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2019


Learning to Explore in Motion and Interaction Tasks
Learning to Explore in Motion and Interaction Tasks

Bogdanovic, M., Righetti, L.

IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), IEEE, November 2019 (conference)

Abstract
Model free reinforcement learning suffers from the high sampling complexity inherent to robotic manipulation or locomotion tasks. Most successful approaches typically use random sampling strategies which leads to slow policy convergence. In this paper we present a novel approach for efficient exploration that leverages previously learned tasks. We exploit the fact that the same system is used across many tasks and build a generative model for exploration based on data from previously solved tasks to improve learning new tasks. The approach also enables continuous learning of improved exploration strategies as novel tasks are learned. Extensive simulations on a robot manipulator performing a variety of motion and contact interaction tasks demonstrate the capabilities of the approach. In particular, our experiments suggest that the exploration strategy can more than double learning speed, especially when rewards are sparse. Moreover, the algorithm is robust to task variations and parameter tuning, making it beneficial for complex robotic problems.

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arXiv [BibTex]

2019


arXiv [BibTex]


Learning Variable Impedance Control for Contact Sensitive Tasks
Learning Variable Impedance Control for Contact Sensitive Tasks

Bogdanovic, M., Khadiv, M., Righetti, L.

arXiv preprint, arXiv:1907.07500, July 2019 (article)

Abstract
Reinforcement learning algorithms have shown great success in solving different problems ranging from playing video games to robotics. However, they struggle to solve delicate robotic problems, especially those involving contact interactions. Though in principle a policy outputting joint torques should be able to learn these tasks, in practice we see that they have difficulty to robustly solve the problem without any structure in the action space. In this paper, we investigate how the choice of action space can give robust performance in presence of contact uncertainties. We propose to learn a policy that outputs impedance and desired position in joint space as a function of system states without imposing any other structure to the problem. We compare the performance of this approach to torque and position control policies under different contact uncertainties. Extensive simulation results on two different systems, a hopper (floating-base) with intermittent contacts and a manipulator (fixed-base) wiping a table, show that our proposed approach outperforms policies outputting torque or position in terms of both learning rate and robustness to environment uncertainty.

mg

[BibTex]


A Magnetically-Actuated Untethered Jellyfish-Inspired Soft Milliswimmer
A Magnetically-Actuated Untethered Jellyfish-Inspired Soft Milliswimmer

(Best Paper Award)

Ziyu Ren, T. W., Hu, W.

RSS 2019: Robotics: Science and Systems Conference, June 2019 (conference)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Leveraging Contact Forces for Learning to Grasp
Leveraging Contact Forces for Learning to Grasp

Merzic, H., Bogdanovic, M., Kappler, D., Righetti, L., Bohg, J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2019, IEEE, International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Grasping objects under uncertainty remains an open problem in robotics research. This uncertainty is often due to noisy or partial observations of the object pose or shape. To enable a robot to react appropriately to unforeseen effects, it is crucial that it continuously takes sensor feedback into account. While visual feedback is important for inferring a grasp pose and reaching for an object, contact feedback offers valuable information during manipulation and grasp acquisition. In this paper, we use model-free deep reinforcement learning to synthesize control policies that exploit contact sensing to generate robust grasping under uncertainty. We demonstrate our approach on a multi-fingered hand that exhibits more complex finger coordination than the commonly used two- fingered grippers. We conduct extensive experiments in order to assess the performance of the learned policies, with and without contact sensing. While it is possible to learn grasping policies without contact sensing, our results suggest that contact feedback allows for a significant improvement of grasping robustness under object pose uncertainty and for objects with a complex shape.

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video arXiv [BibTex]

video arXiv [BibTex]


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Elastic modulus affects adhesive strength of gecko-inspired synthetics in variable temperature and humidity

Mitchell, CT, Drotlef, D, Dayan, CB, Sitti, M, Stark, AY

In INTEGRATIVE AND COMPARATIVE BIOLOGY, pages: E372-E372, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC JOURNALS DEPT, 2001 EVANS RD, CARY, NC 27513 USA, March 2019 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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X-ray Optics Fabrication Using Unorthodox Approaches

Sanli, U., Baluktsian, M., Ceylan, H., Sitti, M., Weigand, M., Schütz, G., Keskinbora, K.

