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Institute Talks

Dexterous and non contact micromanipulation for micro-nano-assembly and biomedical applications

Talk
  • 24 September 2018 • 09:30 10:30
  • Dr. Aude Bolopion and Dr. Mich
  • 2P4

This talk presents an overview of recent activities of FEMTO-ST institute in the field of micro-nanomanipulation fo both micro nano assembly and biomedical applications. Microrobotic systems are currently limited by the number of degree of freedom addressed and also are very limited by their throughput. Two ways can be considered to improve both the velocity and the degrees of freedom: non-contact manipulation and dexterous micromanipulation. Indeed in both ways movement including rotation and translation are done locally and are only limited by the micro-nano-objects inertia which is very low. It consequently enable to generate 6DOF and to induce high dynamics. The talk presents recent works which have shown that controlled trajectories in non contact manipulation enable to manipulate micro-objects in high speed. Dexterous manipulation on a 4 fingers microtweezers have been also experimented and show that in-hand micromanipulations are possible in micro-nanoscale based on original finger trajectory planning. These two approaches have been applied to perform micro-nano-assemby and biomedical operations

Learning to align images and surfaces

Talk
  • 24 September 2018 • 11:00 12:00
  • Iasonas Kokkinos
  • Ground Floor Seminar Room (N0.002)

In this talk I will be presenting recent work on combining ideas from deformable models with deep learning. I will start by describing DenseReg and DensePose, two recently introduced systems for establishing dense correspondences between 2D images and 3D surface models ``in the wild'', namely in the presence of background, occlusions, and multiple objects. For DensePose in particular we introduce DensePose-COCO, a large-scale dataset for dense pose estimation, and DensePose-RCNN, a system which operates at multiple frames per second on a single GPU while handling multiple humans simultaneously. I will then present Deforming AutoEncoders, a method for unsupervised dense correspondence estimation. We show that we can disentangle deformations from appearance variation in an entirely unsupervised manner, and also provide promising results for a more thorough disentanglement of images into deformations, albedo and shading. Time permitting we will discuss a parallel line of work aiming at combining grouping with deep learning, and see how both grouping and correspondence can be understood as establishing associations between neurons.

Organizers: Vassilis Choutas

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

Medical Robots with a Haptic Touch – First Experiences with the FLEXMIN System

IS Colloquium
  • 04 October 2018 • 10:00 11:00
  • Prof. Peter Pott
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

The FLEXMIN haptic robotic system is a single-port tele-manipulator for robotic surgery in the small pelvis. Using a transanal approach it allows bi-manual tasks such as grasping, monopolar cutting, and suturing with a footprint of Ø 160 x 240 mm³. Forces up to 5 N in all direction can be applied easily. In addition to provide low latency and highly dynamic control over its movements, high-fidelity haptic feedback was realised using built-in force sensors, lightweight and friction-optimized kinematics as well as dedicated parallel kinematics input devices. After a brief description of the system and some of its key aspects, first evaluation results will be presented. In the second half of the talk the Institute of Medical Device Technology will be presented. The institute was founded in July 2017 and has ever since started a number of projects in the field of biomedical actuation, medical systems and robotics and advanced light microscopy. To illustrate this a few snapshots of bits and pieces will be presented that are condensation nuclei for the future.

Organizers: Katherine Kuchenbecker

Interactive and Effective Representation of Digital Content through Touch using Local Tactile Feedback

Talk
  • 05 October 2018 • 11:00 12:00
  • 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 Kuchenbecker

Autonomous Robots that Walk and Fly

Talk
  • 22 October 2018 • 11:00 12:00
  • Roland Siegwart
  • MPI, Lecture Hall 2D5, Heisenbergstraße 1, Stuttgart

While robots are already doing a wonderful job as factory workhorses, they are now gradually appearing in our daily environments and offering their services as autonomous cars, delivery drones, helpers in search and rescue and much more. This talk will present some recent highlights in the field of autonomous mobile robotics research and touch on some of the great challenges and opportunities. Legged robots are able to overcome the limitations of wheeled or tracked ground vehicles. ETH’s electrically powered legged quadruped robots are designed for high agility, efficiency and robustness in rough terrain. This is realized through an optimal exploitation of the natural dynamics and serial elastic actuation. For fast inspection of complex environments, flying robots are probably the most efficient and versatile devices. However, the limited payload and computing power of drones renders autonomous navigation quite challenging. Thanks to our custom designed visual-inertial sensor, real-time on-board localization, mapping and planning has become feasible and enables our multi-copters and solar-powered fixed wing drones for advanced rescue and inspection tasks or support in precision farming, even in GPS-denied environments.

