LARICS at the 1st Conference on Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Bjelovar

Prof. Zdenko Kovacic and Frano Petric participated as presenters at the Conference on Education, Innovation and Enterpreneurship organized by the Technical College in Bjelovar, Croatia. Prof. Kovacic held a lecture entitled “Autism and autism diagnostics with a robot evaluator”. Frano conducted a demonstration workshop “A robot as a friend”.

Inaugural lecture by Matko Orsag

Matko Orsag, LARICS postdoctoral researcher, gave an Inaugural lecture at UNIZG-FER titled “Description of Object Images using the Moments Method” as a part of the undergraduate course Robotics practicum. The lecture was held successfully in front of an assessment committee, professors, researchers and undergraduate students.

Ivica Draganjac defended the topic of his doctoral dissertation

In front of the assessment committee (Prof. Stjepan Bogdan, Prof. Zdenko Kovacic, and Prof. Mladen Crnekovic), LARICS PhD student Ivica Draganjac mentored by Prof. Kovacic successfully presented and defended the topic of his doctoral dissertation entitled „Decentralized Control of Free Ranging Automated Guided Vehicles in Automated Warehouses“. The aim of his doctoral dissertation is to extend the current state of the art practice in the Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) Systems area and eliminate limitations present in current systems due to the use of centralized control architectures and predefined paths of AGVs. Contribution is intended to be achieved by development and implementation of a stable and efficacious decentralized control algorithm which ensures the following characteristics: autonomy of AGVs in respect of path planning and motion coordination; scalability of system for an increasing number of AGVs; system flexibility in terms of dynamic allocation of transport tasks and changes in the working environment; and resistance to failures of AGVs.

LARICS researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Prof. Zdenko Kovacic, Prof. Ivana Palunko and Dr. Domagoj Tolic visited the research group of Prof. Ji-Feng Zhang, director of the Institute of Systems Science, Academy of Mathematics and Systems Science at the Chinese Academy of Science. The visit is the part of the on-going bilateral project „Coordination Control of Multi-agent Systems“ funded by Chinese and Croatian governments. The visit included presentations of currently pursued projects, both at the Croatian and Chinese side. Well known hospitability of our hosts allowed us to enjoy our stay to full extent – we enjoyed in good food, beautiful weather with no smog at all, and a lot of sight seeing including the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. We would like to thank our Chinese friends for all kindness and care they showed for us. We are waiting for them to come soon in our lab.

IEEE Croatia Section, Robotics and Automation Chapter talks

IEDanLofaroEE Croatia Section, Robotics and Automation Chapter, along with the Centre of Research Excellence for Advanced Cooperative Systems (ACROSS), organized a half-day workshop consisting of three talks. In the first talk entitled Towards cooperative human-robot societies, Frano Petric gave and overview of research performed with NAO robots in LARICS and presented the goals of the ADORE project. Following Frano’s talk, Prof. Daniel Lofaro from LofaroLabs at the George Mason University, USA, gave a talk entitled Team DRC-Hubo: International Collaboration using a Three Phase Design Cycle through which he showed the evolution of the Hubo Humanoid Robot from a research platform to a DARPA Robot Challenge (DRC) ready system. The workshop was closed by the talk given by Maja Varga from EPFL, CH. The talk was entitled Formation algorithm in swarms of fixed wing flying robots and presented a distributed and decentralised control strategy that allows the fixed wing robots to fly in formation, relying only on local information between robots.

Prof. Han Fu Chen and Prof. Yanlong Zhao visited LARICS

As a part of bilaChinaVisitteral research project “Coordination Control of Multi-Agent Systems”, jointly funded by Croatian and Chinese governments, Prof. Han Fu Chen and Prof. Yanlong Zhao visited LARICS and our Faculty. During their stay in Zagreb, our Chinese guests gave two lectures, had a meeting with Dean, attended Matko’s PhD thesis defense and participated in presentations on current research activities in ACROSS center.

