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2019


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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]

2019


paper pdf DOI [BibTex]


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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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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Resolving 3D Human Pose Ambiguities with 3D Scene Constraints

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

In International Conference on Computer Vision, 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 link (url) [BibTex]

pdf link (url) [BibTex]


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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]


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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]


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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 Project Page [BibTex]


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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]


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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 (ICCV), 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 Page video [BibTex]


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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]


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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) [BibTex]

pdf suppl poster link (url) [BibTex]


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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]


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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, IEEE, August 2019 (article) Accepted

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 Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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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]


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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]


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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]


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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), 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]


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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), 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) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

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


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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), 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) Project Page [BibTex]

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


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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), 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]


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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]


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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]


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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]


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

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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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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Automated Generation of Reactive Programs from Human Demonstration for Orchestration of Robot Behaviors

Berenz, V., Bjelic, A., Mainprice, J.

ArXiv, 2019 (article)

Abstract
Social robots or collaborative robots that have to interact with people in a reactive way are difficult to program. This difficulty stems from the different skills required by the programmer: to provide an engaging user experience the behavior must include a sense of aesthetics while robustly operating in a continuously changing environment. The Playful framework allows composing such dynamic behaviors using a basic set of action and perception primitives. Within this framework, a behavior is encoded as a list of declarative statements corresponding to high-level sensory-motor couplings. To facilitate non-expert users to program such behaviors, we propose a Learning from Demonstration (LfD) technique that maps motion capture of humans directly to a Playful script. The approach proceeds by identifying the sensory-motor couplings that are active at each step using the Viterbi path in a Hidden Markov Model (HMM). Given these activation patterns, binary classifiers called evaluations are trained to associate activations to sensory data. Modularity is increased by clustering the sensory-motor couplings, leading to a hierarchical tree structure. The novelty of the proposed approach is that the learned behavior is encoded not in terms of trajectories in a task space, but as couplings between sensory information and high-level motor actions. This provides advantages in terms of behavioral generalization and reactivity displayed by the robot.

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Support Video link (url) [BibTex]


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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]


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From Variational to Deterministic Autoencoders

Ghosh*, P., Sajjadi*, M. S. M., Vergari, A., Black, M. J., Schölkopf, B.

2019, *equal contribution (conference) Submitted

Abstract
Variational Autoencoders (VAEs) provide a theoretically-backed framework for deep generative models. However, they often produce “blurry” images, which is linked to their training objective. Sampling in the most popular implementation, the Gaussian VAE, can be interpreted as simply injecting noise to the input of a deterministic decoder. In practice, this simply enforces a smooth latent space structure. We challenge the adoption of the full VAE framework on this specific point in favor of a simpler, deterministic one. Specifically, we investigate how substituting stochasticity with other explicit and implicit regularization schemes can lead to a meaningful latent space without having to force it to conform to an arbitrarily chosen prior. To retrieve a generative mechanism for sampling new data points, we propose to employ an efficient ex-post density estimation step that can be readily adopted both for the proposed deterministic autoencoders as well as to improve sample quality of existing VAEs. We show in a rigorous empirical study that regularized deterministic autoencoding achieves state-of-the-art sample quality on the common MNIST, CIFAR-10 and CelebA datasets.

ei ps

arXiv [BibTex]

2007


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Towards Machine Learning of Motor Skills

Peters, J., Schaal, S., Schölkopf, B.

In Proceedings of Autonome Mobile Systeme (AMS), pages: 138-144, (Editors: K Berns and T Luksch), 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Autonomous robots that can adapt to novel situations has been a long standing vision of robotics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive sciences. Early approaches to this goal during the heydays of artificial intelligence research in the late 1980s, however, made it clear that an approach purely based on reasoning or human insights would not be able to model all the perceptuomotor tasks that a robot should fulfill. Instead, new hope was put in the growing wake of machine learning that promised fully adaptive control algorithms which learn both by observation and trial-and-error. However, to date, learning techniques have yet to fulfill 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, and usually scaling was only achieved in precisely pre-structured domains. In this paper, we investigate the ingredients for a general approach to motor skill learning in order to get one step closer towards human-like performance. For doing so, we study two ma jor components for such an approach, i.e., firstly, a theoretically well-founded general approach to representing the required control structures for task representation and execution and, secondly, appropriate learning algorithms which can be applied in this setting.

