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2019


Towards Geometric Understanding of Motion
Towards Geometric Understanding of Motion

Ranjan, A.

University of Tübingen, December 2019 (phdthesis)

Abstract

The motion of the world is inherently dependent on the spatial structure of the world and its geometry. Therefore, classical optical flow methods try to model this geometry to solve for the motion. However, recent deep learning methods take a completely different approach. They try to predict optical flow by learning from labelled data. Although deep networks have shown state-of-the-art performance on classification problems in computer vision, they have not been as effective in solving optical flow. The key reason is that deep learning methods do not explicitly model the structure of the world in a neural network, and instead expect the network to learn about the structure from data. We hypothesize that it is difficult for a network to learn about motion without any constraint on the structure of the world. Therefore, we explore several approaches to explicitly model the geometry of the world and its spatial structure in deep neural networks.

The spatial structure in images can be captured by representing it at multiple scales. To represent multiple scales of images in deep neural nets, we introduce a Spatial Pyramid Network (SpyNet). Such a network can leverage global information for estimating large motions and local information for estimating small motions. We show that SpyNet significantly improves over previous optical flow networks while also being the smallest and fastest neural network for motion estimation. SPyNet achieves a 97% reduction in model parameters over previous methods and is more accurate.

The spatial structure of the world extends to people and their motion. Humans have a very well-defined structure, and this information is useful in estimating optical flow for humans. To leverage this information, we create a synthetic dataset for human optical flow using a statistical human body model and motion capture sequences. We use this dataset to train deep networks and see significant improvement in the ability of the networks to estimate human optical flow.

The structure and geometry of the world affects the motion. Therefore, learning about the structure of the scene together with the motion can benefit both problems. To facilitate this, we introduce Competitive Collaboration, where several neural networks are constrained by geometry and can jointly learn about structure and motion in the scene without any labels. To this end, we show that jointly learning single view depth prediction, camera motion, optical flow and motion segmentation using Competitive Collaboration achieves state-of-the-art results among unsupervised approaches.

Our findings provide support for our hypothesis that explicit constraints on structure and geometry of the world lead to better methods for motion estimation.

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PhD Thesis [BibTex]

2019


PhD Thesis [BibTex]


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On the Transfer of Inductive Bias from Simulation to the Real World: a New Disentanglement Dataset

Gondal, M. W., Wuthrich, M., Miladinovic, D., Locatello, F., Breidt, M., Volchkov, V., Akpo, J., Bachem, O., Schölkopf, B., Bauer, S.

Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32, pages: 15714-15725, (Editors: H. Wallach and H. Larochelle and A. Beygelzimer and F. d’Alché-Buc and E. Fox and R. Garnett), Curran Associates, Inc., 33rd Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, December 2019 (conference)

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


Attacking Optical Flow
Attacking Optical Flow

Ranjan, A., Janai, J., Geiger, A., Black, M. J.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, November 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Deep neural nets achieve state-of-the-art performance on the problem of optical flow estimation. Since optical flow is used in several safety-critical applications like self-driving cars, it is important to gain insights into the robustness of those techniques. Recently, it has been shown that adversarial attacks easily fool deep neural networks to misclassify objects. The robustness of optical flow networks to adversarial attacks, however, has not been studied so far. In this paper, we extend adversarial patch attacks to optical flow networks and show that such attacks can compromise their performance. We show that corrupting a small patch of less than 1% of the image size can significantly affect optical flow estimates. Our attacks lead to noisy flow estimates that extend significantly beyond the region of the attack, in many cases even completely erasing the motion of objects in the scene. While networks using an encoder-decoder architecture are very sensitive to these attacks, we found that networks using a spatial pyramid architecture are less affected. We analyse the success and failure of attacking both architectures by visualizing their feature maps and comparing them to classical optical flow techniques which are robust to these attacks. We also demonstrate that such attacks are practical by placing a printed pattern into real scenes.

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Video Project Page Paper Supplementary Material link (url) [BibTex]

Video Project Page Paper Supplementary Material link (url) [BibTex]


Decoding subcategories of human bodies from both body- and face-responsive cortical regions
Decoding subcategories of human bodies from both body- and face-responsive cortical regions

Foster, C., Zhao, M., Romero, J., Black, M. J., Mohler, B. J., Bartels, A., Bülthoff, I.

NeuroImage, 202(15):116085, November 2019 (article)

Abstract
Our visual system can easily categorize objects (e.g. faces vs. bodies) and further differentiate them into subcategories (e.g. male vs. female). This ability is particularly important for objects of social significance, such as human faces and bodies. While many studies have demonstrated category selectivity to faces and bodies in the brain, how subcategories of faces and bodies are represented remains unclear. Here, we investigated how the brain encodes two prominent subcategories shared by both faces and bodies, sex and weight, and whether neural responses to these subcategories rely on low-level visual, high-level visual or semantic similarity. We recorded brain activity with fMRI while participants viewed faces and bodies that varied in sex, weight, and image size. The results showed that the sex of bodies can be decoded from both body- and face-responsive brain areas, with the former exhibiting more consistent size-invariant decoding than the latter. Body weight could also be decoded in face-responsive areas and in distributed body-responsive areas, and this decoding was also invariant to image size. The weight of faces could be decoded from the fusiform body area (FBA), and weight could be decoded across face and body stimuli in the extrastriate body area (EBA) and a distributed body-responsive area. The sex of well-controlled faces (e.g. excluding hairstyles) could not be decoded from face- or body-responsive regions. These results demonstrate that both face- and body-responsive brain regions encode information that can distinguish the sex and weight of bodies. Moreover, the neural patterns corresponding to sex and weight were invariant to image size and could sometimes generalize across face and body stimuli, suggesting that such subcategorical information is encoded with a high-level visual or semantic code.

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paper pdf DOI [BibTex]

paper pdf DOI [BibTex]


AirCap -- Aerial Outdoor Motion Capture
AirCap – Aerial Outdoor Motion Capture

Ahmad, A., Price, E., Tallamraju, R., Saini, N., Lawless, G., Ludwig, R., Martinovic, I., Bülthoff, H. H., Black, M. J.

IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2019), Workshop on Aerial Swarms, November 2019 (misc)

Abstract
This paper presents an overview of the Grassroots project Aerial Outdoor Motion Capture (AirCap) running at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. AirCap's goal is to achieve markerless, unconstrained, human motion capture (mocap) in unknown and unstructured outdoor environments. To that end, we have developed an autonomous flying motion capture system using a team of aerial vehicles (MAVs) with only on-board, monocular RGB cameras. We have conducted several real robot experiments involving up to 3 aerial vehicles autonomously tracking and following a person in several challenging scenarios using our approach of active cooperative perception developed in AirCap. Using the images captured by these robots during the experiments, we have demonstrated a successful offline body pose and shape estimation with sufficiently high accuracy. Overall, we have demonstrated the first fully autonomous flying motion capture system involving multiple robots for outdoor scenarios.