Damir Arbula defended the topic of his doctoral dissertation

arbulaIn front of the five-member committee (Prof. Vedran Bilas, Prof. Zdenko Kovacic, Prof. Gordan Sisul, Prof. Stjepan Bogdan, and Prof. Drago Zagar), LARICS PhD student Damir Arbula, M.Sc. (Technical Faculty University of Rijeka) successfully presented and defended the topic of his doctoral dissertation entitled „Distributed algorithm for node localization in anchor free wireless sensor network”. The Committee agreed upon expected scientific contributions and the same approval is expected to come from the Faculty of EE&C Council and the Technical Committee of the University of Zagreb.

Dr. Kevin Bollino visited LARICS and held the lecture

Dr. KeviaerospaceRDn Bollino is the officer of the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development (EOARD) who has come in Zagreb for the 1st year review of the project “Human-in-the-loop Control of Multi-agent Aerial Systems Under Intermittent Communication” financed by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFRL). Dr. Bollino expressed deep interest in all research activities carried out at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. During his visit he gave a presentation of the research areas covered by his Space Technology and Control Sciences division, and listened to research presentations of the laboratories of the Department of Control and Computer Engineering.

Lectures of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Torsten Jeinsch and Martin Kurowski, University of Rostock

Irostock_logon the first week of November our German colleagues from the University of Rostock, Prof. Wolfgang Drevelow, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Torsten Jeinsch, Dipl. Ing. Martin Kurowski, and Erik Rentzow, visited our Faculty and initiated discussions about ways of research collaboration in the forthcoming years. The University of Rostock was founded in 1419 and is one of the oldest universities in Germany and the oldest in the region of the Baltic Sea. The professorship of control engineering is established at the Institute of Automation, which is part of the Faculty of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. The professorship consists of three groups and research is done in the areas of automotive, medical and maritime control. The presentation of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Torsten Jeinsch and Dipl. Ing. Martin Kurowski gave an overview about the Institute of Automation and actual challenges in fault diagnosis and maritime automation and control.

Lecture of Prof. Thomas Schmickl, University of Graz

thomasDr. Thomas Schmickl, professor at the Karl-Franzens University Graz, Artificial Life Lab, Department of Zoology gave an extremely interesting lecture entitled „The new Cyborgs: Robots and Animals Forming a Mixed Society?“. He discussed about machines that are used to trick humans or animals to study their behaviors. He showed how modern computerized devices can take over the role of the scientist and act as their own experimenters by sneaking into animal societies. This way, bio‐mimicking machines take over an active role in natural societies, forming something novel: A bio-hybrid society.

Lecture of Dr. Kristian Hengster Movric. University of Texas, Arlington

kristijan movric hengsterDr. Kristijan Hengster Movric, researcher at the University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, USA, gave a talk entitled “Cooperative Control of Multi-agent Systems – Stability, Optimality and Robustness”. This talk has brought together stability and optimality theory to design distributed cooperative control protocols that guarantee consensus in multi-agent systems and are globally optimal with respect to a positive semi-definite quadratic performance criterion. Also, this talk was concerned with the effects of disturbances on multi-agent systems. Building on the classical results on the existence of Lyapunov functions for asymptotically stable systems and their use in assessing the effect the disturbances exert on those systems, Dr. Hengster Movric has shown that it is possible to extend such reasoning to partially stable systems, in particular those systems reaching consensus or synchronization.

Prof. Rafael Fierro held the lecture “Synchronization Strategies for Robotic Networks”

rafael fierroDr. Rafael Fierro, professor at the University of New Mexico, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Albuquerque, USA, held a very interesting lecture on synchronization strategies for robotic networks. As Prof. Fierro said, robotic networks are particularly well suited to execute tasks that cover wide geographic ranges, require significant parallelization, and/or depend on capabilities that are varied in both quantity and difficulty. Example applications include littoral exploration and surveillance, rainforest health monitoring, autonomous transportation systems, warehouse automation, and hazardous waste clean-up. This talk focused on synchronization strategies to control robotic networks. First some of the projects at the MARHES Lab were outlined including work on agile transportation of suspended loads using aerial robots and coordination of heterogeneous robotic networks. Then a multi-vehicle test bed and its applications were presented. Also, recent work on two problems was described: (1) detecting changes in the topology of a robotic network through synchronization of nonlinear oscillators, and (2) coordinating a team of nonholonomic sensors using a binary consensus protocol.

