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2017


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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]

2017


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


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Swimming in low reynolds numbers using planar and helical flagellar waves

Khalil, I. S. M., Tabak, A. F., Seif, M. A., Klingner, A., Adel, B., Sitti, M.

In International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) 2017, pages: 1907-1912, International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, September 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In travelling towards the oviducts, sperm cells undergo transitions between planar to helical flagellar propulsion by a beating tail based on the viscosity of the environment. In this work, we aim to model and mimic this behaviour in low Reynolds number fluids using externally actuated soft robotic sperms. We numerically investigate the effects of transition between planar to helical flagellar propulsion on the swimming characteristics of the robotic sperm using a model based on resistive-force theory to study the role of viscous forces on its flexible tail. Experimental results are obtained using robots that contain magnetic particles within the polymer matrix of its head and an ultra-thin flexible tail. The planar and helical flagellar propulsion are achieved using in-plane and out-of-plane uniform fields with sinusoidally varying components, respectively. We experimentally show that the swimming speed of the robotic sperm increases by a factor of 1.4 (fluid viscosity 5 Pa.s) when it undergoes a controlled transition between planar to helical flagellar propulsion, at relatively low actuation frequencies.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Coupling Adaptive Batch Sizes with Learning Rates

Balles, L., Romero, J., Hennig, P.

In Proceedings Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI) 2017, pages: 410-419, (Editors: Gal Elidan and Kristian Kersting), Association for Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (AUAI), Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI), August 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Mini-batch stochastic gradient descent and variants thereof have become standard for large-scale empirical risk minimization like the training of neural networks. These methods are usually used with a constant batch size chosen by simple empirical inspection. The batch size significantly influences the behavior of the stochastic optimization algorithm, though, since it determines the variance of the gradient estimates. This variance also changes over the optimization process; when using a constant batch size, stability and convergence is thus often enforced by means of a (manually tuned) decreasing learning rate schedule. We propose a practical method for dynamic batch size adaptation. It estimates the variance of the stochastic gradients and adapts the batch size to decrease the variance proportionally to the value of the objective function, removing the need for the aforementioned learning rate decrease. In contrast to recent related work, our algorithm couples the batch size to the learning rate, directly reflecting the known relationship between the two. On three image classification benchmarks, our batch size adaptation yields faster optimization convergence, while simultaneously simplifying learning rate tuning. A TensorFlow implementation is available.

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Code link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

Code link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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An XY ϴz flexure mechanism with optimal stiffness properties

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

In 2017 IEEE International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM), pages: 1103-1110, July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The development of optimal XY θz flexure mechanisms, which can deliver high precision motion about the z-axis, and along the x- and y-axes is highly desirable for a wide range of micro/nano-positioning tasks pertaining to biomedical research, microscopy technologies and various industrial applications. Although maximizing the stiffness ratios is a very critical design requirement, the achievable translational and rotational stiffness ratios of existing XY θz flexure mechanisms are still restricted between 0.5 and 130. As a result, these XY θz flexure mechanisms are unable to fully optimize their workspace and capabilities to reject disturbances. Here, we present an optimal XY θz flexure mechanism, which is designed to have maximum stiffness ratios. Based on finite element analysis (FEA), it has translational stiffness ratio of 248, rotational stiffness ratio of 238 and a large workspace of 2.50 mm × 2.50 mm × 10°. Despite having such a large workspace, FEA also predicts that the proposed mechanism can still achieve a high bandwidth of 70 Hz. In comparison, the bandwidth of similar existing flexure mechanisms that can deflect more than 0.5 mm or 0.5° is typically less than 45 Hz. Hence, the high stiffness ratios of the proposed mechanism are achieved without compromising its dynamic performance. Preliminary experimental results pertaining to the mechanism's translational actuating stiffness and bandwidth were in agreement with the FEA predictions as the deviation was within 10%. In conclusion, the proposed flexure mechanism exhibits superior performance and can be used across a wide range of applications.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Positioning of drug carriers using permanent magnet-based robotic system in three-dimensional space

Khalil, I. S. M., Alfar, A., Tabak, A. F., Klingner, A., Stramigioli, S., Sitti, M.

