally important for this task, we propose to augment real-world imagery with virtual objects of the target category. Capturing real-world images at large scale is easy and cheap, and directly provides real background appearances without the need for creating complex 3D models of the environment. We present an efficient procedure to augment these images with virtual objects. This allows us to create realistic composite images which exhibit both realistic background appearance as well as a large number of complex object arrangements. In contrast to modeling complete 3D environments, our data augmentation approach requires only a few user interactions in combination with 3D shapes of the target object category. We demonstrate the utility of the proposed approach for training a state-of-the-art high-capacity deep model for semantic instance segmentation. In particular, we consider the task of segmenting car instances on the KITTI dataset which we have annotated with pixel-accurate ground truth. Our experiments demonstrate that models trained on augmented imagery generalize better than those trained on synthetic data or models trained on limited amounts of annotated real data.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Local Bayesian Optimization of Motor Skills

Akrour, R., Sorokin, D., Peters, J., Neumann, G.

Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Machine Learning, 70, pages: 41-50, Proceedings of Machine Learning Research, (Editors: Doina Precup, Yee Whye Teh), PMLR, International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), August 2017 (conference)

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Adversarial Variational Bayes: Unifying Variational Autoencoders and Generative Adversarial Networks

Mescheder, L., Nowozin, S., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Machine Learning, 70, Proceedings of Machine Learning Research, (Editors: Doina Precup, Yee Whye Teh), PMLR, International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), August 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Variational Autoencoders (VAEs) are expressive latent variable models that can be used to learn complex probability distributions from training data. However, the quality of the resulting model crucially relies on the expressiveness of the inference model. We introduce Adversarial Variational Bayes (AVB), a technique for training Variational Autoencoders with arbitrarily expressive inference models. We achieve this by introducing an auxiliary discriminative network that allows to rephrase the maximum-likelihood-problem as a two-player game, hence establishing a principled connection between VAEs and Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). We show that in the nonparametric limit our method yields an exact maximum-likelihood assignment for the parameters of the generative model, as well as the exact posterior distribution over the latent variables given an observation. Contrary to competing approaches which combine VAEs with GANs, our approach has a clear theoretical justification, retains most advantages of standard Variational Autoencoders and is easy to implement.

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pdf suppmat Project Page arxiv-version Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Project Page arxiv-version Project Page [BibTex]


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Combining Model-Based and Model-Free Updates for Trajectory-Centric Reinforcement Learning

Chebotar, Y., Hausman, K., Zhang, M., Sukhatme, G., Schaal, S., Levine, S.

Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Machine Learning, 70, Proceedings of Machine Learning Research, (Editors: Doina Precup, Yee Whye Teh), PMLR, International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), August 2017 (conference)

am

pdf video [BibTex]

pdf video [BibTex]


Thumb xl imageedit 2 3509327594
Learning local feature aggregation functions with backpropagation

Paschalidou, D., Katharopoulos, A., Diou, C., Delopoulos, A.

In IEEE, Signal Processing Conference (EUSIPCO), 25th European, August 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper introduces a family of local feature aggregation functions and a novel method to estimate their parameters, such that they generate optimal representations for classification (or any task that can be expressed as a cost function minimization problem). To achieve that, we compose the local feature aggregation function with the classifier cost function and we backpropagate the gradient of this cost function in order to update the local feature aggregation function parameters. Experiments on synthetic datasets indicate that our method discovers parameters that model the class-relevant information in addition to the local feature space. Further experiments on a variety of motion and visual descriptors, both on image and video datasets, show that our method outperforms other state-of-the-art local feature aggregation functions, such as Bag of Words, Fisher Vectors and VLAD, by a large margin.

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pdf code poster link (url) DOI [BibTex]

pdf code poster link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Slow Flow: Exploiting High-Speed Cameras for Accurate and Diverse Optical Flow Reference Data

Janai, J., Güney, F., Wulff, J., Black, M., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2017, pages: 1406-1416, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Existing optical flow datasets are limited in size and variability due to the difficulty of capturing dense ground truth. In this paper, we tackle this problem by tracking pixels through densely sampled space-time volumes recorded with a high-speed video camera. Our model exploits the linearity of small motions and reasons about occlusions from multiple frames. Using our technique, we are able to establish accurate reference flow fields outside the laboratory in natural environments. Besides, we show how our predictions can be used to augment the input images with realistic motion blur. We demonstrate the quality of the produced flow fields on synthetic and real-world datasets. Finally, we collect a novel challenging optical flow dataset by applying our technique on data from a high-speed camera and analyze the performance of the state-of-the-art in optical flow under various levels of motion blur.

