Press Pack

Press Pack

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A Comparison of Casting and Spiraling Algorithms for Odor Source Localization in Laminar Flow

  • Authors: Lochmatter, Thomas; Raemy, Xavier; Matthey, Loïc; Indra, Saurabh; Martinoli, Alcherio

We compare two well-known algorithms for locating odor sources in environments with a main wind flow. Their plume tracking performance is tested through systematic experiments with real robots in a wind tunnel under laminar flow condition. We present the system setup and show the wind and odor profiles. The results are then compared in terms of time and distance to reach the source, as well as speed in upwind direction. We conclude that the spiral- surge algorithm yields significantly better results than the casting algorithm, and discuss possible rationales behind this performance difference.

Posted on: February 9, 2008

A Comparison of PSO and Reinforcement Learning for Multi-Robot Obstacle Avoidance

  • Authors: Di Mario, Ezequiel; Talebpour, Zeynab; Martinoli, Alcherio

The design of high-performing robotic controllers constitutes an example of expensive optimization in uncertain environments due to the often large parameter space and noisy performance metrics. There are several evaluative techniques that can be employed for on-line controller design. Adequate benchmarks help in the choice of the right algorithm in terms of final performance and evaluation time. In this paper, we use multi-robot obstacle avoidance as a benchmark to compare two different evaluative learning techniques: Particle Swarm Optimization and Q-learning. For Q-learning, we implement two different approaches: one with discrete states and discrete actions, and another one with discrete actions but a continuous state space. We show that continuous PSO has the highest fitness overall, and Q-learning with continuous states performs significantly better than Q-learning with discrete states. We also show that in the single robot case, PSO and Q-learning with discrete states require a similar amount of total learning time to converge, while the time required with Q-learning with continuous states is significantly larger. In the multi-robot case, both Q-learning approaches require a similar amount of time as in the single robot case, but the time required by PSO can be significantly reduced due to the distributed nature of the algorithm.

Posted on: May 20, 2013

A neurorobotic platform for locomotor prosthetic development in rats and mice

  • Authors: Von Zitzewitz, Joachim; Asboth, Leonie; Fumeaux, Nicolas; Hasse, Alexander; Baud, Laetitia; Vallery, Heike; Courtine, Grégoire

Objectives. We aimed to develop a robotic interface capable of providing finely-tuned, multidirectional trunk assistance adjusted in real-time during unconstrained locomotion in rats and mice. Approach. We interfaced a large-scale robotic structure actuated in four degrees of freedom to exchangeable attachment modules exhibiting selective compliance along distinct directions. This combination allowed high-precision force and torque control in multiple directions over a large workspace. We next designed a neurorobotic platform wherein real-time kinematics and physiological signals directly adjust robotic actuation and prosthetic actions. We tested the performance of this platform in both rats and mice with spinal cord injury. Main Results. Kinematic analyses showed that the robotic interface did not impede locomotor movements of lightweight mice that walked freely along paths with changing directions and height profiles. Personalized trunk assistance instantly enabled coordinated locomotion in mice and rats with severe hindlimb motor deficits. Closed-loop control of robotic actuation based on ongoing movement features enabled real-time control of electromyographic activity in anti-gravity muscles during locomotion. Significance. This neurorobotic platform will support the study of the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of locomotor prosthetics and rehabilitation using high-resolution genetic tools in rodent models.

Posted on: February 24, 2016

Adaptive pulsed laser line extraction for terrain reconstruction using a dynamic vision sensor

  • Authors: Brandli, Christian; Mantel, Thomas A.; Hutter, Marco; Höpflinger, Markus A.; Berner, Raphael; Siegwart, Roland; Delbruck, Tobi

Mobile robots need to know the terrain in which they are moving for path planning and obstacle avoidance. This paper proposes the combination of a bio-inspired, redundancy-suppressing dynamic vision sensor (DVS) with a pulsed line laser to allow fast terrain reconstruction. A stable laser stripe extraction is achieved by exploiting the sensor’s ability to capture the temporal dynamics in a scene. An adaptive temporal filter for the sensor output allows a reliable reconstruction of 3D terrain surfaces. Laser stripe extractions up to pulsing frequencies of 500 Hz were achieved using a line laser of 3 mW at a distance of 45 cm using an event-based algorithm that exploits the sparseness of the sensor output. As a proof of concept, unstructured rapid prototype terrain samples have been successfully reconstructed with an accuracy of 2 mm.