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Talk slides Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

Talk slides Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Learning to Reconstruct {3D} Human Pose and Shape via Model-fitting in the Loop
Learning to Reconstruct 3D Human Pose and Shape via Model-fitting in the Loop

Kolotouros, N., Pavlakos, G., Black, M. J., Daniilidis, K.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Model-based human pose estimation is currently approached through two different paradigms. Optimization-based methods fit a parametric body model to 2D observations in an iterative manner, leading to accurate image-model alignments, but are often slow and sensitive to the initialization. In contrast, regression-based methods, that use a deep network to directly estimate the model parameters from pixels, tend to provide reasonable, but not pixel accurate, results while requiring huge amounts of supervision. In this work, instead of investigating which approach is better, our key insight is that the two paradigms can form a strong collaboration. A reasonable, directly regressed estimate from the network can initialize the iterative optimization making the fitting faster and more accurate. Similarly, a pixel accurate fit from iterative optimization can act as strong supervision for the network. This is the core of our proposed approach SPIN (SMPL oPtimization IN the loop). The deep network initializes an iterative optimization routine that fits the body model to 2D joints within the training loop, and the fitted estimate is subsequently used to supervise the network. Our approach is self-improving by nature, since better network estimates can lead the optimization to better solutions, while more accurate optimization fits provide better supervision for the network. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach in different settings, where 3D ground truth is scarce, or not available, and we consistently outperform the state-of-the-art model-based pose estimation approaches by significant margins.

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pdf code project [BibTex]

pdf code project [BibTex]


Resolving {3D} Human Pose Ambiguities with {3D} Scene Constraints
Resolving 3D Human Pose Ambiguities with 3D Scene Constraints

Hassan, M., Choutas, V., Tzionas, D., Black, M. J.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, pages: 2282-2292, October 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
To understand and analyze human behavior, we need to capture humans moving in, and interacting with, the world. Most existing methods perform 3D human pose estimation without explicitly considering the scene. We observe however that the world constrains the body and vice-versa. To motivate this, we show that current 3D human pose estimation methods produce results that are not consistent with the 3D scene. Our key contribution is to exploit static 3D scene structure to better estimate human pose from monocular images. The method enforces Proximal Relationships with Object eXclusion and is called PROX. To test this, we collect a new dataset composed of 12 different 3D scenes and RGB sequences of 20 subjects moving in and interacting with the scenes. We represent human pose using the 3D human body model SMPL-X and extend SMPLify-X to estimate body pose using scene constraints. We make use of the 3D scene information by formulating two main constraints. The interpenetration constraint penalizes intersection between the body model and the surrounding 3D scene. The contact constraint encourages specific parts of the body to be in contact with scene surfaces if they are close enough in distance and orientation. For quantitative evaluation we capture a separate dataset with 180 RGB frames in which the ground-truth body pose is estimated using a motion-capture system. We show quantitatively that introducing scene constraints significantly reduces 3D joint error and vertex error. Our code and data are available for research at https://prox.is.tue.mpg.de.

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pdf poster link (url) DOI [BibTex]

pdf poster link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Three-D Safari: Learning to Estimate Zebra Pose, Shape, and Texture from Images "In the Wild"
Three-D Safari: Learning to Estimate Zebra Pose, Shape, and Texture from Images "In the Wild"

Zuffi, S., Kanazawa, A., Berger-Wolf, T., Black, M. J.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present the first method to perform automatic 3D pose, shape and texture capture of animals from images acquired in-the-wild. In particular, we focus on the problem of capturing 3D information about Grevy's zebras from a collection of images. The Grevy's zebra is one of the most endangered species in Africa, with only a few thousand individuals left. Capturing the shape and pose of these animals can provide biologists and conservationists with information about animal health and behavior. In contrast to research on human pose, shape and texture estimation, training data for endangered species is limited, the animals are in complex natural scenes with occlusion, they are naturally camouflaged, travel in herds, and look similar to each other. To overcome these challenges, we integrate the recent SMAL animal model into a network-based regression pipeline, which we train end-to-end on synthetically generated images with pose, shape, and background variation. Going beyond state-of-the-art methods for human shape and pose estimation, our method learns a shape space for zebras during training. Learning such a shape space from images using only a photometric loss is novel, and the approach can be used to learn shape in other settings with limited 3D supervision. Moreover, we couple 3D pose and shape prediction with the task of texture synthesis, obtaining a full texture map of the animal from a single image. We show that the predicted texture map allows a novel per-instance unsupervised optimization over the network features. This method, SMALST (SMAL with learned Shape and Texture) goes beyond previous work, which assumed manual keypoints and/or segmentation, to regress directly from pixels to 3D animal shape, pose and texture. Code and data are available at https://github.com/silviazuffi/smalst

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code pdf supmat iccv19 presentation Project Page [BibTex]


End-to-end Learning for Graph Decomposition
End-to-end Learning for Graph Decomposition

Song, J., Andres, B., Black, M., Hilliges, O., Tang, S.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Deep neural networks provide powerful tools for pattern recognition, while classical graph algorithms are widely used to solve combinatorial problems. In computer vision, many tasks combine elements of both pattern recognition and graph reasoning. In this paper, we study how to connect deep networks with graph decomposition into an end-to-end trainable framework. More specifically, the minimum cost multicut problem is first converted to an unconstrained binary cubic formulation where cycle consistency constraints are incorporated into the objective function. The new optimization problem can be viewed as a Conditional Random Field (CRF) in which the random variables are associated with the binary edge labels. Cycle constraints are introduced into the CRF as high-order potentials. A standard Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) provides the front-end features for the fully differentiable CRF. The parameters of both parts are optimized in an end-to-end manner. The efficacy of the proposed learning algorithm is demonstrated via experiments on clustering MNIST images and on the challenging task of real-world multi-people pose estimation.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


Markerless Outdoor Human Motion Capture Using Multiple Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicles
Markerless Outdoor Human Motion Capture Using Multiple Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicles

Saini, N., Price, E., Tallamraju, R., Enficiaud, R., Ludwig, R., Martinović, I., Ahmad, A., Black, M.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings) Accepted

Abstract
Capturing human motion in natural scenarios means moving motion capture out of the lab and into the wild. Typical approaches rely on fixed, calibrated, cameras and reflective markers on the body, significantly limiting the motions that can be captured. To make motion capture truly unconstrained, we describe the first fully autonomous outdoor capture system based on flying vehicles. We use multiple micro-aerial-vehicles(MAVs), each equipped with a monocular RGB camera, an IMU, and a GPS receiver module. These detect the person, optimize their position, and localize themselves approximately. We then develop a markerless motion capture method that is suitable for this challenging scenario with a distant subject, viewed from above, with approximately calibrated and moving cameras. We combine multiple state-of-the-art 2D joint detectors with a 3D human body model and a powerful prior on human pose. We jointly optimize for 3D body pose and camera pose to robustly fit the 2D measurements. To our knowledge, this is the first successful demonstration of outdoor, full-body, markerless motion capture from autonomous flying vehicles.

