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2016


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Equipping the Baxter Robot with Human-Inspired Hand-Clapping Skills

Fitter, N. T., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, pages: 105-112, August 2016, Oral presentation given by Fitter (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

2016


[BibTex]


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Targeting of cell mockups using sperm-shaped microrobots in vitro

Khalil, I. S., Tabak, A. F., Hosney, A., Klingner, A., Shalaby, M., Abdel-Kader, R. M., Serry, M., Sitti, M.

In Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob), 2016 6th IEEE International Conference on, pages: 495-501, July 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Sperm-shaped microrobots are controlled under the influence of weak oscillating magnetic fields (milliTesla range) to selectively target cell mockups (i.e., gas bubbles with average diameter of 200 μm). The sperm-shaped microrobots are fabricated by electrospinning using a solution of polystyrene, dimethylformamide, and iron oxide nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are concentrated within the head of the microrobot, and hence enable directional control along external magnetic fields. The magnetic dipole moment of the microrobot is characterized (using the flip-time technique) to be 1.4×10-11 A.m2, at magnetic field of 28 mT. In addition, the morphology of the microrobot is characterized using Scanning Electron Microscopy images. The characterized parameters and morphology are used in the simulation of the locomotion mechanism of the microrobot to prove that its motion depends on breaking the time-reversal symmetry, rather than pulling with the magnetic field gradient. We experimentally demonstrate that the microrobot can controllably follow S-shaped, U-shaped, and square paths, and selectively target the cell mockups using image guidance and under the influence of the oscillating magnetic fields.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Soft continuous microrobots with multiple intrinsic degrees of freedom

Palagi, S., Mark, A. G., Melde, K., Zeng, H., Parmeggiani, C., Martella, D., Wiersma, D. S., Fischer, P.

In 2016 International Conference on Manipulation, Automation and Robotics at Small Scales (MARSS), pages: 1-5, July 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
One of the main challenges in the development of microrobots, i.e. robots at the sub-millimeter scale, is the difficulty of adopting traditional solutions for power, control and, especially, actuation. As a result, most current microrobots are directly manipulated by external fields, and possess only a few passive degrees of freedom (DOFs). We have reported a strategy that enables embodiment, remote powering and control of a large number of DOFs in mobile soft microrobots. These consist of photo-responsive materials, such that the actuation of their soft continuous body can be selectively and dynamically controlled by structured light fields. Here we use finite-element modelling to evaluate the effective number of DOFs that are addressable in our microrobots. We also demonstrate that by this flexible approach different actuation patterns can be obtained, and thus different locomotion performances can be achieved within the very same microrobot. The reported results confirm the versatility of the proposed approach, which allows for easy application-specific optimization and online reconfiguration of the microrobot's behavior. Such versatility will enable advanced applications of robotics and automation at the micro scale.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Analysis of the magnetic torque on a tilted permanent magnet for drug delivery in capsule robots

Munoz, F., Alici, G., Zhou, H., Li, W., Sitti, M.

In Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM), 2016 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 1386-1391, July 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we present the analysis of the torque transmitted to a tilted permanent magnet that is to be embedded in a capsule robot to achieve targeted drug delivery. This analysis is carried out by using an analytical model and experimental results for a small cubic permanent magnet that is driven by an external magnetic system made of an array of arc-shaped permanent magnets (ASMs). Our experimental results, which are in agreement with the analytical results, show that the cubic permanent magnet can safely be actuated for inclinations lower than 75° without having to make positional adjustments in the external magnetic system. We have found that with further inclinations, the cubic permanent magnet to be embedded in a drug delivery mechanism may stall. When it stalls, the external magnetic system's position and orientation would have to be adjusted to actuate the cubic permanent magnet and the drug release mechanism. This analysis of the transmitted torque is helpful for the development of real-time control strategies for magnetically articulated devices.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Non-parametric Models for Structured Data and Applications to Human Bodies and Natural Scenes

Lehrmann, A.

ETH Zurich, July 2016 (phdthesis)

Abstract
The purpose of this thesis is the study of non-parametric models for structured data and their fields of application in computer vision. We aim at the development of context-sensitive architectures which are both expressive and efficient. Our focus is on directed graphical models, in particular Bayesian networks, where we combine the flexibility of non-parametric local distributions with the efficiency of a global topology with bounded treewidth. A bound on the treewidth is obtained by either constraining the maximum indegree of the underlying graph structure or by introducing determinism. The non-parametric distributions in the nodes of the graph are given by decision trees or kernel density estimators. The information flow implied by specific network topologies, especially the resultant (conditional) independencies, allows for a natural integration and control of contextual information. We distinguish between three different types of context: static, dynamic, and semantic. In four different approaches we propose models which exhibit varying combinations of these contextual properties and allow modeling of structured data in space, time, and hierarchies derived thereof. The generative character of the presented models enables a direct synthesis of plausible hypotheses. Extensive experiments validate the developed models in two application scenarios which are of particular interest in computer vision: human bodies and natural scenes. In the practical sections of this work we discuss both areas from different angles and show applications of our models to human pose, motion, and segmentation as well as object categorization and localization. Here, we benefit from the availability of modern datasets of unprecedented size and diversity. Comparisons to traditional approaches and state-of-the-art research on the basis of well-established evaluation criteria allows the objective assessment of our contributions.