Organizers: Katherine Kuchenbecker Matthias Tröndle Ildikó Papp-Wiedmann

  • Dominik Bach

Under acute threat, biological agents need to choose adaptive actions to survive. In my talk, I will provide a decision-theoretic view on this problem and ask, what are potential computational algorithms for this choice, and how are they implemented in neural circuits. Rational design principles and non-human animal data tentatively suggest a specific architecture that heavily relies on tailored algorithms for specific threat scenarios. Virtual reality computer games provide an opportunity to translate non-human animal tasks to humans and investigate these algorithms across species. I will discuss the specific challenges for empirical inference on underlying neural circuits given such architecture.

Organizers: Michel Besserve


  • Anton Van Den Hengel
  • Aquarium

Visual Question Answering is one of the applications of Deep Learning that is pushing towards real Artificial Intelligence. It turns the typical deep learning process around by only defining the task to be carried out after the training has taken place, which changes the task fundamentally. We have developed a range of strategies for incorporating other information sources into deep learning-based methods, and the process taken a step towards developing algorithms which learn how to use other algorithms to solve a problem, rather than solving it directly. This talk thus covers some of the high-level questions about the types of challenges Deep Learning can be applied to, and how we might separate the things its good at from those that it’s not.

Organizers: Siyu Tang


The Gentle Robot

Talk
  • 27 September 2017 • 13:13 14:50
  • Prof. Sami Haddadin
  • Main Seminar Room (N0.002)

Enabling robots for interaction with humans and unknown environments has been one of the primary goals of robotics research over decades. I will outline how human-centered robot design, nonlinear soft-robotics control inspired by human neuromechanics and physics grounded learning algorithms will let robots become a commodity in our near-future society. In particular, compliant and energy-controlled ultra-lightweight systems capable of complex collision handling enable high-performance human assistance over a wide variety of application domains. Together with novel methods for dynamics and skill learning, flexible and easy-to-use robotic power tools and systems can be designed. Recently, our work has led to the first next generation robot Franka Emika that has recently become commercially available. The system is able to safely interact with humans, execute and even learn sensitive manipulation skills, is affordable and designed as a distributed interconnected system.

Organizers: Eva Laemmerhirt


Meta-learning statistics and augmentations for few shot learning

IS Colloquium
  • 25 September 2017 • 11:15 12:15
  • Amos Storkey
  • Tübingen, MPI_IS Lecture Hall (ground floor)

In this talk I introduce the neural statistician as an approach for meta learning. The neural statistician learns to appropriately summarise datasets through a learnt statistic vector. This can be used for few shot learning, by computing the statistic vectors for the presented data, and using these statistics as context variables for one-shot classification and generation. I will show how we can generalise the neural statistician to a context aware learner that learns to characterise and combine independently learnt contexts. I will also demonstrate an approach for meta-learning data augmentation strategies. Acknowledgments: This work is joint work with Harri Edwards, Antreas Antoniou, and Conor Durkan.

Organizers: Philipp Hennig


The Three Pillars of Fully Autonomous Driving

IS Colloquium
  • 18 September 2017 • 11:00 12:00
  • Prof. Amnon Shashua
  • MPI_IS Stuttgart, Lecture Room 2 D5

The field of transportation is undergoing a seismic change with the coming introduction of autonomous driving. The technologies required to enable computer driven cars involves the latest cutting edge artificial intelligence algorithms along three major thrusts: Sensing, Planning and Mapping. Prof. Amnon Shashua, Co-founder and Chairman of Mobileye, will describe the challenges and the kind of machine learning algorithms involved, but will do that through the perspective of Mobileye’s activity in this domain.