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Code Data Video Paper Manuscript Project Page [BibTex]


Active Perception based Formation Control for Multiple Aerial Vehicles
Active Perception based Formation Control for Multiple Aerial Vehicles

Tallamraju, R., Price, E., Ludwig, R., Karlapalem, K., Bülthoff, H. H., Black, M. J., Ahmad, A.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Robotics and Automation Letters, 4(4):4491-4498, IEEE, October 2019 (article)

Abstract
We present a novel robotic front-end for autonomous aerial motion-capture (mocap) in outdoor environments. In previous work, we presented an approach for cooperative detection and tracking (CDT) of a subject using multiple micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs). However, it did not ensure optimal view-point configurations of the MAVs to minimize the uncertainty in the person's cooperatively tracked 3D position estimate. In this article, we introduce an active approach for CDT. In contrast to cooperatively tracking only the 3D positions of the person, the MAVs can actively compute optimal local motion plans, resulting in optimal view-point configurations, which minimize the uncertainty in the tracked estimate. We achieve this by decoupling the goal of active tracking into a quadratic objective and non-convex constraints corresponding to angular configurations of the MAVs w.r.t. the person. We derive this decoupling using Gaussian observation model assumptions within the CDT algorithm. We preserve convexity in optimization by embedding all the non-convex constraints, including those for dynamic obstacle avoidance, as external control inputs in the MPC dynamics. Multiple real robot experiments and comparisons involving 3 MAVs in several challenging scenarios are presented.

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


{AMASS}: Archive of Motion Capture as Surface Shapes
AMASS: Archive of Motion Capture as Surface Shapes

Mahmood, N., Ghorbani, N., Troje, N. F., Pons-Moll, G., Black, M. J.

International Conference on Computer Vision, pages: 5442-5451, October 2019 (conference)

Abstract
Large datasets are the cornerstone of recent advances in computer vision using deep learning. In contrast, existing human motion capture (mocap) datasets are small and the motions limited, hampering progress on learning models of human motion. While there are many different datasets available, they each use a different parameterization of the body, making it difficult to integrate them into a single meta dataset. To address this, we introduce AMASS, a large and varied database of human motion that unifies 15 different optical marker-based mocap datasets by representing them within a common framework and parameterization. We achieve this using a new method, MoSh++, that converts mocap data into realistic 3D human meshes represented by a rigged body model. Here we use SMPL [26], which is widely used and provides a standard skeletal representation as well as a fully rigged surface mesh. The method works for arbitrary marker-sets, while recovering soft-tissue dynamics and realistic hand motion. We evaluate MoSh++ and tune its hyper-parameters using a new dataset of 4D body scans that are jointly recorded with marker-based mocap. The consistent representation of AMASS makes it readily useful for animation, visualization, and generating training data for deep learning. Our dataset is significantly richer than previous human motion collections, having more than 40 hours of motion data, spanning over 300 subjects, more than 11000 motions, and is available for research at https://amass.is.tue.mpg.de/.

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code pdf suppl arxiv project website video poster AMASS_Poster [BibTex]


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Energy Conscious Over-actuated Multi-Agent Payload Transport Robot: Simulations and Preliminary Physical Validation

Tallamraju, R., Verma, P., Sripada, V., Agrawal, S., Karlapalem, K.

28th IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), pages: 1-7, IEEE, October 2019 (conference)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Method for providing a three dimensional body model
Method for providing a three dimensional body model

Loper, M., Mahmood, N., Black, M.

September 2019, U.S.~Patent 10,417,818 (misc)

Abstract
A method for providing a three-dimensional body model which may be applied for an animation, based on a moving body, wherein the method comprises providing a parametric three-dimensional body model, which allows shape and pose variations; applying a standard set of body markers; optimizing the set of body markers by generating an additional set of body markers and applying the same for providing 3D coordinate marker signals for capturing shape and pose of the body and dynamics of soft tissue; and automatically providing an animation by processing the 3D coordinate marker signals in order to provide a personalized three-dimensional body model, based on estimated shape and an estimated pose of the body by means of predicted marker locations.

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MoSh Project pdf [BibTex]


The Influence of Visual Perspective on Body Size Estimation in Immersive Virtual Reality
The Influence of Visual Perspective on Body Size Estimation in Immersive Virtual Reality

Thaler, A., Pujades, S., Stefanucci, J. K., Creem-Regehr, S. H., Tesch, J., Black, M. J., Mohler, B. J.

In ACM Symposium on Applied Perception, September 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The creation of realistic self-avatars that users identify with is important for many virtual reality applications. However, current approaches for creating biometrically plausible avatars that represent a particular individual require expertise and are time-consuming. We investigated the visual perception of an avatar’s body dimensions by asking males and females to estimate their own body weight and shape on a virtual body using a virtual reality avatar creation tool. In a method of adjustment task, the virtual body was presented in an HTC Vive head-mounted display either co-located with (first-person perspective) or facing (third-person perspective) the participants. Participants adjusted the body weight and dimensions of various body parts to match their own body shape and size. Both males and females underestimated their weight by 10-20% in the virtual body, but the estimates of the other body dimensions were relatively accurate and within a range of ±6%. There was a stronger influence of visual perspective on the estimates for males, but this effect was dependent on the amount of control over the shape of the virtual body, indicating that the results might be caused by where in the body the weight changes expressed themselves. These results suggest that this avatar creation tool could be used to allow participants to make a relatively accurate self-avatar in terms of adjusting body part dimensions, but not weight, and that the influence of visual perspective and amount of control needed over the body shape are likely gender-specific.

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


Learning to Train with Synthetic Humans
Learning to Train with Synthetic Humans

Hoffmann, D. T., Tzionas, D., Black, M. J., Tang, S.