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pdf [BibTex]


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Magnetic propulsion of robotic sperms at low-Reynolds number

Khalil, I. S., Fatih Tabak, A., Klingner, A., Sitti, M.

Applied Physics Letters, 109(3):033701, AIP Publishing, July 2016 (article)

Abstract
We investigate the microswimming behaviour of robotic sperms in viscous fluids. These robotic sperms are fabricated from polystyrene dissolved in dimethyl formamide and iron-oxide nanoparticles. This composition allows the nanoparticles to be concentrated within the bead of the robotic sperm and provide magnetic dipole, whereas the flexibility of the ultra-thin tail enables flagellated locomotion using magnetic fields in millitesla range. We show that these robotic sperms have similar morphology and swimming behaviour to those of sperm cells. Moreover, we show experimentally that our robotic sperms swim controllably at an average speed of approximately one body length per second (around 125 μm s−1), and they are relatively faster than the microswimmers that depend on planar wave propulsion in low-Reynolds number fluids.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Active Nanorheology with Plasmonics

Hyeon-Ho, J., Mark, A. G., Lee, T., Alarcon-Correa, M., Eslami, S., Qiu, T., Gibbs, J. G., Fischer, P.

NANO LETTERS, 16(8):4887-4894, July 2016 (article)

Abstract
Nanoplasmonic systems are valued for their strong optical response and their small size. Most plasmonic sensors and systems to date have been rigid and passive. However, rendering these structures dynamic opens new possibilities for applications. Here we demonstrate that dynamic plasmonic nanoparticles can be used as mechanical sensors to selectively probe the rheological properties of a fluid in situ at the nanoscale and in microscopic volumes. We fabricate chiral magneto-plasmonic nanocolloids that can be actuated by an external magnetic field, which in turn allows for the direct and fast modulation of their distinct optical response. The method is robust and allows nanorheological measurements with a mechanical sensitivity of similar to 0.1 cP, even in strongly absorbing fluids with an optical density of up to OD similar to 3 (similar to 0.1\% light transmittance) and in the presence of scatterers (e.g., 50\% v/v red blood cells).

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DOI [BibTex]


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Dynamic baseline stereo vision-based cooperative target tracking

Ahmad, A., Ruff, E., Bülthoff, H.

19th International Conference on Information Fusion, pages: 1728-1734, July 2016 (conference)

Abstract
In this article we present a new method for multi-robot cooperative target tracking based on dynamic baseline stereo vision. The core novelty of our approach includes a computationally light-weight scheme to compute the 3D stereo measurements that exactly satisfy the epipolar constraints and a covariance intersection (CI)-based method to fuse the 3D measurements obtained by each individual robot. Using CI we are able to systematically integrate the robot localization uncertainties as well as the uncertainties in the measurements generated by the monocular camera images from each individual robot into the resulting stereo measurements. Through an extensive set of simulation and real robot results we show the robustness and accuracy of our approach with respect to ground truth. The source code related to this article is publicly accessible on our website and the datasets are available on request.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Body Talk: Crowdshaping Realistic 3D Avatars with Words

Streuber, S., Quiros-Ramirez, M. A., Hill, M. Q., Hahn, C. A., Zuffi, S., O’Toole, A., Black, M. J.

ACM Trans. Graph. (Proc. SIGGRAPH), 35(4):54:1-54:14, July 2016 (article)

Abstract
Realistic, metrically accurate, 3D human avatars are useful for games, shopping, virtual reality, and health applications. Such avatars are not in wide use because solutions for creating them from high-end scanners, low-cost range cameras, and tailoring measurements all have limitations. Here we propose a simple solution and show that it is surprisingly accurate. We use crowdsourcing to generate attribute ratings of 3D body shapes corresponding to standard linguistic descriptions of 3D shape. We then learn a linear function relating these ratings to 3D human shape parameters. Given an image of a new body, we again turn to the crowd for ratings of the body shape. The collection of linguistic ratings of a photograph provides remarkably strong constraints on the metric 3D shape. We call the process crowdshaping and show that our Body Talk system produces shapes that are perceptually indistinguishable from bodies created from high-resolution scans and that the metric accuracy is sufficient for many tasks. This makes body “scanning” practical without a scanner, opening up new applications including database search, visualization, and extracting avatars from books.

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pdf web tool video talk (ppt) Project Page [BibTex]

pdf web tool video talk (ppt) Project Page [BibTex]


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Robust Gaussian Filtering using a Pseudo Measurement

Wüthrich, M., Garcia Cifuentes, C., Trimpe, S., Meier, F., Bohg, J., Issac, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the American Control Conference, Boston, MA, USA, July 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Most widely-used state estimation algorithms, such as the Extended Kalman Filter and the Unscented Kalman Filter, belong to the family of Gaussian Filters (GF). Unfortunately, GFs fail if the measurement process is modelled by a fat-tailed distribution. This is a severe limitation, because thin-tailed measurement models, such as the analytically-convenient and therefore widely-used Gaussian distribution, are sensitive to outliers. In this paper, we show that mapping the measurements into a specific feature space enables any existing GF algorithm to work with fat-tailed measurement models. We find a feature function which is optimal under certain conditions. Simulation results show that the proposed method allows for robust filtering in both linear and nonlinear systems with measurements contaminated by fat-tailed noise.