Organizers: Michael Black


A locally Adaptive Normal Distribution

Talk
  • 05 September 2017 • 14:00 15:30
  • Georgios Arvanitidis
  • S2 Seminar Room

The fundamental building block in many learning models is the distance measure that is used. Usually, the linear distance is used for simplicity. Replacing this stiff distance measure with a flexible one could potentially give a better representation of the actual distance between two points. I will present how the normal distribution changes if the distance measure respects the underlying structure of the data. In particular, a Riemannian manifold will be learned based on observations. The geodesic curve can then be computed—a length-minimizing curve under the Riemannian measure. With this flexible distance measure we get a normal distribution that locally adapts to the data. A maximum likelihood estimation scheme is provided for inference of the parameters mean and covariance, and also, a systematic way to choose the parameter defining the Riemannian manifold. Results on synthetic and real world data demonstrate the efficiency of the proposed model to fit non-trivial probability distributions.

Organizers: Philipp Hennig


  • Prof. Dr. Hedvig Kjellström
  • N3.022 / Aquarium

In this talk I will first outline my different research projects. I will then focus on the EACare project, a quite newly started multi-disciplinary collaboration with the aim to develop an embodied system, capable of carrying out neuropsychological tests to detect early signs of dementia, e.g., due to Alzheimer's disease. The system will use methods from Machine Learning and Social Robotics, and be trained with examples of recorded clinician-patient interactions. The interaction will be developed using a participatory design approach. I describe the scope and method of the project, and report on a first Wizard of Oz prototype.


  • Yeara Kozlov
  • Aquarium

Creating convincing human facial animation is challenging. Face animation is often hand-crafted by artists separately from body motion. Alternatively, if the face animation is derived from motion capture, it is typically performed while the actor is relatively still. Recombining the isolated face animation with body motion is non-trivial and often results in uncanny results if the body dynamics are not properly reflected on the face (e.g. cheeks wiggling when running). In this talk, I will discuss the challenges of human soft tissue simulation and control. I will then present our method for adding physical effects to facial blendshape animation. Unlike previous methods that try to add physics to face rigs, our method can combine facial animation and rigid body motion consistently while preserving the original animation as closely as possible. Our novel simulation framework uses the original animation as per-frame rest-poses without adding spurious forces. We also propose the concept of blendmaterials to give artists an intuitive means to control the changing material properties due to muscle activation.

Organizers: Timo Bolkart


Metrics Matter, Examples from Binary and Multilabel Classification

IS Colloquium
  • 21 August 2017 • 11:15 12:15
  • Sanmi Koyejo
  • Empirical Inference meeting room (MPI-IS building, 4th floor)

Performance metrics are a key component of machine learning systems, and are ideally constructed to reflect real world tradeoffs. In contrast, much of the literature simply focuses on algorithms for maximizing accuracy. With the increasing integration of machine learning into real systems, it is clear that accuracy is an insufficient measure of performance for many problems of interest. Unfortunately, unlike accuracy, many real world performance metrics are non-decomposable i.e. cannot be computed as a sum of losses for each instance. Thus, known algorithms and associated analysis are not trivially extended, and direct approaches require expensive combinatorial optimization. I will outline recent results characterizing population optimal classifiers for large families of binary and multilabel classification metrics, including such nonlinear metrics as F-measure and Jaccard measure. Perhaps surprisingly, the prediction which maximizes the utility for a range of such metrics takes a simple form. This results in simple and scalable procedures for optimizing complex metrics in practice. I will also outline how the same analysis gives optimal procedures for selecting point estimates from complex posterior distributions for structured objects such as graphs. Joint work with Nagarajan Natarajan, Bowei Yan, Kai Zhong, Pradeep Ravikumar and Inderjit Dhillon.

Organizers: Mijung Park


Challenges of writing and maintaining programs for robots

Talk
  • 04 August 2017 • 11:30 12:45
  • Mirko Bordignon
  • AMD meeting

Writing and maintaining programs for robots poses some interesting challenges. It is hard to generalize them, as their targets are more than computing platforms. It can be deceptive to see them as input to output mappings, as interesting environments result in unpredictable inputs, and mixing reactive and deliberative behavior make intended outputs hard to define. Given the wide and fragmented landscape of components, from hardware to software, and the parties involved in providing and using them, integration is also a non-trivial aspect. The talk will illustrate the work ongoing at Fraunhofer IPA to tackle these challenges, how Open Source is its common trait, and how this translates into the industrial field thanks to the ROS-Industrial initiative.

Organizers: Vincent Berenz