In German Conference on Pattern Recognition (GCPR), September 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Neural networks need big annotated datasets for training. However, manual annotation can be too expensive or even unfeasible for certain tasks, like multi-person 2D pose estimation with severe occlusions. A remedy for this is synthetic data with perfect ground truth. Here we explore two variations of synthetic data for this challenging problem; a dataset with purely synthetic humans, as well as a real dataset augmented with synthetic humans. We then study which approach better generalizes to real data, as well as the influence of virtual humans in the training loss. We observe that not all synthetic samples are equally informative for training, while the informative samples are different for each training stage. To exploit this observation, we employ an adversarial student-teacher framework; the teacher improves the student by providing the hardest samples for its current state as a challenge. Experiments show that this student-teacher framework outperforms all our baselines.

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pdf suppl poster link (url) DOI [BibTex]

pdf suppl poster link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Motion Planning for Multi-Mobile-Manipulator Payload Transport Systems
Motion Planning for Multi-Mobile-Manipulator Payload Transport Systems

Tallamraju, R., Salunkhe, D., Rajappa, S., Ahmad, A., Karlapalem, K., Shah, S. V.

In 15th IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering, IEEE, August 2019 (inproceedings) Accepted

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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

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

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

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

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

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


Local Temporal Bilinear Pooling for Fine-grained Action Parsing
Local Temporal Bilinear Pooling for Fine-grained Action Parsing

Zhang, Y., Tang, S., Muandet, K., Jarvers, C., Neumann, H.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Fine-grained temporal action parsing is important in many applications, such as daily activity understanding, human motion analysis, surgical robotics and others requiring subtle and precise operations in a long-term period. In this paper we propose a novel bilinear pooling operation, which is used in intermediate layers of a temporal convolutional encoder-decoder net. In contrast to other work, our proposed bilinear pooling is learnable and hence can capture more complex local statistics than the conventional counterpart. In addition, we introduce exact lower-dimension representations of our bilinear forms, so that the dimensionality is reduced with neither information loss nor extra computation. We perform intensive experiments to quantitatively analyze our model and show the superior performances to other state-of-the-art work on various datasets.

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Code video demo pdf link (url) [BibTex]

Code video demo pdf link (url) [BibTex]


Learning to Regress 3D Face Shape and Expression from an Image without 3D Supervision
Learning to Regress 3D Face Shape and Expression from an Image without 3D Supervision

Sanyal, S., Bolkart, T., Feng, H., Black, M. J.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 7763-7772, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The estimation of 3D face shape from a single image must be robust to variations in lighting, head pose, expression, facial hair, makeup, and occlusions. Robustness requires a large training set of in-the-wild images, which by construction, lack ground truth 3D shape. To train a network without any 2D-to-3D supervision, we present RingNet, which learns to compute 3D face shape from a single image. Our key observation is that an individual’s face shape is constant across images, regardless of expression, pose, lighting, etc. RingNet leverages multiple images of a person and automatically detected 2D face features. It uses a novel loss that encourages the face shape to be similar when the identity is the same and different for different people. We achieve invariance to expression by representing the face using the FLAME model. Once trained, our method takes a single image and outputs the parameters of FLAME, which can be readily animated. Additionally we create a new database of faces “not quite in-the-wild” (NoW) with 3D head scans and high-resolution images of the subjects in a wide variety of conditions. We evaluate publicly available methods and find that RingNet is more accurate than methods that use 3D supervision. The dataset, model, and results are available for research purposes.

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code pdf preprint link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

code pdf preprint link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


Learning Joint Reconstruction of Hands and Manipulated Objects
Learning Joint Reconstruction of Hands and Manipulated Objects

Hasson, Y., Varol, G., Tzionas, D., Kalevatykh, I., Black, M. J., Laptev, I., Schmid, C.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 11807-11816, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Estimating hand-object manipulations is essential for interpreting and imitating human actions. Previous work has made significant progress towards reconstruction of hand poses and object shapes in isolation. Yet, reconstructing hands and objects during manipulation is a more challenging task due to significant occlusions of both the hand and object. While presenting challenges, manipulations may also simplify the problem since the physics of contact restricts the space of valid hand-object configurations. For example, during manipulation, the hand and object should be in contact but not interpenetrate. In this work, we regularize the joint reconstruction of hands and objects with manipulation constraints. We present an end-to-end learnable model that exploits a novel contact loss that favors physically plausible hand-object constellations. Our approach improves grasp quality metrics over baselines, using RGB images as input. To train and evaluate the model, we also propose a new large-scale synthetic dataset, ObMan, with hand-object manipulations. We demonstrate the transferability of ObMan-trained models to real data.

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pdf suppl poster link (url) DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppl poster link (url) DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Expressive Body Capture: 3D Hands, Face, and Body from a Single Image
Expressive Body Capture: 3D Hands, Face, and Body from a Single Image

Pavlakos, G., Choutas, V., Ghorbani, N., Bolkart, T., Osman, A. A. A., Tzionas, D., Black, M. J.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 10975-10985, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
To facilitate the analysis of human actions, interactions and emotions, we compute a 3D model of human body pose, hand pose, and facial expression from a single monocular image. To achieve this, we use thousands of 3D scans to train a new, unified, 3D model of the human body, SMPL-X, that extends SMPL with fully articulated hands and an expressive face. Learning to regress the parameters of SMPL-X directly from images is challenging without paired images and 3D ground truth. Consequently, we follow the approach of SMPLify, which estimates 2D features and then optimizes model parameters to fit the features. We improve on SMPLify in several significant ways: (1) we detect 2D features corresponding to the face, hands, and feet and fit the full SMPL-X model to these; (2) we train a new neural network pose prior using a large MoCap dataset; (3) we define a new interpenetration penalty that is both fast and accurate; (4) we automatically detect gender and the appropriate body models (male, female, or neutral); (5) our PyTorch implementation achieves a speedup of more than 8x over Chumpy. We use the new method, SMPLify-X, to fit SMPL-X to both controlled images and images in the wild. We evaluate 3D accuracy on a new curated dataset comprising 100 images with pseudo ground-truth. This is a step towards automatic expressive human capture from monocular RGB data. The models, code, and data are available for research purposes at https://smpl-x.is.tue.mpg.de.