Posted on: July 30, 2014

Bimanual Compliant Tactile Exploration for Grasping Unknown Objects

  • Authors: Sommer, Nicolas; Li, Miao; Billard, Aude

Humans have an incredible capacity to learn properties of objects by pure tactile exploration with their two hands. With robots moving into human-centred environment, tactile exploration becomes more and more important as vision may be occluded easily by obstacles or fail because of different illumination conditions. In this paper, we present our first results on bimanual compliant tactile exploration, with the goal to identify objects and grasp them. An exploration strategy is proposed to guide the motion of the two arms and fingers along the object. From this tactile exploration, a point cloud is obtained for each object. As the point cloud is intrinsically noisy and un-uniformly distributed, a filter based on Gaussian Processes is proposed to smooth the data. This data is used at runtime for object identification. Experiments on an iCub humanoid robot have been conducted to validate our approach.

Posted on: February 17, 2014

Brain-Controlled Wheelchairs: A Robotic Architecture

  • Authors: Carlson, Tom; Millán, José del R.

Independent mobility is core to being able to perform activities of daily living by oneself. However, powered wheelchairs are not an option for a large number of people who are unable to use conventional interfaces, due to severe motor–disabilities. Non-invasive brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) offer a promising solution to this interaction problem and in this article we present a shared control architecture that couples the intelligence and desires of the user with the precision of a powered wheelchair. We show how four healthy subjects are able to master control of the wheelchair using an asynchronous motor–imagery based BCI protocol and how this results in a higher overall task performance, compared with alternative synchronous P300–based approaches.

Posted on: October 9, 2012

Climbing favours the tripod gait over alternative faster insect gaits

  • Authors: Ramdya, Pavan; Thandiackal, Robin; Cherney, Raphael; Asselborn, Thibault; Benton, Richard; Ijspeert, Auke; Floreano, Dario

To escape danger or catch prey, running vertebrates rely on dynamic gaits with minimal ground contact. By contrast, most insects use a tripod gait that maintains at least three legs on the ground at any given time. One prevailing hypothesis for this difference in fast locomotor strategies is that tripod locomotion allows insects to rapidly navigate three-dimensional terrain. To test this, we computationally discovered fast locomotor gaits for a model based on Drosophila melanogaster. Indeed, the tripod gait emerges to the exclusion of many other possible gaits when optimizing fast upward climbing with leg adhesion. By contrast, novel two-legged bipod gaits are fastest on flat terrain without adhesion in the model and in a hexapod robot. Intriguingly, when adhesive leg structures in real Drosophila are covered, animals exhibit atypical bipod-like leg coordination. We propose that the requirement to climb vertical terrain may drive the prevalence of the tripod gait over faster alternative gaits with minimal ground contact.

Posted on: February 18, 2017

Contact-based navigation for an autonomous flying robot

  • Authors: Briod, Adrien; Kornatowski, Przemyslaw Mariusz; Klaptocz, Adam; Garnier, Arnaud; Pagnamenta, Marco; Zufferey, Jean-Christophe; Floreano, Dario

Autonomous navigation in obstacle-dense indoor environments is very challenging for flying robots due to the high risk of collisions, which may lead to mechanical damage of the platform and eventual failure of the mission. While conventional approaches in autonomous navigation favor obstacle avoidance strategies, recent work showed that collision-robust flying robots could hit obstacles without breaking and even self-recover after a crash to the ground. This approach is particularly interesting for autonomous navigation in complex environments where collisions are unavoidable, or for reducing the sensing and control complexity involved in obstacle avoidance. This paper aims at showing that collision-robust platforms can go a step further and exploit contacts with the environment to achieve useful navigation tasks based on the sense of touch. This approach is typically useful when weight restrictions prevent the use of heavier sensors, or as a low-level detection mechanism supplementing other sensing modalities. In this paper, a solution based on force and inertial sensors used to detect obstacles all around the robot is presented. Eight miniature force sensors, weighting 0.9g each, are integrated in the structure of a collision-robust flying platform without affecting its robustness. A proof-of-concept experiment demonstrates the use of contact sensing for exploring autonomously a room in 3D, showing significant advantages compared to a previous strategy. To our knowledge this is the first fully autonomous flying robot using touch sensors as only exteroceptive sensors.

Posted on: July 1, 2013

IniRobot : a pedagogical kit to initiate children to concepts of robotics and computer science

  • Authors: Roy, Didier; Oudeyer, Pierre-Yves; Magnenat, Stéphane; Riedo, Fanny; Gerber, Gordana; Chevalier, Morgane Solène Denise; Mondada, Francesco

We present the IniRobot pedagogical kit, conceived and deployed within French and Swiss primary schools for the initiation to robotics and computer science. It provides a microworld for learning, and takes an enquiry-based educational approach, where kids are led to construct their understanding through practicing an active investigation methodology within teams. It is based on the use of the Thymio II robotic platform. The paper presents the detailed pedagogical objectives and a first measure of results showing that children acquired several robotics-related concepts.

Posted on: April 21, 2015