Institute Talks

Multi-contact locomotion control for legged robots

  • 25 April 2017 • 11:00 12:30
  • Dr. Andrea Del Prete
  • N2.025 (AMD seminar room - 2nd floor)

This talk will survey recent work to achieve multi-contact locomotion control of humanoid and legged robots. I will start by presenting some results on robust optimization-based control. We exploited robust optimization techniques, either stochastic or worst-case, to improve the robustness of Task-Space Inverse Dynamics (TSID), a well-known control framework for legged robots. We modeled uncertainties in the joint torques, and we immunized the constraints of the system to any of the realizations of these uncertainties. We also applied the same methodology to ensure the balance of the robot despite bounded errors in the its inertial parameters. Extensive simulations in a realistic environment show that the proposed robust controllers greatly outperform the classic one. Then I will present preliminary results on a new capturability criterion for legged robots in multi-contact. "N-step capturability" is the ability of a system to come to a stop by taking N or fewer steps. Simplified models to compute N-step capturability already exist and are widely used, but they are limited to locomotion on flat terrains. We propose a new efficient algorithm to compute 0-step capturability for a robot in arbitrary contact scenarios. Finally, I will present our recent efforts to transfer the above-mentioned techniques to the real humanoid robot HRP-2, on which we recently implemented joint torque control.

Organizers: Ludovic Righetti

Learning from Synthetic Humans

  • 04 May 2017 • 15:00 16:00
  • Gul Varol
  • N3.022 (Greenhouse)

Estimating human pose, shape, and motion from images and video are fundamental challenges with many applications. Recent advances in 2D human pose estimation use large amounts of manually-labeled training data for learning convolutional neural networks (CNNs). Such data is time consuming to acquire and difficult to extend. Moreover, manual labeling of 3D pose, depth and motion is impractical. In this work we present SURREAL: a new large-scale dataset with synthetically-generated but realistic images of people rendered from 3D sequences of human motion capture data. We generate more than 6 million frames together with ground truth pose, depth maps, and segmentation masks. We show that CNNs trained on our synthetic dataset allow for accurate human depth estimation and human part segmentation in real RGB images. Our results and the new dataset open up new possibilities for advancing person analysis using cheap and large-scale synthetic data.

Organizers: Dimitris Tzionas

Frederick Eberhardt - TBA

IS Colloquium
  • 03 July 2017 • 11:15 12:15
  • Frederick Eberhardt
  • Max Planck House Lecture Hall

Organizers: Sebastian Weichwald

Computer Vision on UAVs – practical considerations

  • 10 March 2016 • 11:00 12:00
  • Eric Price
  • MRZ Seminar Room

Computer vision on flying robots - or UAVs - brings its own challenges, especially if conducted in real time. On-board processing is limited by tight weight and size constraints for the electronics while off-board processing is challenged by signal delays and connection quality, especially considering the data rates required for high fps high resolution video. Unlike ground based vehicles, precision odometry is unavailable. Positional information is provided by GPS, which can have signal losses and limited precision, especially near terrain. Exact orientation can be even more problematic due to magnetic interference and vibration affecting sensors. In this talk I'd like to present and discuss some examples of practical problems encountered when trying to get robotics airborne – as well as possible solutions.

Organizers: Alina Allakhverdieva

  • Catrin Misselhorn
  • Max Planck Haus Lecture Hall

The development of increasingly intelligent and autonomous technologies will inevitably lead to these systems having to face morally problematic situations. This is particularly true of artificial systems that are used in geriatric care environments. It will, therefore, be necessary in the long run to develop machines which have the capacity for a certain amount of autonomous moral decision-making. The goal of this talk is to provide the theoretical foundations for artificial morality, i.e., for implementing moral capacities in artificial systems in general and a roadmap for developing an assistive system in geriatric care which is capable of moral learning.

Organizers: Ludovic Righetti Philipp Hennig

From image restoration to image understanding

  • 03 March 2016 • 11:30 12:00
  • Lars Mescheder
  • MRZ Seminar Room

Inverse problems are ubiquitous in image processing and applied science in general. Such problems describe the challenge of computing the parameters that characterize a system from the outcomes. While this might seem easy at first for simple systems, many inverse problems share a property that makes them much more intricate: they are ill-posed. This means that either the problem does not have a unique solution or this solution does not depend continuously on the outcomes of the system. Bayesian statistics provides a framework that allows to treat such problems in a systematic way. The missing piece of information is encoded as a prior distribution on the space of possible solutions. In this talk, we will study probabilistic image models as priors for statistical inversion. In particular, we will give a probabilistic interpretation of the classical TV-prior and discuss how this interpretation can be used as a starting point for more complex models. We will see that many important auxiliary quantities such as edges and regions can be incorporated into the model in the form of latent variables. This leads to the conjecture that many image processing tasks, such as denoising and segmentation, should not be considered separately, but instead be treated together.