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video code pdf suppl poster link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

video code pdf suppl poster link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Capture, Learning, and Synthesis of 3D Speaking Styles
Capture, Learning, and Synthesis of 3D Speaking Styles

Cudeiro, D., Bolkart, T., Laidlaw, C., Ranjan, A., Black, M. J.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 10101-10111, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Audio-driven 3D facial animation has been widely explored, but achieving realistic, human-like performance is still unsolved. This is due to the lack of available 3D datasets, models, and standard evaluation metrics. To address this, we introduce a unique 4D face dataset with about 29 minutes of 4D scans captured at 60 fps and synchronized audio from 12 speakers. We then train a neural network on our dataset that factors identity from facial motion. The learned model, VOCA (Voice Operated Character Animation) takes any speech signal as input—even speech in languages other than English—and realistically animates a wide range of adult faces. Conditioning on subject labels during training allows the model to learn a variety of realistic speaking styles. VOCA also provides animator controls to alter speaking style, identity-dependent facial shape, and pose (i.e. head, jaw, and eyeball rotations) during animation. To our knowledge, VOCA is the only realistic 3D facial animation model that is readily applicable to unseen subjects without retargeting. This makes VOCA suitable for tasks like in-game video, virtual reality avatars, or any scenario in which the speaker, speech, or language is not known in advance. We make the dataset and model available for research purposes at http://voca.is.tue.mpg.de.

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code Project Page video paper [BibTex]

code Project Page video paper [BibTex]


Learning and Tracking the {3D} Body Shape of Freely Moving Infants from {RGB-D} sequences
Learning and Tracking the 3D Body Shape of Freely Moving Infants from RGB-D sequences

Hesse, N., Pujades, S., Black, M., Arens, M., Hofmann, U., Schroeder, S.

Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (TPAMI), 2019 (article)

Abstract
Statistical models of the human body surface are generally learned from thousands of high-quality 3D scans in predefined poses to cover the wide variety of human body shapes and articulations. Acquisition of such data requires expensive equipment, calibration procedures, and is limited to cooperative subjects who can understand and follow instructions, such as adults. We present a method for learning a statistical 3D Skinned Multi-Infant Linear body model (SMIL) from incomplete, low-quality RGB-D sequences of freely moving infants. Quantitative experiments show that SMIL faithfully represents the RGB-D data and properly factorizes the shape and pose of the infants. To demonstrate the applicability of SMIL, we fit the model to RGB-D sequences of freely moving infants and show, with a case study, that our method captures enough motion detail for General Movements Assessment (GMA), a method used in clinical practice for early detection of neurodevelopmental disorders in infants. SMIL provides a new tool for analyzing infant shape and movement and is a step towards an automated system for GMA.

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pdf Journal DOI [BibTex]

pdf Journal DOI [BibTex]


Accurate Vision-based Manipulation through Contact Reasoning
Accurate Vision-based Manipulation through Contact Reasoning

Kloss, A., Bauza, M., Wu, J., Tenenbaum, J. B., Rodriguez, A., Bohg, J.

In International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2019 (inproceedings) Accepted

Abstract
Planning contact interactions is one of the core challenges of many robotic tasks. Optimizing contact locations while taking dynamics into account is computationally costly and in only partially observed environments, executing contact-based tasks often suffers from low accuracy. We present an approach that addresses these two challenges for the problem of vision-based manipulation. First, we propose to disentangle contact from motion optimization. Thereby, we improve planning efficiency by focusing computation on promising contact locations. Second, we use a hybrid approach for perception and state estimation that combines neural networks with a physically meaningful state representation. In simulation and real-world experiments on the task of planar pushing, we show that our method is more efficient and achieves a higher manipulation accuracy than previous vision-based approaches.

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Video link (url) [BibTex]

Video link (url) [BibTex]


Learning Latent Space Dynamics for Tactile Servoing
Learning Latent Space Dynamics for Tactile Servoing

Sutanto, G., Ratliff, N., Sundaralingam, B., Chebotar, Y., Su, Z., Handa, A., Fox, D.

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

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pdf video [BibTex]

pdf video [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]


no image
Distributed, Collaborative Virtual Reality Application for Product Development with Simple Avatar Calibration Method

Dixken, M., Diers, D., Wingert, B., Hatzipanayioti, A., Mohler, B. J., Riedel, O., Bues, M.

IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces, (VR), pages: 1299-1300, IEEE, March 2019 (conference)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


 Perceptual Effects of Inconsistency in Human Animations
Perceptual Effects of Inconsistency in Human Animations

Kenny, S., Mahmood, N., Honda, C., Black, M. J., Troje, N. F.

ACM Trans. Appl. Percept., 16(1):2:1-2:18, Febuary 2019 (article)

Abstract
The individual shape of the human body, including the geometry of its articulated structure and the distribution of weight over that structure, influences the kinematics of a person’s movements. How sensitive is the visual system to inconsistencies between shape and motion introduced by retargeting motion from one person onto the shape of another? We used optical motion capture to record five pairs of male performers with large differences in body weight, while they pushed, lifted, and threw objects. From these data, we estimated both the kinematics of the actions as well as the performer’s individual body shape. To obtain consistent and inconsistent stimuli, we created animated avatars by combining the shape and motion estimates from either a single performer or from different performers. Using these stimuli we conducted three experiments in an immersive virtual reality environment. First, a group of participants detected which of two stimuli was inconsistent. Performance was very low, and results were only marginally significant. Next, a second group of participants rated perceived attractiveness, eeriness, and humanness of consistent and inconsistent stimuli, but these judgements of animation characteristics were not affected by consistency of the stimuli. Finally, a third group of participants rated properties of the objects rather than of the performers. Here, we found strong influences of shape-motion inconsistency on perceived weight and thrown distance of objects. This suggests that the visual system relies on its knowledge of shape and motion and that these components are assimilated into an altered perception of the action outcome. We propose that the visual system attempts to resist inconsistent interpretations of human animations. Actions involving object manipulations present an opportunity for the visual system to reinterpret the introduced inconsistencies as a change in the dynamics of an object rather than as an unexpected combination of body shape and body motion.

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publisher pdf DOI [BibTex]

publisher pdf DOI [BibTex]


Perceiving Systems (2016-2018)
Perceiving Systems (2016-2018)
Scientific Advisory Board Report, 2019 (misc)

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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Statistical Coverage Control of Mobile Sensor Networks

Arslan, Ö.

IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 35(4):889-908, 2019 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


The Virtual Caliper: Rapid Creation of Metrically Accurate Avatars from {3D} Measurements
The Virtual Caliper: Rapid Creation of Metrically Accurate Avatars from 3D Measurements

Pujades, S., Mohler, B., Thaler, A., Tesch, J., Mahmood, N., Hesse, N., Bülthoff, H. H., Black, M. J.