Bulletin of the American Physical Society, APS, 2019 (article)

mms pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Microrobotics and Microorganisms: Biohybrid Autonomous Cellular Robots
Microrobotics and Microorganisms: Biohybrid Autonomous Cellular Robots

Alapan, Y., Yasa, O., Yigit, B., Yasa, I. C., Erkoc, P., Sitti, M.

Annual Review of Control, Robotics, and Autonomous Systems, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Tailored Magnetic Springs for Shape-Memory Alloy Actuated Mechanisms in Miniature Robots
Tailored Magnetic Springs for Shape-Memory Alloy Actuated Mechanisms in Miniature Robots

Woodward, M. A., Sitti, M.

IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 35, 2019 (article)

Abstract
Animals can incorporate large numbers of actuators because of the characteristics of muscles; whereas, robots cannot, as typical motors tend to be large, heavy, and inefficient. However, shape-memory alloys (SMA), materials that contract during heating because of change in their crystal structure, provide another option. SMA, though, is unidirectional and therefore requires an additional force to reset (extend) the actuator, which is typically provided by springs or antagonistic actuation. These strategies, however, tend to limit the actuator's work output and functionality as their force-displacement relationships typically produce increasing resistive force with limited variability. In contrast, magnetic springs-composed of permanent magnets, where the interaction force between magnets mimics a spring force-have much more variable force-displacement relationships and scale well with SMA. However, as of yet, no method for designing magnetic springs for SMA-actuators has been demonstrated. Therefore, in this paper, we present a new methodology to tailor magnetic springs to the characteristics of these actuators, with experimental results both for the device and robot-integrated SMA-actuators. We found magnetic building blocks, based on sets of permanent magnets, which are well-suited to SMAs and have the potential to incorporate features such as holding force, state transitioning, friction minimization, auto-alignment, and self-mounting. We show magnetic springs that vary by more than 3 N in 750 $\mu$m and two SMA-actuated devices that allow the MultiMo-Bat to reach heights of up to 4.5 m without, and 3.6 m with, integrated gliding airfoils. Our results demonstrate the potential of this methodology to add previously impossible functionality to smart material actuators. We anticipate this methodology will inspire broader consideration of the use of magnetic springs in miniature robots and further study of the potential of tailored magnetic springs throughout mechanical systems.

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DOI [BibTex]


Magnetically Actuated Soft Capsule Endoscope for Fine-Needle Biopsy
Magnetically Actuated Soft Capsule Endoscope for Fine-Needle Biopsy

Son, D., Gilbert, H., Sitti, M.

Soft robotics, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 140 Huguenot Street, 3rd Floor New …, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Thrust and Hydrodynamic Efficiency of the Bundled Flagella
Thrust and Hydrodynamic Efficiency of the Bundled Flagella

Danis, U., Rasooli, R., Chen, C., Dur, O., Sitti, M., Pekkan, K.

Micromachines, 10, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


The near and far of a pair of magnetic capillary disks
The near and far of a pair of magnetic capillary disks

Koens, L., Wang, W., Sitti, M., Lauga, E.

Soft Matter, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Multifarious Transit Gates for Programmable Delivery of Bio‐functionalized Matters
Multifarious Transit Gates for Programmable Delivery of Bio‐functionalized Matters

Hu, X., Torati, S. R., Kim, H., Yoon, J., Lim, B., Kim, K., Sitti, M., Kim, C.

Small, Wiley Online Library, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Multi-functional soft-bodied jellyfish-like swimming
Multi-functional soft-bodied jellyfish-like swimming

Ren, Z., Hu, W., Dong, X., Sitti, M.

Nature communications, 10, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]


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Welcome to Progress in Biomedical Engineering

Sitti, M.

Progress in Biomedical Engineering, 1, IOP Publishing, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Mechanics of a pressure-controlled adhesive membrane for soft robotic gripping on curved surfaces
Mechanics of a pressure-controlled adhesive membrane for soft robotic gripping on curved surfaces

Song, S., Drotlef, D., Paik, J., Majidi, C., Sitti, M.