Maja Varga held the lecture “Increasing autonomy of the fixed wing robots”

Mmvargaaja Varga, LARICS young scientist, currently a Ph.D. student at the EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland held a very interesting lecture about the fixed wing robots being used in numerous outdoor applications, such as providing area coverage, mapping applications, providing communication relay, environmental monitoring. In many of those applications, exact path of the robot is preprogrammed and mission is usually planned in advance. Each flying robot needs dedicated human operator to provide safe flight. The question arises, what is  necessary to add to the functionality of fixed wing robots to make them more autonomous, reactive and less dependent on the human intervention. In her talk, she presented control methodologies to overcome unicycle dynamics of the fixed wing flying robots to make the platforms more reactive and control architecture to enable switching between different flying robot behaviors.

Prof. Nikos Tsourveloudis held the lecture” Bio-inspired Robotic Entities: Coping with Bounded Rationality”

nikosWithin the series of colloquia organized by the FP7 project ACROSS , an international research advisor of the ACROSS project, Prof. Nikos Tsourveloudis, who is a professor of manufacturing technology at the Technical University of Crete (TUC), Chania, Greece, where he leads the Intelligent Systems and Robotics Laboratory ( and the Machine Tools Laboratory, held a very interesting lecture about the ability of living organisms to successfully cope and provide good solutions to almost all robotic related problems. The research that was presented in his talk was an outgrowth of previous research on the navigation and control of autonomous robots. The objective was to present, define and discuss the required level of cognitive capabilities needed for robotic navigation and coordination purposes. Emphasis was given on the fact that humans and animals make inferences about unknown features of their world under constraints of limited time, limited knowledge, and limited computational capacities. And despite their cognitive limitations (bounded rationality) they tend to build and use domain specific heuristics that allow for fast “problem solving” (and task specific successful behaviors). The afterwards discussion raised questions such as how can robotics be benefited from these facts?

Dr. Ivana Palunko held the lecture “Load Transportation Using Quadrotors”

Witivanapalunkohin the series of colloquia organized by the FP7 project ACROSS , Dr. Ivana Palunko, the ex-LARICS student and former Ph.D. student at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA, currently being employed at the Faculty of EE&C in Zagreb as the ACROSS postdoctoral researcher, held a very interesting lecture about the load transportation using quadrotors. In her talk, she investigated problems that occur during load transportation using small scale quadrotors. First, the problem of quadrotor stabilization and trajectory tracking with changes of the centre of gravity of the system was addressed. Then she addressed the problem of a swing-free transport of suspended load using quadrotors. Flying with a load can be a very challenging and sometimes hazardous task as the load significantly alters the flight characteristics of the quadrotor.  Besides the swing-free manoeuvres with suspended load, load trajectory tracking is another problem she defined and presented.
At the end, she proposed an algorithm for navigation in cluttered environments considering a quadrotor with suspended load.

Dr. Domagoj Tolic held the lecture “Stability of Nonlinear Control Systems Under Intermittent Information with Applications to Multi-Agent Robotics”

Within the series of colloquia organized by the FP7 project ACROSS , Dr. Domagoj Tolic, the ex-LARICS student and former Ph.D. student at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA, currently being employed at the Faculty of EE&C in Zagreb as the ACROSS postdoctoral researcher, held a very interesting lecture about the investigation of stability of nodomagojtolicnlinear control systems under intermittent information. This means that the traditional periodic paradigm, where up-to-date information are transmitted and control laws are executed in a periodic fashion, is replaced with the event-triggered paradigm. In other words, based on the currently available (but outdated) measurements of the outputs and external inputs of a plant, a simple expression for when to obtain new up-to-date measurements and execute the control law is provided.

The Lecture of Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro (Osaka, Japan)

On Thursday, November 17th, our Faculty had an eminent guest, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro from the Osaka University, Department of Systems Innovation, Japan, who is one of the most well-known roboticists in the world. His astonishing achievements in development of hyper-realistic android robots have been recognized even by Hollywood film makers (see film Surrogates). At the lecture, Prof. Ishiguro presented most of the results for which he is well-known, but also he presented the newest results related to the investigation of optimal humanoid robot form (appearance) which would most of the human population accept. The perfection of androids developed in prof. Ishiguro’s lab allow them to act in the android theater, and he has announced to the audience that in April 2012 he is coming with such theater in Zagreb.geminoid