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 25, pages: 1887,1897, IEEE, 2019 (article)

Abstract
Creating metrically accurate avatars is important for many applications such as virtual clothing try-on, ergonomics, medicine, immersive social media, telepresence, and gaming. Creating avatars that precisely represent a particular individual is challenging however, due to the need for expensive 3D scanners, privacy issues with photographs or videos, and difficulty in making accurate tailoring measurements. We overcome these challenges by creating “The Virtual Caliper”, which uses VR game controllers to make simple measurements. First, we establish what body measurements users can reliably make on their own body. We find several distance measurements to be good candidates and then verify that these are linearly related to 3D body shape as represented by the SMPL body model. The Virtual Caliper enables novice users to accurately measure themselves and create an avatar with their own body shape. We evaluate the metric accuracy relative to ground truth 3D body scan data, compare the method quantitatively to other avatar creation tools, and perform extensive perceptual studies. We also provide a software application to the community that enables novices to rapidly create avatars in fewer than five minutes. Not only is our approach more rapid than existing methods, it exports a metrically accurate 3D avatar model that is rigged and skinned.

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Project Page IEEE Open Access IEEE Open Access PDF DOI [BibTex]

Project Page IEEE Open Access IEEE Open Access PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Self and Body Part Localization in Virtual Reality: Comparing a Headset and a Large-Screen Immersive Display

van der Veer, A. H., Longo, M. R., Alsmith, A. J. T., Wong, H. Y., Mohler, B. J.

Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 6(33), 2019 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Resisting Adversarial Attacks using Gaussian Mixture Variational Autoencoders
Resisting Adversarial Attacks using Gaussian Mixture Variational Autoencoders

Ghosh, P., Losalka, A., Black, M. J.

In Proc. AAAI, 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Susceptibility of deep neural networks to adversarial attacks poses a major theoretical and practical challenge. All efforts to harden classifiers against such attacks have seen limited success till now. Two distinct categories of samples against which deep neural networks are vulnerable, ``adversarial samples" and ``fooling samples", have been tackled separately so far due to the difficulty posed when considered together. In this work, we show how one can defend against them both under a unified framework. Our model has the form of a variational autoencoder with a Gaussian mixture prior on the latent variable, such that each mixture component corresponds to a single class. We show how selective classification can be performed using this model, thereby causing the adversarial objective to entail a conflict. The proposed method leads to the rejection of adversarial samples instead of misclassification, while maintaining high precision and recall on test data. It also inherently provides a way of learning a selective classifier in a semi-supervised scenario, which can similarly resist adversarial attacks. We further show how one can reclassify the detected adversarial samples by iterative optimization.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

2010


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Reinforcement learning of full-body humanoid motor skills

Stulp, F., Buchli, J., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In Humanoid Robots (Humanoids), 2010 10th IEEE-RAS International Conference on, pages: 405-410, December 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Applying reinforcement learning to humanoid robots is challenging because humanoids have a large number of degrees of freedom and state and action spaces are continuous. Thus, most reinforcement learning algorithms would become computationally infeasible and require a prohibitive amount of trials to explore such high-dimensional spaces. In this paper, we present a probabilistic reinforcement learning approach, which is derived from the framework of stochastic optimal control and path integrals. The algorithm, called Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2), has a surprisingly simple form, has no open tuning parameters besides the exploration noise, is model-free, and performs numerically robustly in high dimensional learning problems. We demonstrate how PI2 is able to learn full-body motor skills on a 34-DOF humanoid robot. To demonstrate the generality of our approach, we also apply PI2 in the context of variable impedance control, where both planned trajectories and gain schedules for each joint are optimized simultaneously.

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link (url) [BibTex]

2010


link (url) [BibTex]


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Relative Entropy Policy Search

Peters, J., Mülling, K., Altun, Y.

In Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, pages: 1607-1612, (Editors: Fox, M. , D. Poole), AAAI Press, Menlo Park, CA, USA, Twenty-Fourth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-10), July 2010 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Policy search is a successful approach to reinforcement learning. However, policy improvements often result in the loss of information. Hence, it has been marred by premature convergence and implausible solutions. As first suggested in the context of covariant policy gradients (Bagnell and Schneider 2003), many of these problems may be addressed by constraining the information loss. In this paper, we continue this path of reasoning and suggest the Relative Entropy Policy Search (REPS) method. The resulting method differs significantly from previous policy gradient approaches and yields an exact update step. It works well on typical reinforcement learning benchmark problems.

am ei

PDF Web [BibTex]

PDF Web [BibTex]


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Reinforcement learning of motor skills in high dimensions: A path integral approach

Theodorou, E., Buchli, J., Schaal, S.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2397-2403, May 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Reinforcement learning (RL) is one of the most general approaches to learning control. Its applicability to complex motor systems, however, has been largely impossible so far due to the computational difficulties that reinforcement learning encounters in high dimensional continuous state-action spaces. In this paper, we derive a novel approach to RL for parameterized control policies based on the framework of stochastic optimal control with path integrals. While solidly grounded in optimal control theory and estimation theory, the update equations for learning are surprisingly simple and have no danger of numerical instabilities as neither matrix inversions nor gradient learning rates are required. Empirical evaluations demonstrate significant performance improvements over gradient-based policy learning and scalability to high-dimensional control problems. Finally, a learning experiment on a robot dog illustrates the functionality of our algorithm in a real-world scenario. We believe that our new algorithm, Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2), offers currently one of the most efficient, numerically robust, and easy to implement algorithms for RL in robotics.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Inverse dynamics control of floating base systems using orthogonal decomposition

Mistry, M., Buchli, J., Schaal, S.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 3406-3412, May 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Model-based control methods can be used to enable fast, dexterous, and compliant motion of robots without sacrificing control accuracy. However, implementing such techniques on floating base robots, e.g., humanoids and legged systems, is non-trivial due to under-actuation, dynamically changing constraints from the environment, and potentially closed loop kinematics. In this paper, we show how to compute the analytically correct inverse dynamics torques for model-based control of sufficiently constrained floating base rigid-body systems, such as humanoid robots with one or two feet in contact with the environment. While our previous inverse dynamics approach relied on an estimation of contact forces to compute an approximate inverse dynamics solution, here we present an analytically correct solution by using an orthogonal decomposition to project the robot dynamics onto a reduced dimensional space, independent of contact forces. We demonstrate the feasibility and robustness of our approach on a simulated floating base bipedal humanoid robot and an actual robot dog locomoting over rough terrain.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Fast, robust quadruped locomotion over challenging terrain

Kalakrishnan, M., Buchli, J., Pastor, P., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2665-2670, May 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present a control architecture for fast quadruped locomotion over rough terrain. We approach the problem by decomposing it into many sub-systems, in which we apply state-of-the-art learning, planning, optimization and control techniques to achieve robust, fast locomotion. Unique features of our control strategy include: (1) a system that learns optimal foothold choices from expert demonstration using terrain templates, (2) a body trajectory optimizer based on the Zero-Moment Point (ZMP) stability criterion, and (3) a floating-base inverse dynamics controller that, in conjunction with force control, allows for robust, compliant locomotion over unperceived obstacles. We evaluate the performance of our controller by testing it on the LittleDog quadruped robot, over a wide variety of rough terrain of varying difficulty levels. We demonstrate the generalization ability of this controller by presenting test results from an independent external test team on terrains that have never been shown to us.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Policy learning algorithmis for motor learning (Algorithmen zum automatischen Erlernen von Motorfähigkigkeiten)

Peters, J., Kober, J., Schaal, S.