In 2017 IEEE International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM), pages: 1117-1122, July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Magnetic control of drug carriers using systems with open-configurations is essential to enable scaling to the size of in vivo applications. In this study, we demonstrate motion control of paramagnetic microparticles in a low Reynolds number fluid, using a permanent magnet-based robotic system with an open-configuration. The microparticles are controlled in three-dimensional (3D) space using a cylindrical NdFeB magnet that is fixed to the end-effector of a robotic arm. We develop a kinematic map between the position of the microparticles and the configuration of the robotic arm, and use this map as a basis of a closed-loop control system based on the position of the microparticles. Our experimental results show the ability of the robot configuration to control the exerted field gradient on the dipole of the microparticles, and achieve positioning in 3D space with maximum error of 300 µm and 600 µm in the steady-state during setpoint and trajectory tracking, respectively.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Self-assembly of micro/nanosystems across scales and interfaces

Mastrangeli, M.

In 2017 19th International Conference on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems (TRANSDUCERS), pages: 676 - 681, IEEE, July 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Steady progress in understanding and implementation are establishing self-assembly as a versatile, parallel and scalable approach to the fabrication of transducers. In this contribution, I illustrate the principles and reach of self-assembly with three applications at different scales - namely, the capillary self-alignment of millimetric components, the sealing of liquid-filled polymeric microcapsules, and the accurate capillary assembly of single nanoparticles - and propose foreseeable directions for further developments.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Dynamic Time-of-Flight

Schober, M., Adam, A., Yair, O., Mazor, S., Nowozin, S.

Proceedings IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2017, pages: 170-179, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), July 2017 (conference)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [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.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Dynamic analysis on hexapedal water-running robot with compliant joints

Kim, H., Liu, Y., Jeong, K., Sitti, M., Seo, T.

In 2017 14th International Conference on Ubiquitous Robots and Ambient Intelligence (URAI), pages: 250-251, June 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The dynamic analysis has been considered as one of the important design methods to design robots. In this research, we derive dynamic equation of hexapedal water-running robot to design compliant joints. The compliant joints that connect three bodies will be used to improve mobility and stability of water-running motion's pitch behavior. We considered all of parts as rigid body including links of six Klann mechanisms and three main frames. And then, we derived dynamic equation by using the Lagrangian method with external force of the water. We are expecting that the dynamic analysis is going to be used to design parts of the water running robot.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [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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Design and actuation of a magnetic millirobot under a constant unidirectional magnetic field

Erin, O., Giltinan, J., Tsai, L., Sitti, M.

In Proceedings 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 3404-3410, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Magnetic untethered millirobots, which are actuated and controlled by remote magnetic fields, have been proposed for medical applications due to their ability to safely pass through tissues at long ranges. For example, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems with a 3-7 T constant unidirectional magnetic field and 3D gradient coils have been used to actuate magnetic robots. Such magnetically constrained systems place limits on the degrees of freedom that can be actuated for untethered devices. This paper presents a design and actuation methodology for a magnetic millirobot that exhibits both position and orientation control in 2D under a magnetic field, dominated by a constant unidirectional magnetic field as found in MRI systems. Placing a spherical permanent magnet, which is free to rotate inside the millirobot and located away from the center of mass, allows the generation of net forces and torques with applied 3D magnetic field gradients. We model this system in a 3D planar case and experimentally demonstrate open-loop control of both position and orientation by the applied 2D field gradients. The actuation performance is characterized across the most important design variables, and we experimentally demonstrate that the proposed approach is feasible.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Magnetically actuated soft capsule endoscope for fine-needle aspiration biopsy

Son, D., Dogan, M. D., Sitti, M.