Extreme Mechanics Letters, Elsevier, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]


Graphene oxide synergistically enhances antibiotic efficacy in Vancomycin resistance Staphylococcus aureus
Graphene oxide synergistically enhances antibiotic efficacy in Vancomycin resistance Staphylococcus aureus

Singh, V., Kumar, V., Kashyap, S., Singh, A. V., Kishore, V., Sitti, M., Saxena, P. S., Srivastava, A.

ACS Applied Bio Materials, ACS Publications, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Review of emerging concepts in nanotoxicology: opportunities and challenges for safer nanomaterial design
Review of emerging concepts in nanotoxicology: opportunities and challenges for safer nanomaterial design

Singh, A. V., Laux, P., Luch, A., Sudrik, C., Wiehr, S., Wild, A., Santamauro, G., Bill, J., Sitti, M.

Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Multifunctional and biodegradable self-propelled protein motors
Multifunctional and biodegradable self-propelled protein motors

Pena-Francesch, A., Giltinan, J., Sitti, M.

Nature communications, 10, Nature Publishing Group, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Cohesive self-organization of mobile microrobotic swarms
Cohesive self-organization of mobile microrobotic swarms

Yigit, B., Alapan, Y., Sitti, M.

arXiv preprint arXiv:1907.05856, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Mobile microrobots for active therapeutic delivery
Mobile microrobots for active therapeutic delivery

Erkoc, P., Yasa, I. C., Ceylan, H., Yasa, O., Alapan, Y., Sitti, M.

Advanced Therapeutics, Wiley Online Library, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Shape-encoded dynamic assembly of mobile micromachines
Shape-encoded dynamic assembly of mobile micromachines

Alapan, Y., Yigit, B., Beker, O., Demirörs, A. F., Sitti, M.

Nature, 18, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Microfluidics Integrated Lithography‐Free Nanophotonic Biosensor for the Detection of Small Molecules
Microfluidics Integrated Lithography‐Free Nanophotonic Biosensor for the Detection of Small Molecules

Sreekanth, K. V., Sreejith, S., Alapan, Y., Sitti, M., Lim, C. T., Singh, R.

Advanced Optical Materials, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Gecko-inspired composite microfibers for reversible adhesion on smooth and rough surfaces

Drotlef, D., Dayan, C., Sitti, M.

In INTEGRATIVE AND COMPARATIVE BIOLOGY, pages: E58-E58, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC JOURNALS DEPT, 2001 EVANS RD, CARY, NC 27513 USA, 2019 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


ENGINEERING Bio-inspired robotic collectives
ENGINEERING Bio-inspired robotic collectives

Sitti, M.

Nature, 567, pages: 314-315, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London, England, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Robust Humanoid Locomotion Using Trajectory Optimization and Sample-Efficient Learning

Yeganegi, M. H., Khadiv, M., Moosavian, S. A. A., Zhu, J., Prete, A. D., Righetti, L.

Proceedings International Conference on Humanoid Robots, IEEE, 2019 IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, 2019 (conference)

Abstract
Trajectory optimization (TO) is one of the most powerful tools for generating feasible motions for humanoid robots. However, including uncertainties and stochasticity in the TO problem to generate robust motions can easily lead to intractable problems. Furthermore, since the models used in TO have always some level of abstraction, it can be hard to find a realistic set of uncertainties in the model space. In this paper we leverage a sample-efficient learning technique (Bayesian optimization) to robustify TO for humanoid locomotion. The main idea is to use data from full-body simulations to make the TO stage robust by tuning the cost weights. To this end, we split the TO problem into two phases. The first phase solves a convex optimization problem for generating center of mass (CoM) trajectories based on simplified linear dynamics. The second stage employs iterative Linear-Quadratic Gaussian (iLQG) as a whole-body controller to generate full body control inputs. Then we use Bayesian optimization to find the cost weights to use in the first stage that yields robust performance in the simulation/experiment, in the presence of different disturbance/uncertainties. The results show that the proposed approach is able to generate robust motions for different sets of disturbances and uncertainties.