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Web link (url) DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Reproducing a Laser Pointer Dot on a Secondary Projected Screen

Hu, S., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM), pages: 1645-1650, July 2016, Oral presentation given by Hu (inproceedings)

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Six-degree-of-freedom magnetic actuation for wireless microrobotics

Diller, E., Giltinan, J., Lum, G. Z., Ye, Z., Sitti, M.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 35(1-3):114-128, SAGE Publications Sage UK: London, England, June 2016 (article)

Abstract
Existing remotely actuated magnetic microrobots exhibit a maximum of only five-degree-of-freedom (DOF) actuation, as creation of a driving torque about the microrobot magnetization axis is not achievable. This lack of full orientation control limits the effectiveness of existing microrobots for precision tasks of object manipulation and orientation for advanced medical, biological and micromanufacturing applications. This paper presents a magnetic actuation method that allows remotely powered microrobots to achieve full six-DOF actuation by considering the case of a non-uniform magnetization profile within the microrobot body. This non-uniform magnetization allows for additional rigid-body torques to be induced from magnetic forces via a moment arm. A general analytical model presents the working principle for continuous and discrete magnetization profiles, which is applied to permanent or non-permanent (soft) magnet bodies. Several discrete-magnetization designs are also presented which possess reduced coupling between magnetic forces and induced rigid-body torques. Design guidelines are introduced which can be followed to ensure that a magnetic microrobot design is capable of six-DOF actuation. A simple permanent-magnet prototype is fabricated and used to quantitatively demonstrate the accuracy of the analytical model in a constrained-DOF environment and qualitatively for free motion in a viscous liquid three-dimensional environment. Results show that desired forces and torques can be created with high precision and limited parasitic actuation, allowing for full six-DOF actuation using limited feedback control

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Capturing Hands in Action using Discriminative Salient Points and Physics Simulation

Tzionas, D., Ballan, L., Srikantha, A., Aponte, P., Pollefeys, M., Gall, J.

International Journal of Computer Vision (IJCV), 118(2):172-193, June 2016 (article)

Abstract
Hand motion capture is a popular research field, recently gaining more attention due to the ubiquity of RGB-D sensors. However, even most recent approaches focus on the case of a single isolated hand. In this work, we focus on hands that interact with other hands or objects and present a framework that successfully captures motion in such interaction scenarios for both rigid and articulated objects. Our framework combines a generative model with discriminatively trained salient points to achieve a low tracking error and with collision detection and physics simulation to achieve physically plausible estimates even in case of occlusions and missing visual data. Since all components are unified in a single objective function which is almost everywhere differentiable, it can be optimized with standard optimization techniques. Our approach works for monocular RGB-D sequences as well as setups with multiple synchronized RGB cameras. For a qualitative and quantitative evaluation, we captured 29 sequences with a large variety of interactions and up to 150 degrees of freedom.

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Website pdf link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

Website pdf link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Optical Flow with Semantic Segmentation and Localized Layers

Sevilla-Lara, L., Sun, D., Jampani, V., Black, M. J.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 3889-3898, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Existing optical flow methods make generic, spatially homogeneous, assumptions about the spatial structure of the flow. In reality, optical flow varies across an image depending on object class. Simply put, different objects move differently. Here we exploit recent advances in static semantic scene segmentation to segment the image into objects of different types. We define different models of image motion in these regions depending on the type of object. For example, we model the motion on roads with homographies, vegetation with spatially smooth flow, and independently moving objects like cars and planes with affine motion plus deviations. We then pose the flow estimation problem using a novel formulation of localized layers, which addresses limitations of traditional layered models for dealing with complex scene motion. Our semantic flow method achieves the lowest error of any published monocular method in the KITTI-2015 flow benchmark and produces qualitatively better flow and segmentation than recent top methods on a wide range of natural videos.

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video Kitti Precomputed Data (1.6GB) pdf YouTube Sequences Code Project Page [BibTex]

video Kitti Precomputed Data (1.6GB) pdf YouTube Sequences Code Project Page [BibTex]


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Video segmentation via object flow

Tsai, Y., Yang, M., Black, M. J.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Video object segmentation is challenging due to fast moving objects, deforming shapes, and cluttered backgrounds. Optical flow can be used to propagate an object segmentation over time but, unfortunately, flow is often inaccurate, particularly around object boundaries. Such boundaries are precisely where we want our segmentation to be accurate. To obtain accurate segmentation across time, we propose an efficient algorithm that considers video segmentation and optical flow estimation simultaneously. For video segmentation, we formulate a principled, multiscale, spatio-temporal objective function that uses optical flow to propagate information between frames. For optical flow estimation, particularly at object boundaries, we compute the flow independently in the segmented regions and recompose the results. We call the process object flow and demonstrate the effectiveness of jointly optimizing optical flow and video segmentation using an iterative scheme. Experiments on the SegTrack v2 and Youtube-Objects datasets show that the proposed algorithm performs favorably against the other state-of-the-art methods.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Patches, Planes and Probabilities: A Non-local Prior for Volumetric 3D Reconstruction

Ulusoy, A. O., Black, M. J., Geiger, A.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we propose a non-local structured prior for volumetric multi-view 3D reconstruction. Towards this goal, we present a novel Markov random field model based on ray potentials in which assumptions about large 3D surface patches such as planarity or Manhattan world constraints can be efficiently encoded as probabilistic priors. We further derive an inference algorithm that reasons jointly about voxels, pixels and image segments, and estimates marginal distributions of appearance, occupancy, depth, normals and planarity. Key to tractable inference is a novel hybrid representation that spans both voxel and pixel space and that integrates non-local information from 2D image segmentations in a principled way. We compare our non-local prior to commonly employed local smoothness assumptions and a variety of state-of-the-art volumetric reconstruction baselines on challenging outdoor scenes with textureless and reflective surfaces. Our experiments indicate that regularizing over larger distances has the potential to resolve ambiguities where local regularizers fail.