am ei

PDF DOI [BibTex]

2007


PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Reinforcement Learning for Optimal Control of Arm Movements

Theodorou, E., Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of the 37st Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience., Neuroscience, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Every day motor behavior consists of a plethora of challenging motor skills from discrete movements such as reaching and throwing to rhythmic movements such as walking, drumming and running. How this plethora of motor skills can be learned remains an open question. In particular, is there any unifying computa-tional framework that could model the learning process of this variety of motor behaviors and at the same time be biologically plausible? In this work we aim to give an answer to these questions by providing a computational framework that unifies the learning mechanism of both rhythmic and discrete movements under optimization criteria, i.e., in a non-supervised trial-and-error fashion. Our suggested framework is based on Reinforcement Learning, which is mostly considered as too costly to be a plausible mechanism for learning com-plex limb movement. However, recent work on reinforcement learning with pol-icy gradients combined with parameterized movement primitives allows novel and more efficient algorithms. By using the representational power of such mo-tor primitives we show how rhythmic motor behaviors such as walking, squash-ing and drumming as well as discrete behaviors like reaching and grasping can be learned with biologically plausible algorithms. Using extensive simulations and by using different reward functions we provide results that support the hy-pothesis that Reinforcement Learning could be a viable candidate for motor learning of human motor behavior when other learning methods like supervised learning are not feasible.

am ei

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Reinforcement learning by reward-weighted regression for operational space control

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 24th Annual International Conference on Machine Learning, pages: 745-750, ICML, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Many robot control problems of practical importance, including operational space control, can be reformulated as immediate reward reinforcement learning problems. However, few of the known optimization or reinforcement learning algorithms can be used in online learning control for robots, as they are either prohibitively slow, do not scale to interesting domains of complex robots, or require trying out policies generated by random search, which are infeasible for a physical system. Using a generalization of the EM-base reinforcement learning framework suggested by Dayan & Hinton, we reduce the problem of learning with immediate rewards to a reward-weighted regression problem with an adaptive, integrated reward transformation for faster convergence. The resulting algorithm is efficient, learns smoothly without dangerous jumps in solution space, and works well in applications of complex high degree-of-freedom robots.

am ei

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Policy gradient methods for machine learning

Peters, J., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 14th INFORMS Conference of the Applied Probability Society, pages: 97-98, Eindhoven, Netherlands, July 9-11, 2007, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present an in-depth survey of policy gradient methods as they are used in the machine learning community for optimizing parameterized, stochastic control policies in Markovian systems with respect to the expected reward. Despite having been developed separately in the reinforcement learning literature, policy gradient methods employ likelihood ratio gradient estimators as also suggested in the stochastic simulation optimization community. It is well-known that this approach to policy gradient estimation traditionally suffers from three drawbacks, i.e., large variance, a strong dependence on baseline functions and a inefficient gradient descent. In this talk, we will present a series of recent results which tackles each of these problems. The variance of the gradient estimation can be reduced significantly through recently introduced techniques such as optimal baselines, compatible function approximations and all-action gradients. However, as even the analytically obtainable policy gradients perform unnaturally slow, it required the step from ÔvanillaÕ policy gradient methods towards natural policy gradients in order to overcome the inefficiency of the gradient descent. This development resulted into the Natural Actor-Critic architecture which can be shown to be very efficient in application to motor primitive learning for robotics.

am ei

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Policy Learning for Motor Skills

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of 14th International Conference on Neural Information Processing (ICONIP), pages: 233-242, (Editors: Ishikawa, M. , K. Doya, H. Miyamoto, T. Yamakawa), 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Policy learning which allows autonomous robots to adapt to novel situations has been a long standing vision of robotics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive sciences. However, to date, learning techniques have yet to fulfill 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, and usually scaling was only achieved in precisely pre-structured domains. In this paper, we investigate the ingredients for a general approach 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 algorithms 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 structures for task representation and execution.

am ei

PDF DOI [BibTex]

PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Reinforcement learning for operational space control