In Proceedings 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 1132-1139, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper presents a magnetically actuated soft capsule endoscope for fine-needle aspiration biopsy (B-MASCE) in the upper gastrointestinal tract. A thin and hollow needle is attached to the capsule, which can penetrate deeply into tissues to obtain subsurface biopsy sample. The design utilizes a soft elastomer body as a compliant mechanism to guide the needle. An internal permanent magnet provides a means for both actuation and tracking. The capsule is designed to roll towards its target and then deploy the biopsy needle in a precise location selected as the target area. B-MASCE is controlled by multiple custom-designed electromagnets while its position and orientation are tracked by a magnetic sensor array. In in vitro trials, B-MASCE demonstrated rolling locomotion and biopsy of a swine tissue model positioned inside an anatomical human stomach model. It was confirmed after the experiment that a tissue sample was retained inside the needle.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Fast Bayesian Optimization of Machine Learning Hyperparameters on Large Datasets

Klein, A., Falkner, S., Bartels, S., Hennig, P., Hutter, F.

Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics (AISTATS 2017), 54, pages: 528-536, Proceedings of Machine Learning Research, (Editors: Sign, Aarti and Zhu, Jerry), PMLR, April 2017 (conference)

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pdf link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

pdf link (url) Project Page [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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The use of clamping grips and friction pads by tree frogs for climbing curved surfaces

Endlein, T., Ji, A., Yuan, S., Hill, I., Wang, H., Barnes, W. J. P., Dai, Z., Sitti, M.

In Proc. R. Soc. B, 284(1849):20162867, Febuary 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Most studies on the adhesive mechanisms of climbing animals have addressed attachment against flat surfaces, yet many animals can climb highly curved surfaces, like twigs and small branches. Here we investigated whether tree frogs use a clamping grip by recording the ground reaction forces on a cylindrical object with either a smooth or anti-adhesive, rough surface. Furthermore, we measured the contact area of fore and hindlimbs against differently sized transparent cylinders and the forces of individual pads and subarticular tubercles in restrained animals. Our study revealed that frogs use friction and normal forces of roughly a similar magnitude for holding on to cylindrical objects. When challenged with climbing a non-adhesive surface, the compressive forces between opposite legs nearly doubled, indicating a stronger clamping grip. In contrast to climbing flat surfaces, frogs increased the contact area on all limbs by engaging not just adhesive pads but also subarticular tubercles on curved surfaces. Our force measurements showed that tubercles can withstand larger shear stresses than pads. SEM images of tubercles revealed a similar structure to that of toe pads including the presence of nanopillars, though channels surrounding epithelial cells were less pronounced. The tubercles' smaller size, proximal location on the toes and shallow cells make them probably less prone to buckling and thus ideal for gripping curved surfaces.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Planning spin-walking locomotion for automatic grasping of microobjects by an untethered magnetic microgripper

Dong, X., Sitti, M.

In 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 6612-6618, 2017 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Most demonstrated mobile microrobot tasks so far have been achieved via pick-and-placing and dynamic trapping with teleoperation or simple path following algorithms. In our previous work, an untethered magnetic microgripper has been developed which has advanced functions, such as gripping objects. Both teleoperated manipulation in 2D and 3D have been demonstrated. However, it is challenging to control the magnetic microgripper to carry out manipulation tasks, because the grasping of objects so far in the literature relies heavily on teleoperation, which takes several minutes with even a skilled human expert. Here, we propose a new spin-walking locomotion and an automated 2D grasping motion planner for the microgripper, which enables time-efficient automatic grasping of microobjects that has not been achieved yet for untethered microrobots. In its locomotion, the microgripper repeatedly rotates about two principal axes to regulate its pose and move precisely on a surface. The motion planner could plan different motion primitives for grasping and compensate the uncertainties in the motion by learning the uncertainties and planning accordingly. We experimentally demonstrated that, using the proposed method, the microgripper could align to the target pose with error less than 0.1 body length and grip the objects within 40 seconds. Our method could significantly improve the time efficiency of micro-scale manipulation and have potential applications in microassembly and biomedical engineering.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]