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YouTube pdf poster suppmat Project Page [BibTex]

YouTube pdf poster suppmat Project Page [BibTex]


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Learning Sparse High Dimensional Filters: Image Filtering, Dense CRFs and Bilateral Neural Networks

Jampani, V., Kiefel, M., Gehler, P. V.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 4452-4461, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Bilateral filters have wide spread use due to their edge-preserving properties. The common use case is to manually choose a parametric filter type, usually a Gaussian filter. In this paper, we will generalize the parametrization and in particular derive a gradient descent algorithm so the filter parameters can be learned from data. This derivation allows to learn high dimensional linear filters that operate in sparsely populated feature spaces. We build on the permutohedral lattice construction for efficient filtering. The ability to learn more general forms of high-dimensional filters can be used in several diverse applications. First, we demonstrate the use in applications where single filter applications are desired for runtime reasons. Further, we show how this algorithm can be used to learn the pairwise potentials in densely connected conditional random fields and apply these to different image segmentation tasks. Finally, we introduce layers of bilateral filters in CNNs and propose bilateral neural networks for the use of high-dimensional sparse data. This view provides new ways to encode model structure into network architectures. A diverse set of experiments empirically validates the usage of general forms of filters.

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project page code CVF open-access pdf supplementary poster [BibTex]

project page code CVF open-access pdf supplementary poster [BibTex]


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DeepCut: Joint Subset Partition and Labeling for Multi Person Pose Estimation

Pishchulin, L., Insafutdinov, E., Tang, S., Andres, B., Andriluka, M., Gehler, P., Schiele, B.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper considers the task of articulated human pose estimation of multiple people in real-world images. We propose an approach that jointly solves the tasks of detection and pose estimation: it infers the number of persons in a scene, identifies occluded body parts, and disambiguates body parts between people in close proximity of each other. This joint formulation is in contrast to previous strategies, that address the problem by first detecting people and subsequently estimating their body pose. We propose a partitioning and labeling formulation of a set of body-part hypotheses generated with CNN-based part detectors. Our formulation, an instance of an integer linear program, implicitly performs non-maximum suppression on the set of part candidates and groups them to form configurations of body parts respecting geometric and appearance constraints. Experiments on four different datasets demonstrate state-of-the-art results for both single person and multi person pose estimation.

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code pdf supplementary [BibTex]

code pdf supplementary [BibTex]


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Occlusion boundary detection via deep exploration of context

Fu, H., Wang, C., Tao, D., Black, M. J.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Occlusion boundaries contain rich perceptual information about the underlying scene structure. They also provide important cues in many visual perception tasks such as scene understanding, object recognition, and segmentation. In this paper, we improve occlusion boundary detection via enhanced exploration of contextual information (e.g., local structural boundary patterns, observations from surrounding regions, and temporal context), and in doing so develop a novel approach based on convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and conditional random fields (CRFs). Experimental results demonstrate that our detector significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art (e.g., improving the F-measure from 0.62 to 0.71 on the commonly used CMU benchmark). Last but not least, we empirically assess the roles of several important components of the proposed detector, so as to validate the rationale behind this approach.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Semantic Instance Annotation of Street Scenes by 3D to 2D Label Transfer

Xie, J., Kiefel, M., Sun, M., Geiger, A.

In IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Semantic annotations are vital for training models for object recognition, semantic segmentation or scene understanding. Unfortunately, pixelwise annotation of images at very large scale is labor-intensive and only little labeled data is available, particularly at instance level and for street scenes. In this paper, we propose to tackle this problem by lifting the semantic instance labeling task from 2D into 3D. Given reconstructions from stereo or laser data, we annotate static 3D scene elements with rough bounding primitives and develop a probabilistic model which transfers this information into the image domain. We leverage our method to obtain 2D labels for a novel suburban video dataset which we have collected, resulting in 400k semantic and instance image annotations. A comparison of our method to state-of-the-art label transfer baselines reveals that 3D information enables more efficient annotation while at the same time resulting in improved accuracy and time-coherent labels.

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pdf suppmat Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Project Page [BibTex]


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Design and evaluation of a novel mechanical device to improve hemiparetic gait: a case report

Fjeld, K., Hu, S., Kuchenbecker, K. J., Vasudevan, E. V.

In Proceedings of the Biomechanics and Neural Control of Movement Conference (BANCOM), June 2016, Extended abstract. Poster presentation given by Fjeld (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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System and method to magnetically actuate a capsule endoscopic robot for diagnosis and treatment

Sitti, M., Yim, S.

May 2016, US Patent 9,445,711 (patent)

Abstract
Present invention describes a swallowable device with a soft, compliant exterior, whose shape can be changed through the use of magnetic fields, and which can be locomoted in a rolling motion through magnetic control from the exterior of the patient. The present invention could be used for a variety of medical applications inside the GI tract including but not limited to drug delivery, biopsy, heat cauterization, pH sensing, biochemical sensing, micro-surgery, and active imaging.