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https://arxiv.org/abs/1907.04616 [BibTex]

https://arxiv.org/abs/1907.04616 [BibTex]


Peptide-Induced Biomineralization of Tin Oxide (SnO2) Nanoparticles for Antibacterial Applications
Peptide-Induced Biomineralization of Tin Oxide (SnO2) Nanoparticles for Antibacterial Applications

Singh, A. V., Jahnke, T., Xiao, Y., Wang, S., Yu, Y., David, H., Richter, G., Laux, P., Luch, A., Srivastava, A., Saxena, P. S., Bill, J., Sitti, M.

Journal of nanoscience and nanotechnology, 19, American Scientific Publishers, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Electromechanical actuation of dielectric liquid crystal elastomers for soft robotics

Davidson, Z., Shahsavan, H., Guo, Y., Hines, L., Xia, Y., Yang, S., Sitti, M.

Bulletin of the American Physical Society, APS, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Learning to Navigate Endoscopic Capsule Robots
Learning to Navigate Endoscopic Capsule Robots

Turan, M., Almalioglu, Y., Gilbert, H. B., Mahmood, F., Durr, N. J., Araujo, H., Sarı, A. E., Ajay, A., Sitti, M.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 4, 2019 (article)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]

2014


Series of Multilinked Caterpillar Track-type Climbing Robots
Series of Multilinked Caterpillar Track-type Climbing Robots

Lee, G., Kim, H., Seo, K., Kim, J., Sitti, M., Seo, T.

Journal of Field Robotics, November 2014 (article)

Abstract
Climbing robots have been widely applied in many industries involving hard to access, dangerous, or hazardous environments to replace human workers. Climbing speed, payload capacity, the ability to overcome obstacles, and wall-to-wall transitioning are significant characteristics of climbing robots. Here, multilinked track wheel-type climbing robots are proposed to enhance these characteristics. The robots have been developed for five years in collaboration with three universities: Seoul National University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Yeungnam University. Four types of robots are presented for different applications with different surface attachment methods and mechanisms: MultiTank for indoor sites, Flexible caterpillar robot (FCR) and Combot for heavy industrial sites, and MultiTrack for high-rise buildings. The method of surface attachment is different for each robot and application, and the characteristics of the joints between links are designed as active or passive according to the requirement of a given robot. Conceptual design, practical design, and control issues of such climbing robot types are reported, and a proper choice of the attachment methods and joint type is essential for the successful multilink track wheel-type climbing robot for different surface materials, robot size, and computational costs.

pi

DOI [BibTex]

2014


DOI [BibTex]


Geckogripper: A soft, inflatable robotic gripper using gecko-inspired elastomer micro-fiber adhesives
Geckogripper: A soft, inflatable robotic gripper using gecko-inspired elastomer micro-fiber adhesives

Song, S., Majidi, C., Sitti, M.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2014), 2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 4624-4629, September 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper proposes GeckoGripper, a novel soft, inflatable gripper based on the controllable adhesion mechanism of gecko-inspired micro-fiber adhesives, to pick-and-place complex and fragile non-planar or planar parts serially or in parallel. Unlike previous fibrillar structures that use peel angle to control the manipulation of parts, we developed an elastomer micro-fiber adhesive that is fabricated on a soft, flexible membrane, increasing the adaptability to non-planar three-dimensional (3D) geometries and controllability in adhesion. The adhesive switching ratio (the ratio between the maximum and minimum adhesive forces) of the developed gripper was measured to be around 204, which is superior to previous works based on peel angle-based release control methods. Adhesion control mechanism based on the stretch of the membrane and superior adaptability to non-planar 3D geometries enable the micro-fibers to pick-and-place various 3D parts as shown in demonstrations.

pi

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Segmented molecular design of self-healing proteinaceous materials.
Segmented molecular design of self-healing proteinaceous materials.

Sariola, V., Pena-Francesch, A., Jung, H., Çetinkaya, M., Pacheco, C., Sitti, M., Demirel, M. C.