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pdf suppmat Project page Video DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Project page Video DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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OctNet: Learning Deep 3D Representations at High Resolutions

Riegler, G., Ulusoy, O., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2017, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present OctNet, a representation for deep learning with sparse 3D data. In contrast to existing models, our representation enables 3D convolutional networks which are both deep and high resolution. Towards this goal, we exploit the sparsity in the input data to hierarchically partition the space using a set of unbalanced octrees where each leaf node stores a pooled feature representation. This allows to focus memory allocation and computation to the relevant dense regions and enables deeper networks without compromising resolution. We demonstrate the utility of our OctNet representation by analyzing the impact of resolution on several 3D tasks including 3D object classification, orientation estimation and point cloud labeling.

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pdf suppmat Project Page Video Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Project Page Video Project Page [BibTex]


Thumb xl schoeps2017cvpr
A Multi-View Stereo Benchmark with High-Resolution Images and Multi-Camera Videos

Schöps, T., Schönberger, J. L., Galliani, S., Sattler, T., Schindler, K., Pollefeys, M., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2017, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Motivated by the limitations of existing multi-view stereo benchmarks, we present a novel dataset for this task. Towards this goal, we recorded a variety of indoor and outdoor scenes using a high-precision laser scanner and captured both high-resolution DSLR imagery as well as synchronized low-resolution stereo videos with varying fields-of-view. To align the images with the laser scans, we propose a robust technique which minimizes photometric errors conditioned on the geometry. In contrast to previous datasets, our benchmark provides novel challenges and covers a diverse set of viewpoints and scene types, ranging from natural scenes to man-made indoor and outdoor environments. Furthermore, we provide data at significantly higher temporal and spatial resolution. Our benchmark is the first to cover the important use case of hand-held mobile devices while also providing high-resolution DSLR camera images. We make our datasets and an online evaluation server available at http://www.eth3d.net.

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pdf suppmat Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Thumb xl camposeco2017cvpr
Toroidal Constraints for Two Point Localization Under High Outlier Ratios

Camposeco, F., Sattler, T., Cohen, A., Geiger, A., Pollefeys, M.

In Proceedings IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2017, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Localizing a query image against a 3D model at large scale is a hard problem, since 2D-3D matches become more and more ambiguous as the model size increases. This creates a need for pose estimation strategies that can handle very low inlier ratios. In this paper, we draw new insights on the geometric information available from the 2D-3D matching process. As modern descriptors are not invariant against large variations in viewpoint, we are able to find the rays in space used to triangulate a given point that are closest to a query descriptor. It is well known that two correspondences constrain the camera to lie on the surface of a torus. Adding the knowledge of direction of triangulation, we are able to approximate the position of the camera from \emphtwo matches alone. We derive a geometric solver that can compute this position in under 1 microsecond. Using this solver, we propose a simple yet powerful outlier filter which scales quadratically in the number of matches. We validate the accuracy of our solver and demonstrate the usefulness of our method in real world settings.

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pdf suppmat Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Project Page pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Semantic Multi-view Stereo: Jointly Estimating Objects and Voxels

Ulusoy, A. O., Black, M. J., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2017, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Dense 3D reconstruction from RGB images is a highly ill-posed problem due to occlusions, textureless or reflective surfaces, as well as other challenges. We propose object-level shape priors to address these ambiguities. Towards this goal, we formulate a probabilistic model that integrates multi-view image evidence with 3D shape information from multiple objects. Inference in this model yields a dense 3D reconstruction of the scene as well as the existence and precise 3D pose of the objects in it. Our approach is able to recover fine details not captured in the input shapes while defaulting to the input models in occluded regions where image evidence is weak. Due to its probabilistic nature, the approach is able to cope with the approximate geometry of the 3D models as well as input shapes that are not present in the scene. We evaluate the approach quantitatively on several challenging indoor and outdoor datasets.

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YouTube pdf suppmat Project Page [BibTex]

YouTube pdf suppmat Project Page [BibTex]


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Locomotion of light-driven soft microrobots through a hydrogel via local melting

Palagi, S., Mark, A. G., Melde, K., Qiu, T., Zeng, H., Parmeggiani, C., Martella, D., Wiersma, D. S., Fischer, P.