Automatisierungstechnik, 58(12):688-694, 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
Robot learning methods which allow au- tonomous robots to adapt to novel situations have been a long standing vision of robotics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive sciences. However, to date, learning techniques have yet to ful- fill this promise as only few methods manage to scale into the high-dimensional domains of manipulator robotics, or even the new upcoming trend of humanoid robotics. If possible, scaling was usually only achieved in precisely pre-structured domains. In this paper, we investigate the ingredients for a general ap- proach policy learning with the goal of an application to motor skill refinement in order to get one step closer towards human- like performance. For doing so, we study two major components for such an approach, i. e., firstly, we study policy learning algo- rithms which can be applied in the general setting of motor skill learning, and, secondly, we study a theoretically well-founded general approach to representing the required control structu- res for task representation and execution.

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link (url) [BibTex]


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A Bayesian approach to nonlinear parameter identification for rigid-body dynamics

Ting, J., DSouza, A., Schaal, S.

Neural Networks, 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
For complex robots such as humanoids, model-based control is highly beneficial for accurate tracking while keeping negative feedback gains low for compliance. However, in such multi degree-of-freedom lightweight systems, conventional identification of rigid body dynamics models using CAD data and actuator models is inaccurate due to unknown nonlinear robot dynamic effects. An alternative method is data-driven parameter estimation, but significant noise in measured and inferred variables affects it adversely. Moreover, standard estimation procedures may give physically inconsistent results due to unmodeled nonlinearities or insufficiently rich data. This paper addresses these problems, proposing a Bayesian system identification technique for linear or piecewise linear systems. Inspired by Factor Analysis regression, we develop a computationally efficient variational Bayesian regression algorithm that is robust to ill-conditioned data, automatically detects relevant features, and identifies input and output noise. We evaluate our approach on rigid body parameter estimation for various robotic systems, achieving an error of up to three times lower than other state-of-the-art machine learning methods.

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link (url) [BibTex]


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A first optimal control solution for a complex, nonlinear, tendon driven neuromuscular finger model

Theodorou, E. A., Todorov, E., Valero-Cuevas, F.

Proceedings of the ASME 2010 Summer Bioengineering Conference August 30-September 2, 2010, Naples, Florida, USA, 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
In this work we present the first constrained stochastic op- timal feedback controller applied to a fully nonlinear, tendon driven index finger model. Our model also takes into account an extensor mechanism, and muscle force-length and force-velocity properties. We show this feedback controller is robust to noise and perturbations to the dynamics, while successfully handling the nonlinearities and high dimensionality of the system. By ex- tending prior methods, we are able to approximate physiological realism by ensuring positivity of neural commands and tendon tensions at all timesthus can, for the first time, use the optimal control framework to predict biologically plausible tendon tensions for a nonlinear neuromuscular finger model. METHODS 1 Muscle Model The rigid-body triple pendulum finger model with slightly viscous joints is actuated by Hill-type muscle models. Joint torques are generated by the seven muscles of the index fin-

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Locally weighted regression for control

Ting, J., Vijayakumar, S., Schaal, S.

In Encyclopedia of Machine Learning, pages: 613-624, (Editors: Sammut, C.;Webb, G. I.), Springer, 2010, clmc (inbook)

Abstract
This is article addresses two topics: learning control and locally weighted regression.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Are reaching movements planned in kinematic or dynamic coordinates?

Ellmer, A., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2010), Naples, Florida, 2010, 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Whether human reaching movements are planned and optimized in kinematic (task space) or dynamic (joint or muscle space) coordinates is still an issue of debate. The first hypothesis implies that a planner produces a desired end-effector position at each point in time during the reaching movement, whereas the latter hypothesis includes the dynamics of the muscular-skeletal control system to produce a continuous end-effector trajectory. Previous work by Wolpert et al (1995) showed that when subjects were led to believe that their straight reaching paths corresponded to curved paths as shown on a computer screen, participants adapted the true path of their hand such that they would visually perceive a straight line in visual space, despite that they actually produced a curved path. These results were interpreted as supporting the stance that reaching trajectories are planned in kinematic coordinates. However, this experiment could only demonstrate that adaptation to altered paths, i.e. the position of the end-effector, did occur, but not that the precise timing of end-effector position was equally planned, i.e., the trajectory. Our current experiment aims at filling this gap by explicitly testing whether position over time, i.e. velocity, is a property of reaching movements that is planned in kinematic coordinates. In the current experiment, the velocity profiles of cursor movements corresponding to the participant's hand motions were skewed either to the left or to the right; the path itself was left unaltered. We developed an adaptation paradigm, where the skew of the velocity profile was introduced gradually and participants reported no awareness of any manipulation. Preliminary results indicate that the true hand motion of participants did not alter, i.e. there was no adaptation so as to counterbalance the introduced skew. However, for some participants, peak hand velocities were lowered for higher skews, which suggests that participants interpreted the manipulation as mere noise due to variance in their own movement. In summary, for a visuomotor transformation task, the hypothesis of a planned continuous end-effector trajectory predicts adaptation to a modified velocity profile. The current experiment found no systematic adaptation under such transformation, but did demonstrate an effect that is more in accordance that subjects could not perceive the manipulation and rather interpreted as an increase of noise.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Optimality in Neuromuscular Systems

Theodorou, E. A., Valero-Cuevas, F.