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 2007 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 2111-2116, IEEE Computer Society, ICRA, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
While operational space control is of essential importance for robotics and well-understood from an analytical point of view, it can be prohibitively hard to achieve accurate control in face of modeling errors, which are inevitable in complex robots, e.g., humanoid robots. In such cases, learning control methods can offer an interesting alternative to analytical control algorithms. However, the resulting supervised learning problem is ill-defined as it requires to learn an inverse mapping of a usually redundant system, which is well known to suffer from the property of non-convexity of the solution space, i.e., the learning system could generate motor commands that try to steer the robot into physically impossible configurations. The important insight that many operational space control algorithms can be reformulated as optimal control problems, however, allows addressing this inverse learning problem in the framework of reinforcement learning. However, few of the known optimization or reinforcement learning algorithms can be used in online learning control for robots, as they are either prohibitively slow, do not scale to interesting domains of complex robots, or require trying out policies generated by random search, which are infeasible for a physical system. Using a generalization of the EM-based reinforcement learning framework suggested by Dayan & Hinton, we reduce the problem of learning with immediate rewards to a reward-weighted regression problem with an adaptive, integrated reward transformation for faster convergence. The resulting algorithm is efficient, learns smoothly without dangerous jumps in solution space, and works well in applications of complex high degree-of-freedom robots.

am ei

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Relative Entropy Policy Search

Peters, J.

CLMC Technical Report: TR-CLMC-2007-2, Computational Learning and Motor Control Lab, Los Angeles, CA, 2007, clmc (techreport)

Abstract
This technical report describes a cute idea of how to create new policy search approaches. It directly relates to the Natural Actor-Critic methods but allows the derivation of one shot solutions. Future work may include the application to interesting problems.

am ei

PDF link (url) [BibTex]

PDF link (url) [BibTex]


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Using reward-weighted regression for reinforcement learning of task space control

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 2007 IEEE International Symposium on Approximate Dynamic Programming and Reinforcement Learning, pages: 262-267, Honolulu, Hawaii, April 1-5, 2007, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we evaluate different versions from the three main kinds of model-free policy gradient methods, i.e., finite difference gradients, `vanilla' policy gradients and natural policy gradients. Each of these methods is first presented in its simple form and subsequently refined and optimized. By carrying out numerous experiments on the cart pole regulator benchmark we aim to provide a useful baseline for future research on parameterized policy search algorithms. Portable C++ code is provided for both plant and algorithms; thus, the results in this paper can be reevaluated, reused and new algorithms can be inserted with ease.

am ei

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Evaluation of Policy Gradient Methods and Variants on the Cart-Pole Benchmark

Riedmiller, M., Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 2007 IEEE International Symposium on Approximate Dynamic Programming and Reinforcement Learning, pages: 254-261, ADPRL, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we evaluate different versions from the three main kinds of model-free policy gradient methods, i.e., finite difference gradients, `vanilla' policy gradients and natural policy gradients. Each of these methods is first presented in its simple form and subsequently refined and optimized. By carrying out numerous experiments on the cart pole regulator benchmark we aim to provide a useful baseline for future research on parameterized policy search algorithms. Portable C++ code is provided for both plant and algorithms; thus, the results in this paper can be reevaluated, reused and new algorithms can be inserted with ease.

am ei

PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Uncertain 3D Force Fields in Reaching Movements: Do Humans Favor Robust or Average Performance?

Mistry, M., Theodorou, E., Hoffmann, H., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of the 37th Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Applying the episodic natural actor-critic architecture to motor primitive learning

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 2007 European Symposium on Artificial Neural Networks (ESANN), Bruges, Belgium, April 25-27, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we investigate motor primitive learning with the Natural Actor-Critic approach. The Natural Actor-Critic consists out of actor updates which are achieved using natural stochastic policy gradients while the critic obtains the natural policy gradient by linear regression. We show that this architecture can be used to learn the Òbuilding blocks of movement generationÓ, called motor primitives. Motor primitives are parameterized control policies such as splines or nonlinear differential equations with desired attractor properties. We show that our most modern algorithm, the Episodic Natural Actor-Critic outperforms previous algorithms by at least an order of magnitude. We demonstrate the efficiency of this reinforcement learning method in the application of learning to hit a baseball with an anthropomorphic robot arm.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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The new robotics - towards human-centered machines

Schaal, S.