In 2017 International Conference on Manipulation, Automation and Robotics at Small Scales (MARSS), pages: 1-5, July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Soft mobile microrobots whose deformation can be directly controlled by an external field can adapt to move in different environments. This is the case for the light-driven microrobots based on liquid-crystal elastomers (LCEs). Here we show that the soft microrobots can move through an agarose hydrogel by means of light-controlled travelling-wave motions. This is achieved by exploiting the inherent rise of the LCE temperature above the melting temperature of the agarose gel, which facilitates penetration of the microrobot through the hydrogel. The locomotion performance is investigated as a function of the travelling-wave parameters, showing that effective propulsion can be obtained by adapting the generated motion to the specific environmental conditions.

pf

DOI [BibTex]

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.

am ics

arXiv Supplementary material PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv Supplementary material PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Non-Equilibrium Assembly of Light-Activated Colloidal Mixtures

Singh, D. P., Choudhury, U., Fischer, P., Mark, A. G.

Advanced Materials, 29, pages: 1701328, June 2017, 32 (article)

Abstract
The collective phenomena exhibited by artificial active matter systems present novel routes to fabricating out-of-equilibrium microscale assemblies. Here, the crystallization of passive silica colloids into well-controlled 2D assemblies is shown, which is directed by a small number of self-propelled active colloids. The active colloids are titania–silica Janus particles that are propelled when illuminated by UV light. The strength of the attractive interaction and thus the extent of the assembled clusters can be regulated by the light intensity. A remarkably small number of the active colloids is sufficient to induce the assembly of the dynamic crystals. The approach produces rationally designed colloidal clusters and crystals with controllable sizes, shapes, and symmetries. This multicomponent active matter system offers the possibility of obtaining structures and assemblies that cannot be found in equilibrium systems.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Nanodiamonds That Swim

Kim, J. T., Choudhury, U., Hyeon-Ho, J., Fischer, P.

Advanced Materials, 29(30):1701024, June 2017, Back Cover (article)

Abstract
Nanodiamonds are emerging as nanoscale quantum probes for bio-sensing and imaging. This necessitates the development of new methods to accurately manipulate their position and orientation in aqueous solutions. The realization of an “active” nanodiamond (ND) swimmer in fluids, composed of a ND crystal containing nitrogen vacancy centers and a light-driven self-thermophoretic micromotor, is reported. The swimmer is propelled by a local temperature gradient created by laser illumination on its metal-coated side. Its locomotion—from translational to rotational motion—is successfully controlled by shape-dependent hydrodynamic interactions. The precise engineering of the swimmer's geometry is achieved by self-assembly combined with physical vapor shadow growth. The optical addressability of the suspended ND swimmers is demonstrated by observing the electron spin resonance in the presence of magnetic fields. Active motion at the nanoscale enables new sensing capabilities combined with active transport including, potentially, in living organisms.

pf

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Model-Based Policy Search for Automatic Tuning of Multivariate PID Controllers

Doerr, A., Nguyen-Tuong, D., Marco, A., Schaal, S., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 5295-5301, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2017 (inproceedings)

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PDF arXiv DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF arXiv DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Learning Feedback Terms for Reactive Planning and Control

Rai, A., Sutanto, G., Schaal, S., Meier, F.

Proceedings 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2017 (conference)

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pdf video [BibTex]

pdf video [BibTex]


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Virtual vs. Real: Trading Off Simulations and Physical Experiments in Reinforcement Learning with Bayesian Optimization

Marco, A., Berkenkamp, F., Hennig, P., Schoellig, A. P., Krause, A., Schaal, S., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 1557-1563, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2017 (inproceedings)

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PDF arXiv ICRA 2017 Spotlight presentation Virtual vs. Real - Video explanation DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF arXiv ICRA 2017 Spotlight presentation Virtual vs. Real - Video explanation DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Path Integral Guided Policy Search

Chebotar, Y., Kalakrishnan, M., Yahya, A., Li, A., Schaal, S., Levine, S.

Proceedings 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2017 (conference)

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pdf video [BibTex]

pdf video [BibTex]


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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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Soft 3D-Printed Phantom of the Human Kidney with Collecting System

Adams, F., Qiu, T., Mark, A., Fritz, B., Kramer, L., Schlager, D., Wetterauer, U., Miernik, A., Fischer, P.