Scientific reports, 5, pages: 13482-13482, Nature Publishing Group, July 2014 (article)

Abstract
Hierarchical assembly of self-healing adhesive proteins creates strong and robust structural and interfacial materials, but understanding of the molecular design and structure–property relationships of structural proteins remains unclear. Elucidating this relationship would allow rational design of next generation genetically engineered self-healing structural proteins. Here we report a general self-healing and -assembly strategy based on a multiphase recombinant protein based material. Segmented structure of the protein shows soft glycine- and tyrosine-rich segments with self-healing capability and hard beta-sheet segments. The soft segments are strongly plasticized by water, lowering the self-healing temperature close to body temperature. The hard segments self-assemble into nanoconfined domains to reinforce the material. The healing strength scales sublinearly with contact time, which associates with diffusion and wetting of autohesion. The finding suggests that recombinant structural proteins from heterologous expression have potential as strong and repairable engineering materials.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Bio-Hybrid Cell-Based Actuators for Microsystems
Bio-Hybrid Cell-Based Actuators for Microsystems

Carlsen, R. W., Sitti, M.

Small, 10(19):3831-3851, June 2014 (article)

Abstract
As we move towards the miniaturization of devices to perform tasks at the nano and microscale, it has become increasingly important to develop new methods for actuation, sensing, and control. Over the past decade, bio-hybrid methods have been investigated as a promising new approach to overcome the challenges of scaling down robotic and other functional devices. These methods integrate biological cells with artificial components and therefore, can take advantage of the intrinsic actuation and sensing functionalities of biological cells. Here, the recent advancements in bio-hybrid actuation are reviewed, and the challenges associated with the design, fabrication, and control of bio-hybrid microsystems are discussed. As a case study, focus is put on the development of bacteria-driven microswimmers, which has been investigated as a targeted drug delivery carrier. Finally, a future outlook for the development of these systems is provided. The continued integration of biological and artificial components is envisioned to enable the performance of tasks at a smaller and smaller scale in the future, leading to the parallel and distributed operation of functional systems at the microscale.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Fibrillar structures to reduce viscous drag on aerodynamic and hydrodynamic wall surfaces

Castillo, L., Aksak, B., Sitti, M.

March 2014, US Patent App. 14/774,767 (misc)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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The design of microfibers with mushroom-shaped tips for optimal adhesion

Sitti, M., Aksak, B.

February 2014, US Patent App. 14/766,561 (misc)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Continuously distributed magnetization profile for millimeter-scale elastomeric undulatory swimming
Continuously distributed magnetization profile for millimeter-scale elastomeric undulatory swimming

Diller, E., Zhuang, J., Zhan Lum, G., Edwards, M. R., Sitti, M.

Applied Physics Letters, 104(17):174101, AIP, 2014 (article)

Abstract
We have developed a millimeter-scale magnetically driven swimming robot for untethered motion at mid to low Reynolds numbers. The robot is propelled by continuous undulatory deformation, which is enabled by the distributed magnetization profile of a flexible sheet. We demonstrate control of a prototype device and measure deformation and speed as a function of magnetic field strength and frequency. Experimental results are compared with simple magnetoelastic and fluid propulsion models. The presented mechanism provides an efficient remote actuation method at the millimeter scale that may be suitable for further scaling down in size for microrobotics applications in biotechnology and healthcare

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Biopsy using a Magnetic Capsule Endoscope Carrying, Releasing and Retrieving Untethered Micro-Grippers

Yim, S., Gultepe, E., Gracias, D. H., Sitti, M.

IEEE Trans. on Biomedical Engineering, 61(2):513-521, IEEE, 2014 (article)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Investigation of tip current and normal force measured simultaneously during local oxidation of titanium using dual-mode scanning probe microscopy

Ozcan, O., Hu, W., Sitti, M., Bain, J., Ricketts, D.

IET Micro \& Nano Letters, 9(5):332-336, IET, 2014 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Three-dimensional robotic manipulation and transport of micro-scale objects by a magnetically driven capillary micro-gripper

Giltinan, J., Diller, E., Mayda, C., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2014 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2077-2082, 2014 (inproceedings)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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SoftCubes: Stretchable and self-assembling three-dimensional soft modular matter

Yim, S., Sitti, M.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 33(8):1083-1097, SAGE Publications Sage UK: London, England, 2014 (article)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]