One of the key components in the interaction of NAO robots and children is a vocal communication. In the protocol for diagnostics of autism adapted for NAO robots, the tasks like Call by name require vocal communication in Croatian language. NAO robots speak French and English very fine, but they do not speak Croatian. Here comes the reason why Prof. Kovacic, Dr. Damjan Miklic and Frano Petric gladly accepted an invitation to visit the laboratories of the Technical Faculty in Novi Sad and the company Alfanum, a regional leader in speech communication technologies. Thanks to the agreement to start the collaboration between two parties, our NAO robots now speak Croatian very well and we are going to teach them to understand some Croatian vocabulary that is most often used by small children. We would like to thank Prof. Vlado Delic and Darko Pekar from Alfanum for their full openness and warm welcome.
Prof. Tomotaka Takahashi from the University of Tokyo made a short tour in Croatia visiting on his way the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing too. His lecture was attended by more than 500 people interested to hear one of the global celebrities in the world of robotics. Prof. Takahashi showed deep interest in the robotics projects conducted in three robotics laboratories at FER: LARICS, LABUST and LAMOR, emphasizing during his lecture that he was very pleased with what he was able to see. Frano Petric prepared one of NAO robots for the Tic-Tac-Toe match with Prof. Takahashi, which amused all people being present, including his excellency, ambassador Mr.Keiji Ide and secretary Mr. Ryohei Nakajima.
We were proud to host nearly three hundred elementary school students in our lab during the last few weeks. These visits were organized as experimental intervention within the JOBSTEM project, aimed towards determining how are STEM careers aspirations formed and how are these aspirations influenced by different factors such as gender, family characteristics and early exposure to the STEM field. During their visit to our laboratory, Barbara, Antun, Damjan and Frano introduced the students to basic concepts in robotics through our aerial, ground and humanoid robots.
As a part of bilateral 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.
LARICS team, represented by prof. Stjepan Bogdan, dr. Ivana Palunko, dr. Domagoj Tolić and Tomislav Haus, visited Academy of Mathematics and Systems Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, as a part of the project “Coordination Control of Multi-Agent Systems” financed by Croatian and Chinese government. Prof. Bogdan presented LARICS recent research activities and Ivana gave lecture on “Formability of Multi-agent Systems Using Adaptive Parameter-Dependent Potential Functions”. Domagoj presented his research results in the field of “Realistic Information in Control Systems — Intermittent, Delayed and Distorted” and Tomislav gave lecture on “Trust Based Self-Organizing Network Control”. Team used their spare time to visit famous Beijing hutongs, The Forbidden City and The Great Wall of China.
We would like to thank our Chinese hosts prof. Ji-Feng Zhang, prof. Han-Fu Chen, prof. Yanlong Zhao and their young researchers for friendly and generous reception. We are looking forward to seeing them soon in Zagreb.
Mr. Santiago Rendon Vera, a visiting researcher from the University of Seville, Spain, held a lecture organized by the IEEE Croatia Section Robotics and Automation Chapter entitled: “Path planning with Pseudospectral Collocation Methods”. Santiago has been invited for the period of three months to visit LARICS andparticipate in joint research on multi-robot trajectory optimization. The research is conducted within the project FP7-IP Estimation and Control for Safe Wireless High Mobility Cooperative Industrial Systems (EC-SAFEMOBIL, 285939). During his stay in the Lab it is planned to develop a multi-robot trajectory planning strategy based on the use of a pseudospectral collocation method and test it in simulation and in laboratory conditions using the group of Pioneer P3-DX mobile robots.
Ivana Palunko and Domagoj Tolic spent 6 months at the Institute for Information-oriented Control (ITR) for joint research with prof. Sandra Hirche. This visit was a part of the ACROSS project aimed at establishing collaborations between UNIZG-FER and EU research institutions. Except for being very successful research-wise, this visit gave them an opportunity to explore Bavarian castles and enjoy famous Bavarian beer.