HFSP Journal Frontiers of Interdisciplinary Research in the Life Sciences, 1(2):115-126, 2007, clmc (article)

Abstract
Research in robotics has moved away from its primary focus on industrial applications. The New Robotics is a vision that has been developed in past years by our own university and many other national and international research instiutions and addresses how increasingly more human-like robots can live among us and take over tasks where our current society has shortcomings. Elder care, physical therapy, child education, search and rescue, and general assistance in daily life situations are some of the examples that will benefit from the New Robotics in the near future. With these goals in mind, research for the New Robotics has to embrace a broad interdisciplinary approach, ranging from traditional mathematical issues of robotics to novel issues in psychology, neuroscience, and ethics. This paper outlines some of the important research problems that will need to be resolved to make the New Robotics a reality.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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A computational model of human trajectory planning based on convergent flow fields

Hoffman, H., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of the 37st Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience, San Diego, CA, Nov. 3-7, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
A popular computational model suggests that smooth reaching movements are generated in humans by minimizing a difference vector between hand and target in visual coordinates (Shadmehr and Wise, 2005). To achieve such a task, the optimal joint accelerations may be pre-computed. However, this pre-planning is inflexible towards perturbations of the limb, and there is strong evidence that reaching movements can be modified on-line at any moment during the movement. Thus, next-state planning models (Bullock and Grossberg, 1988) have been suggested that compute the current control command from a function of the goal state such that the overall movement smoothly converges to the goal (see Shadmehr and Wise (2005) for an overview). So far, these models have been restricted to simple point-to-point reaching movements with (approximately) straight trajectories. Here, we present a computational model for learning and executing arbitrary trajectories that combines ideas from pattern generation with dynamic systems and the observation of convergent force fields, which control a frog leg after spinal stimulation (Giszter et al., 1993). In our model, we incorporate the following two observations: first, the orientation of vectors in a force field is invariant over time, but their amplitude is modulated by a time-varying function, and second, two force fields add up when stimulated simultaneously (Giszter et al., 1993). This addition of convergent force fields varying over time results in a virtual trajectory (a moving equilibrium point) that correlates with the actual leg movement (Giszter et al., 1993). Our next-state planner is a set of differential equations that provide the desired end-effector or joint accelerations using feedback of the current state of the limb. These accelerations can be interpreted as resulting from a damped spring that links the current limb position with a virtual trajectory. This virtual trajectory can be learned to realize any desired limb trajectory and velocity profile, and learning is efficient since the time-modulated sum of convergent force fields equals a sum of weighted basis functions (Gaussian time pulses). Thus, linear algebra is sufficient to compute these weights, which correspond to points on the virtual trajectory. During movement execution, the differential equation corrects automatically for perturbations and brings back smoothly the limb towards the goal. Virtual trajectories can be rescaled and added allowing to build a set of movement primitives to describe movements more complex than previously learned. We demonstrate the potential of the suggested model by learning and generating a wide variety of movements.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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A Computational Model of Arm Trajectory Modification Using Dynamic Movement Primitives

Mohajerian, P., Hoffmann, H., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of the 37st Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience, San Diego, CA, Nov 3-7, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Several scientists used a double-step target-displacement protocol to investigate how an unexpected upcoming new target modifies ongoing discrete movements. Interesting observations are the initial direction of the movement, the spatial path of the movement to the second target, and the amplification of the speed in the second movement. Experimental data show that the above properties are influenced by the movement reaction time and the interstimulus interval between the onset of the first and second target. Hypotheses in the literature concerning the interpretation of the observed data include a) the second movement is superimposed on the first movement (Henis and Flash, 1995), b) the first movement is aborted and the second movement is planned to smoothly connect the current state of the arm with the new target (Hoff and Arbib, 1992), c) the second movement is initiated by a new control signal that replaces the first movement's control signal, but does not take the state of the system into account (Flanagan et al., 1993), and (d) the second movement is initiated by a new goal command, but the control structure stays unchanged, and feed-back from the current state is taken into account (Hoff and Arbib, 1993). We investigate target switching from the viewpoint of Dynamic Movement Primitives (DMPs). DMPs are trajectory planning units that are formalized as stable nonlinear attractor systems (Ijspeert et al., 2002). They are a useful framework for biological motor control as they are highly flexible in creating complex rhythmic and discrete behaviors that can quickly adapt to the inevitable perturbations of dynamically changing, stochastic environments. In this model, target switching is accomplished simply by updating the target input to the discrete movement primitive for reaching. The reaching trajectory in this model can be straight or take any other route; in contrast, the Hoff and Arbib (1993) model is restricted to straight reaching movement plans. In the present study, we use DMPs to reproduce in simulation a large number of target-switching experimental data from the literature and to show that online correction and the observed target switching phenomena can be accomplished by changing the goal state of an on-going DMP, without the need to switch to different movement primitives or to re-plan the movement. :