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link (url) [BibTex]


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Gallium Adhesion: Phase Change of Gallium Enables Highly Reversible and Switchable Adhesion (Adv. Mater. 25/2016)

Ye, Z., Lum, G. Z., Song, S., Rich, S., Sitti, M.

Advanced Materials, 28(25):5087-5087, May 2016 (article)

Abstract
Gallium exhibits highly reversible and switchable adhesion when it undergoes a solid–liquid phase transition. The robustness of gallium is notable as it exhibits strong performance on a wide range of smooth and rough surfaces, under both dry and wet conditions. Gallium may therefore find numerous applications in transfer printing, robotics, electronic packaging, and biomedicine.

pi

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Patterned and Specific Attachment of Bacteria on Biohybrid Bacteria-Driven Microswimmers

Singh, A. V., Sitti, M.

Advanced healthcare materials, 5(18):2325-2331, May 2016 (article)

Abstract
A surface patterning technique and a specific and strong biotin–streptavidin bonding of bacteria on patterned surfaces are proposed to fabricate Janus particles that are propelled by the attached bacteria. Bacteria-driven Janus microswimmers with diameters larger than 3 μm show enhanced mean propulsion speed. Such microswimmers could be used for future applications such as targeted drug delivery and environmental remediation.

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DOI [BibTex]


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Shape-programmable magnetic soft matter

Lum, G. Z., Ye, Z., Dong, X., Marvi, H., Erin, O., Hu, W., Sitti, M.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pages: 201608193, National Acad Sciences, May 2016 (article)

Abstract
Shape-programmable matter is a class of active materials whose geometry can be controlled to potentially achieve mechanical functionalities beyond those of traditional machines. Among these materials, magnetically actuated matter is particularly promising for achieving complex time-varying shapes at small scale (overall dimensions smaller than 1 cm). However, previous work can only program these materials for limited applications, as they rely solely on human intuition to approximate the required magnetization profile and actuating magnetic fields for their materials. Here, we propose a universal programming methodology that can automatically generate the required magnetization profile and actuating fields for soft matter to achieve new time-varying shapes. The universality of the proposed method can therefore inspire a vast number of miniature soft devices that are critical in robotics, smart engineering surfaces and materials, and biomedical devices. Our proposed method includes theoretical formulations, computational strategies, and fabrication procedures for programming magnetic soft matter. The presented theory and computational method are universal for programming 2D or 3D time-varying shapes, whereas the fabrication technique is generic only for creating planar beams. Based on the proposed programming method, we created a jellyfish-like robot, a spermatozoid-like undulating swimmer, and an artificial cilium that could mimic the complex beating patterns of its biological counterpart.

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DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Robot Arm Pose Estimation by Pixel-wise Regression of Joint Angles

Widmaier, F., Kappler, D., Schaal, S., Bohg, J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2016, IEEE, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
To achieve accurate vision-based control with a robotic arm, a good hand-eye coordination is required. However, knowing the current configuration of the arm can be very difficult due to noisy readings from joint encoders or an inaccurate hand-eye calibration. We propose an approach for robot arm pose estimation that uses depth images of the arm as input to directly estimate angular joint positions. This is a frame-by-frame method which does not rely on good initialisation of the solution from the previous frames or knowledge from the joint encoders. For estimation, we employ a random regression forest which is trained on synthetically generated data. We compare different training objectives of the forest and also analyse the influence of prior segmentation of the arms on accuracy. We show that this approach improves previous work both in terms of computational complexity and accuracy. Despite being trained on synthetic data only, we demonstrate that the estimation also works on real depth images.

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Optimizing for what matters: the Top Grasp Hypothesis

Kappler, D., Schaal, S., Bohg, J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2016, IEEE, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we consider the problem of robotic grasping of objects when only partial and noisy sensor data of the environment is available. We are specifically interested in the problem of reliably selecting the best hypothesis from a whole set. This is commonly the case when trying to grasp an object for which we can only observe a partial point cloud from one viewpoint through noisy sensors. There will be many possible ways to successfully grasp this object, and even more which will fail. We propose a supervised learning method that is trained with a ranking loss. This explicitly encourages that the top-ranked training grasp in a hypothesis set is also positively labeled. We show how we adapt the standard ranking loss to work with data that has binary labels and explain the benefits of this formulation. Additionally, we show how we can efficiently optimize this loss with stochastic gradient descent. In quantitative experiments, we show that we can outperform previous models by a large margin.

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Exemplar-based Prediction of Object Properties from Local Shape Similarity

Bohg, J., Kappler, D., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2016, IEEE, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We propose a novel method that enables a robot to identify a graspable object part of an unknown object given only noisy and partial information that is obtained from an RGB-D camera. Our method combines the benefits of local with the advantages of global methods. It learns a classifier that takes a local shape representation as input and outputs the probability that a grasp applied at this location will be successful. Given a query data point that is classified in this way, we can retrieve all the locally similar training data points and use them to predict latent global object shape. This information may help to further prune positively labeled grasp hypotheses based on, e.g. relation to the predicted average global shape or suitability for a specific task. This prediction can also guide scene exploration to prune object shape hypotheses. To learn the function that maps local shape to grasp stability we use a Random Forest Classifier. We show that our method reaches the same classification performance as the current state-of-the-art on this dataset which uses a Convolutional Neural Network. Additionally, we exploit the natural ability of the Random Forest to cluster similar data. For a positively predicted query data point, we retrieve all the locally similar training data points that are associated with the same leaf nodes of the Random Forest. The main insight from this work is that local object shape that affords a grasp is also a good predictor of global object shape. We empirically support this claim with quantitative experiments. Additionally, we demonstrate the predictive capability of the method on some real data examples.