Ann. of Biomed. Eng., 45(4):963-972, April 2017 (article)

Abstract
Organ models are used for planning and simulation of operations, developing new surgical instruments, and training purposes. There is a substantial demand for in vitro organ phantoms, especially in urological surgery. Animal models and existing simulator systems poorly mimic the detailed morphology and the physical properties of human organs. In this paper, we report a novel fabrication process to make a human kidney phantom with realistic anatomical structures and physical properties. The detailed anatomical structure was directly acquired from high resolution CT data sets of human cadaveric kidneys. The soft phantoms were constructed using a novel technique that combines 3D wax printing and polymer molding. Anatomical details and material properties of the phantoms were validated in detail by CT scan, ultrasound, and endoscopy. CT reconstruction, ultrasound examination, and endoscopy showed that the designed phantom mimics a real kidney's detailed anatomy and correctly corresponds to the targeted human cadaver's upper urinary tract. Soft materials with a tensile modulus of 0.8-1.5 MPa as well as biocompatible hydrogels were used to mimic human kidney tissues. We developed a method of constructing 3D organ models from medical imaging data using a 3D wax printing and molding process. This method is cost-effective means for obtaining a reproducible and robust model suitable for surgical simulation and training purposes.

pf

DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Chapter 8 - Micro- and nanorobots in Newtonian and biological viscoelastic fluids

Palagi, S., (Walker) Schamel, D., Qiu, T., Fischer, P.

In Microbiorobotics, pages: 133 - 162, 8, Micro and Nano Technologies, Second edition, Elsevier, Boston, March 2017 (incollection)

Abstract
Swimming microorganisms are a source of inspiration for small scale robots that are intended to operate in fluidic environments including complex biomedical fluids. Nature has devised swimming strategies that are effective at small scales and at low Reynolds number. These include the rotary corkscrew motion that, for instance, propels a flagellated bacterial cell, as well as the asymmetric beat of appendages that sperm cells or ciliated protozoa use to move through fluids. These mechanisms can overcome the reciprocity that governs the hydrodynamics at small scale. The complex molecular structure of biologically important fluids presents an additional challenge for the effective propulsion of microrobots. In this chapter it is shown how physical and chemical approaches are essential in realizing engineered abiotic micro- and nanorobots that can move in biomedically important environments. Interestingly, we also describe a microswimmer that is effective in biological viscoelastic fluids that does not have a natural analogue.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Wireless micro-robots for endoscopic applications in urology

Adams, F., Qiu, T., Mark, A. G., Melde, K., Palagi, S., Miernik, A., Fischer, P.

In Eur Urol Suppl, 16(3):e1914, March 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Endoscopy is an essential and common method for both diagnostics and therapy in Urology. Current flexible endoscope is normally cable-driven, thus it is hard to be miniaturized and its reachability is restricted as only one bending section near the tip with one degree of freedom (DoF) is allowed. Recent progresses in micro-robotics offer a unique opportunity for medical inspections in minimally invasive surgery. Micro-robots are active devices that has a feature size smaller than one millimeter and can normally be actuated and controlled wirelessly. Magnetically actuated micro-robots have been demonstrated to propel through biological fluids.Here, we report a novel micro robotic arm, which is actuated wirelessly by ultrasound. It works as a miniaturized endoscope with a side length of ~1 mm, which fits through the 3 Fr. tool channel of a cystoscope, and successfully performs an active cystoscopy in a rabbit bladder.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Pattern formation and collective effects in populations of magnetic microswimmers

Vach, P. J., (Walker) Schamel, D., Fischer, P., Fratzl, P., Faivre, D.

J. of Phys. D: Appl. Phys., 50(11):11LT03, Febuary 2017 (article)

Abstract
Self-propelled particles are one prototype of synthetic active matter used to understand complex biological processes, such as the coordination of movement in bacterial colonies or schools of fishes. Collective patterns such as clusters were observed for such systems, reproducing features of biological organization. However, one limitation of this model is that the synthetic assemblies are made of identical individuals. Here we introduce an active system based on magnetic particles at colloidal scales. We use identical but also randomly-shaped magnetic micropropellers and show that they exhibit dynamic and reversible pattern formation.

pf

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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On-chip enzymatic microbiofuel cell-powered integrated circuits

Mark, A. G., Suraniti, E., Roche, J., Richter, H., Kuhn, A., Mano, N., Fischer, P.