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Inverse dynamics control with floating base and constraints

Nakanishi, J., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

In International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA2007), pages: 1942-1947, Rome, Italy, April 10-14, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we address the issues of compliant control of a robot under contact constraints with a goal of using joint space based pattern generators as movement primitives, as often considered in the studies of legged locomotion and biological motor control. For this purpose, we explore inverse dynamics control of constrained dynamical systems. When the system is overconstrained, it is not straightforward to formulate an inverse dynamics control law since the problem becomes an ill-posed one, where infinitely many combinations of joint torques are possible to achieve the desired joint accelerations. The goal of this paper is to develop a general and computationally efficient inverse dynamics algorithm for a robot with a free floating base and constraints. We suggest an approximate way of computing inverse dynamics algorithm by treating constraint forces computed with a Lagrange multiplier method as simply external forces based on FeatherstoneÕs floating base formulation of inverse dynamics. We present how all the necessary quantities to compute our controller can be efficiently extracted from FeatherstoneÕs spatial notation of robot dynamics. We evaluate the effectiveness of the suggested approach on a simulated biped robot model.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Dynamics systems vs. optimal control ? a unifying view

Schaal, S, Mohajerian, P., Ijspeert, A.

In Progress in Brain Research, (165):425-445, 2007, clmc (inbook)

Abstract
In the past, computational motor control has been approached from at least two major frameworks: the dynamic systems approach and the viewpoint of optimal control. The dynamic system approach emphasizes motor control as a process of self-organization between an animal and its environment. Nonlinear differential equations that can model entrainment and synchronization behavior are among the most favorable tools of dynamic systems modelers. In contrast, optimal control approaches view motor control as the evolutionary or development result of a nervous system that tries to optimize rather general organizational principles, e.g., energy consumption or accurate task achievement. Optimal control theory is usually employed to develop appropriate theories. Interestingly, there is rather little interaction between dynamic systems and optimal control modelers as the two approaches follow rather different philosophies and are often viewed as diametrically opposing. In this paper, we develop a computational approach to motor control that offers a unifying modeling framework for both dynamic systems and optimal control approaches. In discussions of several behavioral experiments and some theoretical and robotics studies, we demonstrate how our computational ideas allow both the representation of self-organizing processes and the optimization of movement based on reward criteria. Our modeling framework is rather simple and general, and opens opportunities to revisit many previous modeling results from this novel unifying view.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Kernel carpentry for onlne regression using randomly varying coefficient model

Edakunni, N. U., Schaal, S., Vijayakumar, S.

In Proceedings of the 20th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Hyderabad, India: Jan. 6-12, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present a Bayesian formulation of locally weighted learning (LWL) using the novel concept of a randomly varying coefficient model. Based on this, we propose a mechanism for multivariate non-linear regression using spatially localised linear models that learns completely independent of each other, uses only local information and adapts the local model complexity in a data driven fashion. We derive online updates for the model parameters based on variational Bayesian EM. The evaluation of the proposed algorithm against other state-of-the-art methods reveal the excellent, robust generalization performance beside surprisingly efficient time and space complexity properties. This paper, for the first time, brings together the computational efficiency and the adaptability of Õnon-competitiveÕ locally weighted learning schemes and the modeling guarantees of the Bayesian formulation.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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A robust quadruped walking gait for traversing rough terrain

Pongas, D., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

In International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA2007), pages: 1474-1479, Rome, April 10-14, 2007, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Legged locomotion excels when terrains become too rough for wheeled systems or open-loop walking pattern generators to succeed, i.e., when accurate foot placement is of primary importance in successfully reaching the task goal. In this paper we address the scenario where the rough terrain is traversed with a static walking gait, and where for every foot placement of a leg, the location of the foot placement was selected irregularly by a planning algorithm. Our goal is to adjust a smooth walking pattern generator with the selection of every foot placement such that the COG of the robot follows a stable trajectory characterized by a stability margin relative to the current support triangle. We propose a novel parameterization of the COG trajectory based on the current position, velocity, and acceleration of the four legs of the robot. This COG trajectory has guaranteed continuous velocity and acceleration profiles, which leads to continuous velocity and acceleration profiles of the leg movement, which is ideally suited for advanced model-based controllers. Pitch, yaw, and ground clearance of the robot are easily adjusted automatically under any terrain situation. We evaluate our gait generation technique on the Little-Dog quadruped robot when traversing complex rocky and sloped terrains.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Bayesian Nonparametric Regression with Local Models

Ting, J., Schaal, S.