In 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Abstract? We provide an overview of optimal control meth- ods to nonlinear neuromuscular systems and discuss their lim- itations. Moreover we extend current optimal control methods to their application to neuromuscular models with realistically numerous musculotendons; as most prior work is limited to torque-driven systems. Recent work on computational motor control has explored the used of control theory and esti- mation as a conceptual tool to understand the underlying computational principles of neuromuscular systems. After all, successful biological systems regularly meet conditions for stability, robustness and performance for multiple classes of complex tasks. Among a variety of proposed control theory frameworks to explain this, stochastic optimal control has become a dominant framework to the point of being a standard computational technique to reproduce kinematic trajectories of reaching movements (see [12]) In particular, we demonstrate the application of optimal control to a neuromuscular model of the index finger with all seven musculotendons producing a tapping task. Our simu- lations include 1) a muscle model that includes force- length and force-velocity characteristics; 2) an anatomically plausible biomechanical model of the index finger that includes a tendi- nous network for the extensor mechanism and 3) a contact model that is based on a nonlinear spring-damper attached at the end effector of the index finger. We demonstrate that it is feasible to apply optimal control to systems with realistically large state vectors and conclude that, while optimal control is an adequate formalism to create computational models of neuro- musculoskeletal systems, there remain important challenges and limitations that need to be considered and overcome such as contact transitions, curse of dimensionality, and constraints on states and controls.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Efficient learning and feature detection in high dimensional regression

Ting, J., D’Souza, A., Vijayakumar, S., Schaal, S.

Neural Computation, 22, pages: 831-886, 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
We present a novel algorithm for efficient learning and feature selection in high- dimensional regression problems. We arrive at this model through a modification of the standard regression model, enabling us to derive a probabilistic version of the well-known statistical regression technique of backfitting. Using the Expectation- Maximization algorithm, along with variational approximation methods to overcome intractability, we extend our algorithm to include automatic relevance detection of the input features. This Variational Bayesian Least Squares (VBLS) approach retains its simplicity as a linear model, but offers a novel statistically robust â??black- boxâ? approach to generalized linear regression with high-dimensional inputs. It can be easily extended to nonlinear regression and classification problems. In particular, we derive the framework of sparse Bayesian learning, e.g., the Relevance Vector Machine, with VBLS at its core, offering significant computational and robustness advantages for this class of methods. We evaluate our algorithm on synthetic and neurophysiological data sets, as well as on standard regression and classification benchmark data sets, comparing it with other competitive statistical approaches and demonstrating its suitability as a drop-in replacement for other generalized linear regression techniques.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Stochastic Differential Dynamic Programming

Theodorou, E., Tassa, Y., Todorov, E.

In the proceedings of American Control Conference (ACC 2010) , 2010, clmc (article)

Abstract
We present a generalization of the classic Differential Dynamic Programming algorithm. We assume the existence of state- and control-dependent process noise, and proceed to derive the second-order expansion of the cost-to-go. Despite having quartic and cubic terms in the initial expression, we show that these vanish, leaving us with the same quadratic structure as standard DDP.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


no image
Learning Policy Improvements with Path Integrals

Theodorou, E. A., Buchli, J., Schaal, S.

In International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics (AISTATS 2010), 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
With the goal to generate more scalable algo- rithms with higher efficiency and fewer open parameters, reinforcement learning (RL) has recently moved towards combining classi- cal techniques from optimal control and dy- namic programming with modern learning techniques from statistical estimation the- ory. In this vein, this paper suggests the framework of stochastic optimal control with path integrals to derive a novel approach to RL with parametrized policies. While solidly grounded in value function estimation and optimal control based on the stochastic Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman (HJB) equations, policy improvements can be transformed into an approximation problem of a path inte- gral which has no open parameters other than the exploration noise. The resulting algorithm can be conceived of as model- based, semi-model-based, or even model free, depending on how the learning problem is structured. Our new algorithm demon- strates interesting similarities with previous RL research in the framework of proba- bility matching and provides intuition why the slightly heuristically motivated proba- bility matching approach can actually per- form well. Empirical evaluations demon- strate significant performance improvements over gradient-based policy learning and scal- ability to high-dimensional control problems. We believe that Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2) offers currently one of the most efficient, numerically robust, and easy to implement algorithms for RL based on trajectory roll-outs.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


no image
Learning optimal control solutions: a path integral approach

Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2010), Naples, Florida, 2010, 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Investigating principles of human motor control in the framework of optimal control has had a long tradition in neural control of movement, and has recently experienced a new surge of investigations. Ideally, optimal control problems are addresses as a reinforcement learning (RL) problem, which would allow to investigate both the process of acquiring an optimal control solution as well as the solution itself. Unfortunately, the applicability of RL to complex neural and biomechanics systems has been largely impossible so far due to the computational difficulties that arise in high dimensional continuous state-action spaces. As a way out, research has focussed on computing optimal control solutions based on iterative optimal control methods that are based on linear and quadratic approximations of dynamical models and cost functions. These methods require perfect knowledge of the dynamics and cost functions while they are based on gradient and Newton optimization schemes. Their applicability is also restricted to low dimensional problems due to problematic convergence in high dimensions. Moreover, the process of computing the optimal solution is removed from the learning process that might be plausible in biology. In this work, we present a new reinforcement learning method for learning optimal control solutions or motor control. This method, based on the framework of stochastic optimal control with path integrals, has a very solid theoretical foundation, while resulting in surprisingly simple learning algorithms. It is also possible to apply this approach without knowledge of the system model, and to use a wide variety of complex nonlinear cost functions for optimization. We illustrate the theoretical properties of this approach and its applicability to learning motor control tasks for reaching movements and locomotion studies. We discuss its applicability to learning desired trajectories, variable stiffness control (co-contraction), and parameterized control policies. We also investigate the applicability to signal dependent noise control systems. We believe that the suggested method offers one of the easiest to use approaches to learning optimal control suggested in the literature so far, which makes it ideally suited for computational investigations of biological motor control.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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A highly integrated low pressure fluid servo-valve for applications in wearable robotic systems

Folgheraiter, M., Jordan, M., Vaca Benitez, L. M., Grimminger, F., Schmidt, S., Albiez, J., Kirchner, F.

In ICINCO 2010 - Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics, 2, pages: 72-78, 2010 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper an innovative low pressure servo-valve is presented. The device was designed with the main aim to be easily integrable into complex hydraulic/pneumatic actuation systems, and to operate at relatively low pressure (<50·105Pa). Characteristics like compactness, lightweight, high bandwidth, and autonomous sensory capability, where considered during the design process in order to achieve a device that fulfills the basic requirements for a wearable robotic system. Preliminary results about the prototype performances are presented here, in particular its dynamic behavior was measured for different working conditions, and a non-linear model identified using a recursive Hammerstein-Wiener parameter adaptation algorithm.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]