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Institute Talks

Design of functional polymers for biomedical applications

  • 27 February 2019
  • Dr. Salvador Borrós Gómez

Functional polymers can be easily tailored for their interaction with living organismes. In our Group, we have worked during the last 15 years in the development of this kind of polymeric materials with different funcionalities, high biocompatibility and in different forms. In this talk, we will describe the synthesis of thermosensitive thin films that can be used to prevent biofilm formation in medical devices, the preparation of biodegradable polymers specially designed for vectors for gene transfection and a new familliy of zwitterionic polymers that are able to cross intestine mucouse for oral delivery applications. The relationship between structure-functionality- applications will be discussed for every example.

A new path to understanding biological/human vision: theory and experiments

IS Colloquium
  • 11 March 2019 • 14:00 15:00
  • Zhaoping Li
  • MPI-IS lecture hall (N0.002)

Since Hubel and Wiesel's seminal findings in the primary visual cortex (V1) more than 50 years ago, progress in vision science has been very limited along previous frameworks and schools of thoughts on understanding vision. Have we been asking the right questions? I will show observations motivating the new path. First, a drastic information bottleneck forces the brain to process only a tiny fraction of the massive visual input information; this selection is called the attentional selection, how to select this tiny fraction is critical. Second, a large body of evidence has been accumulating to suggest that the primary visual cortex (V1) is where this selection starts, suggesting that the visual cortical areas along the visual pathway beyond V1 must be investigated in light of this selection in V1. Placing attentional selection as the center stage, a new path to understanding vision is proposed (articulated in my book "Understanding vision: theory, models, and data", Oxford University Press 2014). I will show a first example of using this new path, which aims to ask new questions and make fresh progresses. I will relate our insights to artificial vision systems to discuss issues like top-down feedbacks in hierachical processing, analysis-by-synthesis, and image understanding.

Organizers: Timo Bolkart Aamir Ahmad

Artificial haptic intelligence for human-machine systems

IS Colloquium
  • 24 October 2018 • 11:00 12:00
  • Veronica J. Santos
  • 5H7 at MPI-IS in Stuttgart

The functionality of artificial manipulators could be enhanced by artificial “haptic intelligence” that enables the identification of object features via touch for semi-autonomous decision-making and/or display to a human operator. This could be especially useful when complementary sensory modalities, such as vision, are unavailable. I will highlight past and present work to enhance the functionality of artificial hands in human-machine systems. I will describe efforts to develop multimodal tactile sensor skins, and to teach robots how to haptically perceive salient geometric features such as edges and fingertip-sized bumps and pits using machine learning techniques. I will describe the use of reinforcement learning to teach robots goal-based policies for a functional contour-following task: the closure of a ziplock bag. Our Contextual Multi-Armed Bandits approach tightly couples robot actions to the tactile and proprioceptive consequences of the actions, and selects future actions based on prior experiences, the current context, and a functional task goal. Finally, I will describe current efforts to develop real-time capabilities for the perception of tactile directionality, and to develop models for haptically locating objects buried in granular media. Real-time haptic perception and decision-making capabilities could be used to advance semi-autonomous robot systems and reduce the cognitive burden on human teleoperators of devices ranging from wheelchair-mounted robots to explosive ordnance disposal robots.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker

Learning to Act with Confidence

  • 23 October 2018 • 12:00 13:00
  • Andreas Krause
  • MPI-IS Tübingen, N0.002

Actively acquiring decision-relevant information is a key capability of intelligent systems, and plays a central role in the scientific process. In this talk I will present research from my group on this topic at the intersection of statistical learning, optimization and decision making. In particular, I will discuss how statistical confidence bounds can guide data acquisition in a principled way to make effective and reliable decisions in a variety of complex domains. I will also discuss several applications, ranging from autonomously guiding wetlab experiments in protein function optimization to safe exploration in robotics.

Control Systems for a Surgical Robot on the Space Station

IS Colloquium
  • 23 October 2018 • 16:30 17:30
  • Chris Macnab
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

As part of a proposed design for a surgical robot on the space station, my research group has been asked to look at controls that can provide literally surgical precision. Due to excessive time delay, we envision a system with a local model being controlled by a surgeon while the remote system on the space station follows along in a safe manner. Two of the major design considerations that come into play for the low-level feedback loops on the remote side are 1) the harmonic drives in a robot will cause excessive vibrations in a micro-gravity environment unless active damping strategies are employed and 2) when interacting with a human tissue environment the robot must apply smooth control signals that result in precise positions and forces. Thus, we envision intelligent strategies that utilize nonlinear, adaptive, neural-network, and/or fuzzy control theory as the most suitable. However, space agencies, or their engineering sub-contractors, typically provide gain and phase margin characteristics as requirements to the engineers involved in a control system design, which are normally associated with PID or other traditional linear control schemes. We are currently endeavouring to create intelligent controls that have guaranteed gain and phase margins using the Cerebellar Model Articulation Controller.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker

  • Ravi Haksar
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, seminar room 2P4

What do forest fires, disease outbreaks, robot swarms, and social networks have in common? How can we develop a common set of tools for these applications? In this talk, I will first introduce a modeling framework that describes large-scale phenomena and which is based on the idea of "local interactions." I will then describe my work on creating estimation and control methods for a single agent and for a cooperative team of autonomous agents. In particular, these algorithms are scalable as the solution does not change if the number of agents or environment size changes. Forest fires and the 2013 Ebola outbreak in West Africa are presented as examples.