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Automatic LQR Tuning Based on Gaussian Process Global Optimization

Marco, A., Hennig, P., Bohg, J., Schaal, S., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper proposes an automatic controller tuning framework based on linear optimal control combined with Bayesian optimization. With this framework, an initial set of controller gains is automatically improved according to a pre-defined performance objective evaluated from experimental data. The underlying Bayesian optimization algorithm is Entropy Search, which represents the latent objective as a Gaussian process and constructs an explicit belief over the location of the objective minimum. This is used to maximize the information gain from each experimental evaluation. Thus, this framework shall yield improved controllers with fewer evaluations compared to alternative approaches. A seven-degree- of-freedom robot arm balancing an inverted pole is used as the experimental demonstrator. Results of a two- and four- dimensional tuning problems highlight the method’s potential for automatic controller tuning on robotic platforms.

am ics pn

Video PDF DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

Video PDF DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Depth-based Object Tracking Using a Robust Gaussian Filter

Issac, J., Wüthrich, M., Garcia Cifuentes, C., Bohg, J., Trimpe, S., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2016, IEEE, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We consider the problem of model-based 3D- tracking of objects given dense depth images as input. Two difficulties preclude the application of a standard Gaussian filter to this problem. First of all, depth sensors are characterized by fat-tailed measurement noise. To address this issue, we show how a recently published robustification method for Gaussian filters can be applied to the problem at hand. Thereby, we avoid using heuristic outlier detection methods that simply reject measurements if they do not match the model. Secondly, the computational cost of the standard Gaussian filter is prohibitive due to the high-dimensional measurement, i.e. the depth image. To address this problem, we propose an approximation to reduce the computational complexity of the filter. In quantitative experiments on real data we show how our method clearly outperforms the standard Gaussian filter. Furthermore, we compare its performance to a particle-filter-based tracking method, and observe comparable computational efficiency and improved accuracy and smoothness of the estimates.

am ics

Video Bayesian Object Tracking Library Bayesian Filtering Framework Object Tracking Dataset link (url) DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

Video Bayesian Object Tracking Library Bayesian Filtering Framework Object Tracking Dataset link (url) DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Sperm-shaped magnetic microrobots: Fabrication using electrospinning, modeling, and characterization

Khalil, I. S., Tabak, A. F., Hosney, A., Mohamed, A., Klingner, A., Ghoneima, M., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2016 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 1939-1944, May 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We use electrospinning to fabricate sperm-shaped magnetic microrobots with a range of diameters from 50 μm to 500 μm. The variables of the electrospinning operation (voltage, concentration of the solution, dynamic viscosity, and distance between the syringe needle and collector) to achieve beading effect are determined. This beading effect allows us to fabricate microrobots with similar morphology to that of sperm cells. The bead and the ultra-fine fiber resemble the morphology of the head and tail of the sperm cell, respectively. We incorporate iron oxide nanoparticles to the head of the sperm-shaped microrobot to provide a magnetic dipole moment. This dipole enables directional control under the influence of external magnetic fields. We also apply weak (less than 2 mT) oscillating magnetic fields to exert a magnetic torque on the magnetic head, and generate planar flagellar waves and flagellated swim. The average speed of the sperm-shaped microrobot is calculated to be 0.5 body lengths per second and 1 body lengths per second at frequencies of 5 Hz and 10 Hz, respectively. We also develop a model of the microrobot using elastohydrodynamics approach and Timoshenko-Rayleigh beam theory, and find good agreement with the experimental results.

pi

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Thumb xl screen shot 2016 06 27 at 09.38.59
Implications of Action-Oriented Paradigm Shifts in Cognitive Science

Dominey, P. F., Prescott, T. J., Bohg, J., Engel, A. K., Gallagher, S., Heed, T., Hoffmann, M., Knoblich, G., Prinz, W., Schwartz, A.

In The Pragmatic Turn - Toward Action-Oriented Views in Cognitive Science, 18, pages: 333-356, 20, Strüngmann Forum Reports, vol. 18, J. Lupp, series editor, (Editors: Andreas K. Engel and Karl J. Friston and Danica Kragic), The MIT Press, 18th Ernst Strüngmann Forum, May 2016 (incollection) In press

Abstract
An action-oriented perspective changes the role of an individual from a passive observer to an actively engaged agent interacting in a closed loop with the world as well as with others. Cognition exists to serve action within a landscape that contains both. This chapter surveys this landscape and addresses the status of the pragmatic turn. Its potential influence on science and the study of cognition are considered (including perception, social cognition, social interaction, sensorimotor entrainment, and language acquisition) and its impact on how neuroscience is studied is also investigated (with the notion that brains do not passively build models, but instead support the guidance of action). A review of its implications in robotics and engineering includes a discussion of the application of enactive control principles to couple action and perception in robotics as well as the conceptualization of system design in a more holistic, less modular manner. Practical applications that can impact the human condition are reviewed (e.g. educational applications, treatment possibilities for developmental and psychopathological disorders, the development of neural prostheses). All of this foreshadows the potential societal implications of the pragmatic turn. The chapter concludes that an action-oriented approach emphasizes a continuum of interaction between technical aspects of cognitive systems and robotics, biology, psychology, the social sciences, and the humanities, where the individual is part of a grounded cultural system.