Images of planets orbiting other stars

  • 01 March 2016 • 11:00 12:00
  • Sascha Quantz
  • AGBS Seminar Room

The detection and characterization of planets orbiting other stars than the Sun, i.e., so-called extrasolar planets, is one of the fastest growing and most vibrant research fields in modern astrophysics. In the last 25 years, more than 5400 extrasolar planets and planet candidates were revealed, but the vast majority of these objects was detected with indirect techniques, where the existence of the planet is inferred from periodic changes in the light coming from the central star. No photons from the planets themselves are detected. In this talk, however, I will focus on the direct detection of extrasolar planets. On the one hand I will describe the main challenges that have to be overcome in order to image planets around other stars. In addition to using the world’s largest telescopes and optimized cameras it was realized in last few years that by applying advanced image processing techniques significant sensitivity gains can be achieved. On the other hand I will demonstrate what can be learned if one is successful in “taking a picture” of an extrasolar planet. After all, there must be good scientific reasons and a strong motivation why the direct detection of extrasolar planets is one of the key science drivers for current and future projects on major ground- and space-based telescopes.

Organizers: Diana Rebmann

Interaction of Science and Art

  • 24 February 2016 • 11:30 12:30
  • Helga Griffiths
  • MRZ Seminar room

In general Helga Griffiths is a Multi-Sense-Artist working on the intersection of science and art. She has been working for over 20 years on the integration of various sensory stimuli into her “multi-sense” installations. Typical for her work is to produce a sensory experience to transcend conventional boundaries of perception.

Organizers: Emma-Jayne Holderness

  • Felix Berkenkamp
  • AMD Seminar Room (Paul-Ehrlich-Str. 15, 1rst floor)

Bayesian optimization is a powerful tool that has been successfully used to automatically optimize the parameters of a fixed control policy. It has many desirable properties, such as data-efficiently and being able to handle noisy measurements. However, standard Bayesian optimization does not consider any constraints imposed by the real system, which limits its applications to highly controlled environments. In this talk, I will introduce an extension of this framework, which additionally considers multiple safety constraints during the optimization process. This method enables safe parameter optimization by only evaluating parameters that fulfill all safety constraints with high probability. I will show several experiments on a quadrotor vehicle which demonstrate the method. Lastly, I will briefly talk about how the ideas behind safe Bayesian optimization can be used to safely explore unknown environments (MDPs).

Organizers: Sebastian Trimpe

  • Aldo Faisal
  • MPH Lecture Hall

Our research questions are centred on a basic characteristic of human brains: variability in their behaviour and their underlying meaning for cognitive mechanisms. Such variability is emerging as a key ingredient in understanding biological principles (Faisal, Selen & Wolpert, 2008, Nature Rev Neurosci) and yet lacks adequate quantitative and computational methods for description and analysis. Crucially, we find that biological and behavioural variability contains important information that our brain and our technology can make us of (instead of just averaging it away): Using advanced body sensor networks, we measured eye-movements, full-body and hand kinematics of humans living in a studio flat and are going to present some insightful results on motor control and visual attention that suggest that the control of behaviour "in-the-wild" is predictably different ways than what we measure "in-the-lab". The results have implications for robotics, prosthetics and neuroscience.

Organizers: Matthias Hohmann

Probabilistic Numerics for Differential Equations

IS Colloquium
  • 11 January 2016 • 11:15 12:15
  • 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

  • Jun Nakanishi
  • TTR, AMD Seminar Room (first floor)

Understanding the principles of natural movement generation has been and continues to be one of the most interesting and important open problems in the fields of robotics and neural control of movement. In this talk, I introduce an overview of our previous work on the control of dynamic movements in robotic systems towards the goal of control design principles and understanding of motion generation. Our research has focused in the fields of dynamical systems theory, adaptive and optimal control and statistical learning, and their application to robotics towards achieving dynamically dexterous behavior in robotic systems. First, our studies on dynamical systems based task encoding in robot brachiation, movement primitives for imitation learning, and oscillator based biped locomotion control will be presented. Then, our recent work on optimal control of robotic systems with variable stiffness actuation will be introduced towards the aim of achieving highly dynamic movements by exploiting the natural dynamics of the system. Finally, our new humanoid robot H-1 at TUM-ICS will be introduced.

Organizers: Ludovic Righetti

  • Alexander Sprowitz
  • TTR, AMD Seminar Room (first floor)

The current performance gap between legged animals and legged robots is large. Animals can reach high locomotion speed in complex terrain, or run at a low cost of transport. They are able to rapidly sense their environment, process sensor data, learn and plan locomotion strategies, and execute feedforward and feedback controlled locomotion patterns fluently on the fly. Animals use hardware that has, compared to the latest man-made actuators, electronics, and processors, relatively low bandwidth, medium power density, and low speed. The most common approach to legged robot locomotion is still assuming rigid linkage hardware, high torque actuators, and model based control algorithms with high bandwidth and high gain feedback mechanisms. State of the art robotic demonstrations such as the 2015 DARPA challenge showed that seemingly trivial locomotion tasks such as level walking, or walking over soft sand still stops most of our biped and quadruped robots. This talk focuses on an alternative class of legged robots and control algorithms designed and implemented on several quadruped and biped platforms, for a new generation of legged robotic systems. Biomechanical blueprints inspired by nature, and mechanisms from locomotion neurocontrol were designed, tested, and can be compared to their biological counterparts. We focus on hardware and controllers that allow comparably cheap robotics, in terms of computation, control, and mechanical complexity. Our goal are highly dynamic, robust legged systems with low weight and inertia, relatively low mechanical complexity and cost of transport, and little computational demands for standard locomotion tasks. Ideally, such system can also be used as testing platforms to explain not yet understood biomechanical and neurocontrol aspects of animals.

Organizers: Ludovic Righetti