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Institute Talks

From Fingertip Skin Mechanics to Dexterous Object Manipulation

IS Colloquium
  • 25 September 2019 • 13:00 14:00
  • Jean-Louis Thonnard
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

Fingertip skin friction plays a critical role during object manipulation. We will describe a simple and reliable method to estimate the fingertip static coefficient of friction (CF) continuously and quickly during object manipulation, and we will describe a global expression of the CF as a function of the normal force and fingertip moisture. Then we will show how skin hydration modifies the skin deformation dynamics during grip-like contacts. Certain motor behaviours observed during object manipulation could be explained by the effects of skin hydration. Then the biomechanics of the partial slip phenomenon will be described, and we will examine how this partial slip phenomenon is related to the subjective perception of fingertip slip.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker David Gueorguiev

Soft Aerial Robotics for Infrastructure Manufacturing

  • 26 September 2019 • 14:00 15:00
  • Mirko Kovac
  • 2R04

Future cities and infrastructure systems will evolve into complex conglomerates where autonomous aerial, aquatic and ground-based robots will coexist with people and cooperate in symbiosis. To create this human-robot ecosystem, robots will need to respond more flexibly, robustly and efficiently than they do today. They will need to be designed with the ability to move across terrain boundaries and physically interact with infrastructure elements to perform sensing and intervention tasks. Taking inspiration from nature, aerial robotic systems can integrate multi-functional morphology, new materials, energy-efficient locomotion principles and advanced perception abilities that will allow them to successfully operate and cooperate in complex and dynamic environments. This talk will describe the scientific fundamentals, design principles and technologies for the development of biologically inspired flying robots with adaptive morphology that can perform monitoring and manufacturing tasks for future infrastructure and building systems. Examples will include flying robots with perching capabilities and origami-based landing systems, drones for aerial construction and repair, and combustion-based jet thrusters for aerial-aquatic vehicles.

Organizers: Metin Sitti

  • Jim Little

I will survey our work on tracking and measurement, waypoints on the path to activity recognition and understanding, in sports video, highlighting some of our recent work on rectification and player tracking, not just in hockey but more recently in basketball, where we have addressed player identification both in a fully supervised and semi-supervised manner.

  • Trevor Darrell

Methods for visual recognition have made dramatic strides in recent years on various online benchmarks, but performance in the real world still often falters. Classic gradient-histogram models make overly simplistic assumptions regarding image appearance statistics, both locally and globally. Recent progress suggests that new learning-based representations can improve recognition by devices that are embedded in a physical world.

I'll review new methods for domain adaptation which capture the visual domain shift between environments, and improve recognition of objects in specific places when trained from generic online sources. I'll discuss methods for cross-modal semi-supervised learning, which can leverage additional unlabeled modalities in a test environment.

Finally as time permits I'll present recent results learning hierarchical local image representations based on recursive probabilistic topic models, on learning strong object color models from sets of uncalibrated views using a new multi-view color constancy paradigm, and/or on recent results on monocular estimation of grasp affordances.

  • Stan Sclaroff

In the first part of the talk, I will describe methods that learn a single family of detectors for object classes that exhibit large within-class variation. One common solution is to use a divide-and-conquer strategy, where the space of possible within-class variations is partitioned, and different detectors are trained for different partitions.

However, these discrete partitions tend to be arbitrary in continuous spaces, and the classifiers have limited power when there are too few training samples in each subclass. To address this shortcoming, explicit feature sharing has been proposed, but it also makes training more expensive. We show that foreground-background classification (detection) and within-class classification of the foreground class (pose estimation) can be jointly solved in a multiplicative form of two kernel functions. One kernel measures similarity for foreground-background classification. The other kernel accounts for latent factors that control within-class variation and implicitly enables feature sharing among foreground training samples. The multiplicative kernel formulation enables feature sharing implicitly; the solution for the optimal sharing is a byproduct of SVM learning.

The resulting detector family is tuned to specific variations in the foreground. The effectiveness of this framework is demonstrated in experiments that involve detection, tracking, and pose estimation of human hands, faces, and vehicles in video.

Dino Sejdinovic - TBA

IS Colloquium
  • Dino Sejdinovic

  • Tim Sullivan

Beginning with a seminal paper of Diaconis (1988), the aim of so-called "probabilistic numerics" is to compute probabilistic solutions to deterministic problems arising in numerical analysis by casting them as statistical inference problems. For example, numerical integration of a deterministic function can be seen as the integration of an unknown/random function, with evaluations of the integrand at the integration nodes proving partial information about the integrand. Advantages offered by this viewpoint include: access to the Bayesian representation of prior and posterior uncertainties; better propagation of uncertainty through hierarchical systems than simple worst-case error bounds; and appropriate accounting for numerical truncation and round-off error in inverse problems, so that the replicability of deterministic simulations is not confused with their accuracy, thereby yielding an inappropriately concentrated Bayesian posterior. This talk will describe recent work on probabilistic numerical solvers for ordinary and partial differential equations, including their theoretical construction, convergence rates, and applications to forward and inverse problems. Joint work with Andrew Stuart (Warwick).

Organizers: Philipp Hennig