Organizers: Sebastian Trimpe

  • Charlotte Le Mouel
  • 2P4, Heisenbergstr. 3, 70188 Stuttgart

Theories of motor control in neuroscience usually focus on the role of the nervous system in the coordination of movement. However, the literature in sports science as well as in embodied robotics suggests that improvements in motor performance can be achieved through an improvement of the body mechanical properties themselves, rather than only the control. I therefore developed the thesis that efficient motor coordination in animals and humans relies on the adjustment of the body mechanical properties to the task at hand, by the postural system.

Organizers: Charlotte Le Mouel Alexander Sproewitz

  • Mario Herger
  • Kupferbau Universität Tübingen, Hörsaal 22

Über 1.000 selbstfahrende Testfahrzeuge von insgesamt 57 Unternehmen fahren im Silicon Valley bereits herum, und nun steht die Google-Schwester Waymo davor, 82.000 Robotertaxis auf die Straßen zu bringen. Und das nicht irgendwann, sondern noch dieses Jahr. Währenddessen rüstet sich Tesla mit seinem vollelektrischen Model 3 für einen Frontalangriff auf die deutschen Hersteller. In den USA sind die Verkaufszahlen deutscher Mittelklassewagen im Vergleich zum Vorjahr um 29 Prozent eingebrochen.

Still, In Motion

  • 12 October 2018 • 11:00 12:00
  • Michael Cohen

In this talk, I will take an autobiographical approach to explain both where we have come from in computer graphics from the early days of rendering, and to point towards where we are going in this new world of smartphones and social media. We are at a point in history where the abilities to express oneself with media is unparalleled. The ubiquity and power of mobile devices coupled with new algorithmic paradigms is opening new expressive possibilities weekly. At the same time, these new creative media (composite imagery, augmented imagery, short form video, 3D photos) also offer unprecedented abilities to move freely between what is real and unreal. I will focus on the spaces in between images and video, and in between objective and subjective reality. Finally, I will close with some lessons learned along the way.

  • Mariacarla Memeo
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

The increasing availability of on-line resources and the widespread practice of storing data over the internet arise the problem of their accessibility for visually impaired people. A translation from the visual domain to the available modalities is therefore necessary to study if this access is somewhat possible. However, the translation of information from vision to touch is necessarily impaired due to the superiority of vision during the acquisition process. Yet, compromises exist as visual information can be simplified, sketched. A picture can become a map. An object can become a geometrical shape. Under some circumstances, and with a reasonable loss of generality, touch can substitute vision. In particular, when touch substitutes vision, data can be differentiated by adding a further dimension to the tactile feedback, i.e. extending tactile feedback to three dimensions instead of two. This mode has been chosen because it mimics our natural way of following object profiles with fingers. Specifically, regardless if a hand lying on an object is moving or not, our tactile and proprioceptive systems are both stimulated and tell us something about which object we are manipulating, what can be its shape and size. The goal of this talk is to describe how to exploit tactile stimulation to render digital information non visually, so that cognitive maps associated with this information can be efficiently elicited from visually impaired persons. In particular, the focus is to deliver geometrical information in a learning scenario. Moreover, a completely blind interaction with virtual environment in a learning scenario is something little investigated because visually impaired subjects are often passive agents of exercises with fixed environment constraints. For this reason, during the talk I will provide my personal answer to the question: can visually impaired people manipulate dynamic virtual content through touch? This process is much more challenging than only exploring and learning a virtual content, but at the same time it leads to a more conscious and dynamic creation of the spatial understanding of an environment during tactile exploration.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker

  • Gokhan Serhat
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

Continuum structures need to be designed for optimal vibrational characteristics in various fields. Recent developments in the finite element analysis (FEA) and numerical optimization methods allow creating more accurate computational models, which favors designing superior systems and reduces the need for experimentation. In this talk, I will present my work on FEA-based optimization of thin shell structures for improved dynamic properties where the focus will be on laminated composites. I will initially explain multi-objective optimization strategies for enhancing load-carrying and vibrational performance of plate structures. The talk will continue with the design of curved panels for optimal free and forced dynamic responses. After that, I will present advanced methods that I developed for modeling and optimization of variable-stiffness structures. Finally, I will outline the state-of-the-art techniques regarding numerical simulation of the finger in contact with surfaces and propose potential research directions.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker

Soft Feel by Soft Robotic Hand: New way of robotic sensing

IS Colloquium
  • 04 October 2018 • 13:30 - 04 September 2018 • 14:30
  • Prof. Koh Hosoda
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Werner-Köster lecture hall

This lecture will show some interesting examples how soft body/skin will change your idea of robotic sensing. Soft Robotics does not only discuss about compliance and safety; soft structure will change the way to categorize objects by dynamic exploration and enables the robot to learn sense of slip. Soft Robotics will entirely change your idea how to design sensing and open up a new way to understand human sensing.

Organizers: Ardian Jusufi