During three cold and dry days, February 03-05, the representatives of all partners of the EC-SAFEMOBIL Consortium gathered at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing to discuss issues relevant for success of this four-year FP7 project. Besides a series of presentations and discussions, our visitors made a short tour around our robotics research-oriented laboratories (ACROSS, LARICS, AMOR, LAPOST). Evenings were reserved for night sightseeing of Zagreb old town and dining some typical Croatian dishes.
More than forty years long cooperation between the University of Zagreb and University of Rostock, Germany continued by visit of Prof. Zdenko Kovacic and Prof. Zoran Vukic to the Institute of Automation, Control Application Center Rostock and to the Hochschule Wismar, University of Applied Sciences: Technology, Business and Design. Both sides presented their research work aiming to find topics which would become the basis for future collaboration within the framework of the Horizon 2020 EU research program. Traditionally, we have had a fantastic social program including the fish lunch with the wonderful view of the Baltic sea, and dinner measured by “tons of meat and meters of beer”.
Dr. Kevin 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.
In 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.
Dr. 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.
LARICS researchers Tamara Petrović, Matko Orsag and Damjan Miklić, visiting TU Crete for training activities within the ACROSS project, gave talks about their current research in front of their host institution’s faculty and students.
Tamara Petrović gave a talk entitled “Control of Multi-Vehicle Systems in Warehouse environments”, about ongoing research activities in centralized and decentralized control of routing, coordination and localization of Multi-Vehicle systems in structured environments.
Matko Orsag gave a talk entitled “Human-in-the-loop Control of Mobile Manipulating Unmanned Aerial Vehicle”, about ongoing LARICS research activities concerning Cooperative Aerial Manipulation.
Damjan Miklić gave a talk entitled “Nao robots and kids: from playing and educating, to autism rehabilitation”, about recent teaching and research activities conducted by the LARICS Lab with the Nao robots. The presentation accompanying the talk is available for on line viewing at this link.
During his short visit to our Faculty, where he visited the ACROSS laboratory and gave a lecture entitled „Overview of research results in visual servoing“, Prof. Francois Chaumette, the leader of the Lagadic group at the IRISA/INRIA Institute Rennes, France, also visited LARICS and exchanged few words about research plans with young LARICS researchers.
During his short visit to our Faculty, where he came to be a part of the committee for defense of Damjan Miklic’s doctoral dissertation, he also found time to visit the ACROSS laboratory and LARICS laboratory and talk to young researchers working there. It should be mentioned that prof. Fierro was PhD advisor of Ivana Palunko and Domagoj Tolic, and the host of Damjan Miklic during his Fulbright fellowship spent in the prof. Fierro’s lab. Prof. Fierro expressed his willingness to explore possibilities of further collaboration between two laboratories.
Dr. 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.
Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and his team visited our Faculty to express support to the initiative of building a new Faculty Innovation Center which would employ young doctors of science in order to boost the Croatian ICT and EE industry by delivering advanced and competitive solutions for future globally concurrent products. For this purpose, the exhibition of a dozen of innovations developed at FER was prepared and one of the exhibits was the exploration and inspection robot for fire fighting units developed in our Lab. The interest which the Prime Minister showed in the robot and the attention of media motivate us to keep searching for funds to continue development of this robot.
LARICS team consisting of prof. Zdenko Kovacic, Damjan Miklic and Frano Petric visited Euroimpianti headquarters in Schio, Italy. The purpose of the visit was to discuss further collaboration on the FP7 project EC-SAFEMOBIL, specifically to arrange the technical details of localization tests that are to be performed in Euroimpianti facilites in the beginning of May. Along with the localization tests, industrial requirements for a warehousing scenario were discussed to clarify the needs of Euroimpianti and solutions proposed by LARICS.
We thank our partners at Euroimpianti for a warm welcome, very productive sessions and very inspiring tour of their facilities.
Within 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 (www.robolab.tuc.gr) 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?
Our distinguished guest, Prof. Miklos Vajta, visited the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing and held the invited lecture on the stability and approximate solution of a second order, nonlinear parabolic partial differential equation with given boundary- and initial conditions. A typical problem is to determine the transient temperature distribution of solids for given initial- and boundary conditions.