In Workshop on Robotic Challenges for Machine Learning, NIPS 2007, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Learning an Outlier-Robust Kalman Filter

Ting, J., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

CLMC Technical Report: TR-CLMC-2007-1, Los Angeles, CA, 2007, clmc (techreport)

Abstract
We introduce a modified Kalman filter that performs robust, real-time outlier detection, without the need for manual parameter tuning by the user. Systems that rely on high quality sensory data (for instance, robotic systems) can be sensitive to data containing outliers. The standard Kalman filter is not robust to outliers, and other variations of the Kalman filter have been proposed to overcome this issue. However, these methods may require manual parameter tuning, use of heuristics or complicated parameter estimation procedures. Our Kalman filter uses a weighted least squares-like approach by introducing weights for each data sample. A data sample with a smaller weight has a weaker contribution when estimating the current time step?s state. Using an incremental variational Expectation-Maximization framework, we learn the weights and system dynamics. We evaluate our Kalman filter algorithm on data from a robotic dog.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Task space control with prioritization for balance and locomotion

Mistry, M., Nakanishi, J., Schaal, S.

In IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robotics Systems (IROS 2007), San Diego, CA: Oct. 29 Ð Nov. 2, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper addresses locomotion with active balancing, via task space control with prioritization. The center of gravity (COG) and foot of the swing leg are treated as task space control points. Floating base inverse kinematics with constraints is employed, thereby allowing for a mobile platform suitable for locomotion. Different techniques of task prioritization are discussed and we clarify differences and similarities of previous suggested work. Varying levels of prioritization for control are examined with emphasis on singularity robustness and the negative effects of constraint switching. A novel controller for task space control of balance and locomotion is developed which attempts to address singularity robustness, while minimizing discontinuities created by constraint switching. Controllers are evaluated using a quadruped robot simulator engaging in a locomotion task.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]

1998


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Programmable pattern generators

Schaal, S., Sternad, D.

In 3rd International Conference on Computational Intelligence in Neuroscience, pages: 48-51, Research Triangle Park, NC, Oct. 24-28, October 1998, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper explores the idea to create complex human-like arm movements from movement primitives based on nonlinear attractor dynamics. Each degree-of-freedom of an arm is assumed to have two independent abilities to create movement, one through a discrete dynamic system, and one through a rhythmic system. The discrete system creates point-to-point movements based on internal or external target specifications. The rhythmic system can add an additional oscillatory movement relative to the current position of the discrete system. In the present study, we develop appropriate dynamic systems that can realize the above model, motivate the particular choice of the systems from a biological and engineering point of view, and present simulation results of the performance of such movement primitives. Implementation results on a Sarcos Dexterous Arm are discussed.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

1998


link (url) [BibTex]


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Robust local learning in high dimensional spaces

Vijayakumar, S., Schaal, S.

In 5th Joint Symposium on Neural Computation, pages: 186-193, Institute for Neural Computation, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, 1998, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Incremental learning of sensorimotor transformations in high dimensional spaces is one of the basic prerequisites for the success of autonomous robot devices as well as biological movement systems. So far, due to sparsity of data in high dimensional spaces, learning in such settings requires a significant amount of prior knowledge about the learning task, usually provided by a human expert. In this paper, we suggest a partial revision of this view. Based on empirical studies, we observed that, despite being globally high dimensional and sparse, data distributions from physical movement systems are locally low dimensional and dense. Under this assumption, we derive a learning algorithm, Locally Adaptive Subspace Regression, that exploits this property by combining a dynamically growing local dimensionality reduction technique as a preprocessing step with a nonparametric learning technique, locally weighted regression, that also learns the region of validity of the regression. The usefulness of the algorithm and the validity of its assumptions are illustrated for a synthetic data set, and for data of the inverse dynamics of human arm movements and an actual 7 degree-of-freedom anthropomorphic robot arm.

am

[BibTex]

[BibTex]