Lab on a Chip, 17(10):1761-1768, Febuary 2017, Recent HOT Article (article)

Abstract
A variety of diagnostic and therapeutic medical technologies rely on long term implantation of an electronic device to monitor or regulate a patient's condition. One proposed approach to powering these devices is to use a biofuel cell to convert the chemical energy from blood nutrients into electrical current to supply the electronics. We present here an enzymatic microbiofuel cell whose electrodes are directly integrated into a digital electronic circuit. Glucose oxidizing and oxygen reducing enzymes are immobilized on microelectrodes of an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) using redox hydrogels to produce an enzymatic biofuel cell, capable of harvesting electrical power from just a single droplet of 5 mM glucose solution. Optimisation of the fuel cell voltage and power to match the requirements of the electronics allow self-powered operation of the on-board digital circuitry. This study represents a step towards implantable self-powered electronic devices that gather their energy from physiological fluids.

Recent HOT Article.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Strong Rotational Anisotropies Affect Nonlinear Chiral Metamaterials

Hooper, D. C., Mark, A. G., Kuppe, C., Collins, J. T., Fischer, P., Valev, V. K.

Advanced Materials, 29(13):1605110, January 2017 (article)

Abstract
Masked by rotational anisotropies, the nonlinear chiroptical response of a metamaterial is initially completely inaccessible. Upon rotating the sample the chiral information emerges. These results highlight the need for a general method to extract the true chiral contributions to the nonlinear optical signal, which would be hugely valuable in the present context of increasingly complex chiral meta/nanomaterials.

pf

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [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]


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SurfaceNet: An End-to-End 3D Neural Network for Multiview Stereopsis

Ji, M., Gall, J., Zheng, H., Liu, Y., Fang, L.

In IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), 2017, IEEE Computer Society, 2017 IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper proposes an end-to-end learning framework for multiview stereopsis. We term the network SurfaceNet. It takes a set of images and their corresponding camera parameters as input and directly infers the 3D model. The key advantage of the framework is that both photo-consistency as well geometric relations of the surface structure can be directly learned for the purpose of multiview stereopsis in an end-to-end fashion. SurfaceNet is a fully 3D convolutional network which is achieved by encoding the camera parameters together with the images in a 3D voxel representation. We evaluate SurfaceNet on the large-scale DTU benchmark. Code is available in https://github.com/mjiUST/SurfaceNet

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Robot Learning

Peters, J., Lee, D., Kober, J., Nguyen-Tuong, D., Bagnell, J., Schaal, S.

In Springer Handbook of Robotics, pages: 357-394, 15, 2nd, (Editors: Siciliano, Bruno and Khatib, Oussama), Springer International Publishing, 2017 (inbook)

am ei

Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Computer Vision for Autonomous Vehicles: Problems, Datasets and State-of-the-Art

Janai, J., Güney, F., Behl, A., Geiger, A.

Arxiv, 2017 (article)

Abstract
Recent years have witnessed amazing progress in AI related fields such as computer vision, machine learning and autonomous vehicles. As with any rapidly growing field, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay up-to-date or enter the field as a beginner. While several topic specific survey papers have been written, to date no general survey on problems, datasets and methods in computer vision for autonomous vehicles exists. This paper attempts to narrow this gap by providing a state-of-the-art survey on this topic. Our survey includes both the historically most relevant literature as well as the current state-of-the-art on several specific topics, including recognition, reconstruction, motion estimation, tracking, scene understanding and end-to-end learning. Towards this goal, we first provide a taxonomy to classify each approach and then analyze the performance of the state-of-the-art on several challenging benchmarking datasets including KITTI, ISPRS, MOT and Cityscapes. Besides, we discuss open problems and current research challenges. To ease accessibility and accommodate missing references, we will also provide an interactive platform which allows to navigate topics and methods, and provides additional information and project links for each paper.

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pdf Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Community detection, link prediction, and layer interdependence in multilayer networks

De Bacco, C., Power, E. A., Larremore, D. B., Moore, C.

Physical Review E, 95(4):042317, APS, 2017 (article)

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Code Preprint link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

Code Preprint link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

2011


Thumb xl screen shot 2015 08 23 at 15.47.13
Multi-Modal Scene Understanding for Robotic Grasping

Bohg, J.

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

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

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pdf [BibTex]

2011


pdf [BibTex]