am

The Pragmatic Turn - Toward Action-Oriented Views in Cognitive Science 18th Ernst Strüngmann Forum Bibliography Chapter link (url) [BibTex]

The Pragmatic Turn - Toward Action-Oriented Views in Cognitive Science 18th Ernst Strüngmann Forum Bibliography Chapter link (url) [BibTex]


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Communication Rate Analysis for Event-based State Estimation

(Best student paper finalist)

Ebner, S., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the 13th International Workshop on Discrete Event Systems, May 2016 (inproceedings)

am ics

PDF DOI [BibTex]

PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Auxetic Metamaterial Simplifies Soft Robot Design

Mark, A. G., Palagi, S., Qiu, T., Fischer, P.

In 2016 IEEE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION (ICRA), pages: 4951-4956, May 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Soft materials are being adopted in robotics in order to facilitate biomedical applications and in order to achieve simpler and more capable robots. One route to simplification is to design the robot's body using `smart materials' that carry the burden of control and actuation. Metamaterials enable just such rational design of the material properties. Here we present a soft robot that exploits mechanical metamaterials for the intrinsic synchronization of two passive clutches which contact its travel surface. Doing so allows it to move through an enclosed passage with an inchworm motion propelled by a single actuator. Our soft robot consists of two 3D-printed metamaterials that implement auxetic and normal elastic properties. The design, fabrication and characterization of the metamaterials are described. In addition, a working soft robot is presented. Since the synchronization mechanism is a feature of the robot's material body, we believe that the proposed design will enable compliant and robust implementations that scale well with miniaturization.

pf

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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A Lightweight Robotic Arm with Pneumatic Muscles for Robot Learning

Büchler, D., Ott, H., Peters, J.

Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2016, pages: 4086-4092, IEEE, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2016 (conference)

am ei

ICRA16final DOI [BibTex]

ICRA16final DOI [BibTex]


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Drifting Gaussian Processes with Varying Neighborhood Sizes for Online Model Learning

Meier, F., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2016, IEEE, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2016 (inproceedings)

am

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Learning Action-Perception Cycles in Robotics: A Question of Representations and Embodiment

Bohg, J., Kragic, D.

In The Pragmatic Turn - Toward Action-Oriented Views in Cognitive Science, 18, pages: 309-320, 18, Strüngmann Forum Reports, vol. 18, J. Lupp, series editor, (Editors: Andreas K. Engel and Karl J. Friston and Danica Kragic), The MIT Press, 18th Ernst Strüngmann Forum, May 2016 (incollection) In press

Abstract
Since the 1950s, robotics research has sought to build a general-purpose agent capable of autonomous, open-ended interaction with realistic, unconstrained environments. Cognition is perceived to be at the core of this process, yet understanding has been challenged because cognition is referred to differently within and across research areas, and is not clearly defined. The classic robotics approach is decomposition into functional modules which perform planning, reasoning, and problem-solving or provide input to these mechanisms. Although advancements have been made and numerous success stories reported in specific niches, this systems-engineering approach has not succeeded in building such a cognitive agent. The emergence of an action-oriented paradigm offers a new approach: action and perception are no longer separable into functional modules but must be considered in a complete loop. This chapter reviews work on different mechanisms for action- perception learning and discusses the role of embodiment in the design of the underlying representations and learning. It discusses the evaluation of agents and suggests the development of a new embodied Turing Test. Appropriate scenarios need to be devised in addition to current competitions, so that abilities can be tested over long time periods.

am

18th Ernst Strüngmann Forum The Pragmatic Turn- Toward Action-Oriented Views in Cognitive Science Bibliography Chapter link (url) [BibTex]

18th Ernst Strüngmann Forum The Pragmatic Turn- Toward Action-Oriented Views in Cognitive Science Bibliography Chapter link (url) [BibTex]


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Deep Learning for Tactile Understanding From Visual and Haptic Data

Gao, Y., Hendricks, L. A., Kuchenbecker, K. J., Darrell, T.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 536-543, May 2016, Oral presentation given by Gao (inproceedings)

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Robust Tactile Perception of Artificial Tumors Using Pairwise Comparisons of Sensor Array Readings

Hui, J. C. T., Block, A. E., Taylor, C. J., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

In Proc. IEEE Haptics Symposium, pages: 305-312, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 2016, Oral presentation given by Hui (inproceedings)

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Distinct adaptation to abrupt and gradual torque perturbations with a multi-joint exoskeleton robot

Oh, Y., Sutanto, G., Mistry, M., Schweighofer, N., Schaal, S.

Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2016), Montego Bay, Jamaica, April 2016 (poster)

am

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Data-Driven Comparison of Four Cutaneous Displays for Pinching Palpation in Robotic Surgery

Brown, J. D., Ibrahim, M., Chase, E. D. Z., Pacchierotti, C., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

In Proc. IEEE Haptics Symposium, pages: 147-154, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, April 2016, Oral presentation given by Brown (inproceedings)

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


no image
One Sensor, Three Displays: A Comparison of Tactile Rendering from a BioTac Sensor

Brown, J. D., Ibrahim, M., Chase, E. D. Z., Pacchierotti, C., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Hands-on demonstration presented at IEEE Haptics Symposium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, April 2016 (misc)

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


no image
Design and Implementation of a Visuo-Haptic Data Acquisition System for Robotic Learning of Surface Properties

Burka, A., Hu, S., Helgeson, S., Krishnan, S., Gao, Y., Hendricks, L. A., Darrell, T., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

In Proc. IEEE Haptics Symposium, pages: 350-352, April 2016, Work-in-progress paper. Poster presentation given by Burka (inproceedings)

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Objective assessment of robotic surgical skill using instrument contact vibrations

D. Gomez, E., Aggarwal, R., McMahan, W., Bark, K., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Surgical Endoscopy, 30(4):1419-1431, April 2016 (article)

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Thumb xl inflateble robots
Inflated soft actuators with reversible stable deformations

Hines, L., Petersen, K., Sitti, M.

Advanced Materials, 28(19):3690-3696, March 2016 (article)

Abstract
Most soft robotic systems are currently dependent on bulky compressors or pumps. A soft actuation method is presented combining hyperelastic membranes and dielectric elastomer actuators to switch between stable deformations of sealed chambers. This method is capable of large repeatable deformations, and has a number of stable states proportional to the number of actuatable membranes in the chamber.

pi

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Chemotaxis of bio-hybrid multiple bacteria-driven microswimmers

Zhuang, J., Sitti, M.

Scientific reports, 6, Nature Publishing Group, March 2016 (article)

Abstract
In this study, in a bio-hybrid microswimmer system driven by multiple Serratia marcescens bacteria, we quantify the chemotactic drift of a large number of microswimmers towards L-serine and elucidate the associated collective chemotaxis behavior by statistical analysis of over a thousand swimming trajectories of the microswimmers. The results show that the microswimmers have a strong heading preference for moving up the L-serine gradient, while their speed does not change considerably when moving up and down the gradient; therefore, the heading bias constitutes the major factor that produces the chemotactic drift. The heading direction of a microswimmer is found to be significantly more persistent when it moves up the L-serine gradient than when it travels down the gradient; this effect causes the apparent heading preference of the microswimmers and is the crucial reason that enables the seemingly cooperative chemotaxis of multiple bacteria on a microswimmer. In addition, we find that their chemotactic drift velocity increases superquadratically with their mean swimming speed, suggesting that chemotaxis of bio-hybrid microsystems can be enhanced by designing and building faster microswimmers. Such bio-hybrid microswimmers with chemotactic steering capability may find future applications in targeted drug delivery, bioengineering, and lab-on-a-chip devices.

pi

DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Thumb xl publications toc
Targeted drug delivery and imaging using mobile milli/microrobots: A promising future towards theranostic pharmaceutical design

Vikram Singh, A., Sitti, M.

Current pharmaceutical design, 22(11):1418-1428, Bentham Science Publishers, March 2016 (article)

Abstract
Miniature untethered medical robots have been receiving growing attention due to technological advances in microactuation, microsensors, and microfabrication and have significant potential to reduce the invasiveness and improve the accessibility of medical devices into unprecedented small spaces inside the human body. In this review, we discuss therapeutic and diagnostic applications of untethered medical microrobots. Wirelessly controlled milli/microrobots with integrated sensors are revolutionizing micromanipulation based medical interventions and are enabling doctors to perform minimally invasive procedures not possible before. 3D fabrication technologies enabling milli/microrobot fabrication at the single cell scale are empowering high-resolution visual imaging and in vivo manipulation capabilities. Swallowable millirobots and injectabale ocular microrobots allow the gastric ulcer imaging, and performance of vitreoretinal microsurgery at previously inaccessible ocular sites. Many invasive excision and incision based diagnostic biopsy, prostrate, and nephrolgical procedures can be performed minimally or almost noninvasively due to recent advancements in microrobotic technology. Advances in biohybrid microrobot systems are pushing microrobotic systems even smaller, using biological cells as on-board microactuators and microsensors using the chemical energy. Such microrobotic systems could be used for local targeted delivery of imaging contrast agents, drugs, genes, and mRNA, minimally invasive surgery, and cell micromanipulation in the near future.

pi

link (url) [BibTex]


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Dispersion and shape engineered plasmonic nanosensors

Hyeon-Ho, J., Mark, A. G., Alarcon-Correa, M., Kim, I., Oswald, P., Lee, T., Fischer, P.

NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 7, March 2016 (article)

Abstract
Biosensors based on the localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) of individual metallic nanoparticles promise to deliver modular, low-cost sensing with high-detection thresholds. However, they continue to suffer from relatively low sensitivity and figures of merit (FOMs). Herein we introduce the idea of sensitivity enhancement of LSPR sensors through engineering of the material dispersion function. Employing dispersion and shape engineering of chiral nanoparticles leads to remarkable refractive index sensitivities (1,091 nmRIU(-1) at lambda = 921 nm) and FOMs (>2,800 RIU-1). A key feature is that the polarization-dependent extinction of the nanoparticles is now characterized by rich spectral features, including bipolar peaks and nulls, suitable for tracking refractive index changes. This sensing modality offers strong optical contrast even in the presence of highly absorbing media, an important consideration for use in complex biological media with limited transmission. The technique is sensitive to surface-specific binding events which we demonstrate through biotin-avidin surface coupling.

pf

DOI [BibTex]