Tag Archives: phd

Lincoln computer science research papers accepted

Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems (L-CAS) submitted research papers to SAC 2017 and HRI 2017, and have been accepted.

The first paper to be presented at SAC 2017 is joint work with Dr Marc Hanheide‘s PhD student Peter Lightbody and Dr Tomas Krajnik on “A Versatile High-Performance Visual Fiducial Marker Detection System with Scalable Identity Encoding”.

Fiducial markers have a wide field of applications in robotics, ranging from external localisation of single robots or robotic swarms, over self-localisation in marker-augmented environments, to simplifying perception by tagging objects in a robot’s surrounding.

We propose a new family of circular markers allowing for a computationally efficient detection, identification and full 3D position estimation. A key concept of our system is the separation of the detection and identification steps, where the first step is based on a computationally efficient circular marker detection, and the identification step is based on an open-ended `necklace code’, which allows for a theoretically infinite number of individually identifiable markers.

The experimental evaluation of the system on a real robot indicates that while the proposed algorithm achieves similar accuracy to other state-of-the-art methods, it is faster by two orders of magnitude and it can detect markers from longer distances.

The second paper that has been accepted at HRI 2017, which has an acceptance rate of only 24%, is co-authored by Marc Hanheide, Denise Hebesberger, and Tomas Krajnik:
“The When, Where, and How: An Adaptive Robotic Info-Terminal for Care Home Residents – a long-term study”

Adapting to users’ intentions is a key requirement for autonomous robots in general, and in-care settings in particular. In this paper, a comprehensive long-term study of a mobile robot providing information services to residents, visitors, and staff of a care home is presented with a focus on adapting to the when and where the robot should be offering its services to best accommodate the users’ needs.

Rather than providing a fixed schedule, the presented system takes the opportunity of long-term deployment to explore the space of possibilities of interaction while concurrently exploiting the model learned to provide better services. But in order to provide effective services to users in a care home, not only the when and where are relevant, but also the way the information is provided and accessed. Hence, also the usability of the deployed system is studied specifically, in order to provide a most comprehensive overall assessment of a robotic info-terminal implementation in a care setting.

Our results back our hypotheses, (i) that learning a spatiotemporal model of users’ intentions improves efficiency and usefulness of the system, and (ii) that the specific information sought after is indeed dependent on the location the info-terminal is offered.

This is a great achievement for our PhD students and researchers, and you can keep up to date with our L-CAS research here: https://lcas.lincoln.ac.uk/wp/ 


Student presents robotics research at international conference

A PhD student from the School of Computer Science was invited to present his research at one of the world’s most important conferences on human-robot interaction.

Christian Dondrup was just one of two students chosen to give a presentation at the prestigious HRI Pioneers workshop at the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, held at Bielefeld University, Germany, earlier this month.

More than 300 leading researchers from 25 different countries attended the conference to discuss new theories and research findings.

Topics ranged from developing naturally interacting robots, to visual attention in robotics systems and emotional robots.

Christian said: “Being selected to give one of the talks and present a poster was a huge honour for me and it was a fantastic experience to talk in front of all the PhD students pioneering in HRI and the selected keynote speakers. It was also a great opportunity for networking to foster future collaborations.”

His research focusses on developing a robot which can adapt its spatial behaviour over time according to the environment it is working in.

Christian said: “The motivation for this research stems from the future vision of being able to buy a mobile service robot for your own household, unpack it, switch it on, and have it behave in an intelligent way; but of course it also has to adapt to your personal preferences over time. My work is focusing on the spatial aspect of the robot’s behaviours, which means when it is moving in a confined, shared space with a human it will also take the communicative character of these movements into account. This adaptation to the users preferences should come from experience which the robot gathers throughout several days or months of interaction and not from a programmer hard-coding certain behaviours.”

Christian has been using ‘Linda’ the robot, from the Spatio-Temporal Representations and Activities for Cognitive Control in Long-term scenarios (STRANDS) project, to test and validate the developed algorithms. Linda will be deployed in an elder care home over several months to gather this experience.

The multi-million pound STRANDS project involves computer scientists from the University of Lincoln and a number of European partners, including security company G4S Technology Ltd and the Academy of Ageing Research, an Austrian care home provider.

The aim is to create mobile robots that are able to operate intelligently and independently, based on an understanding of 3D space and how this space changes over time, from milliseconds to months.

Another part of Christian’s research is looking for implicit cues that occur during natural interaction between human and robot, and finding indications for so-called hesitation signals.

These occur during Human-Robot Spatial Interaction (HRSI) when the human participant is confused by the robot’s behaviour which can lead to annoyance very quickly.

This study was conducted in collaboration with the School of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Lincoln using high precision motion capture cameras.

In a mock-up restaurant scenario, the participants were put into the same confined shared space with Linda and played waiters, delivering drinks while Linda was taking orders from the supposed guest.

The team evaluated the reaction of the participants to different behaviours the robot showed and found indications for these hesitation signals when the robot was behaving in an unsocial way.

Christian also presented these preliminary results to the conference and the resulting so-called “Late Breaking Report” paper was one of six out of 109 nominated for the best paper award.

Strands close up 2 John Robertson

Funded PhD Position – Cognitive Robotics

Using robots to understand animal social cognition:

We are offering a funded PhD position for an enthusiastic and highly-motivated student to join a thriving and dynamic research environment, and benefit from close associations with both the School of Life Sciences and the School of Computer Science.

The aim of this project is to develop a robot that is able to respond dynamically to the behaviour of the focal animal and use it in a series of cognitive experiments. Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) are an ideal model species for such an endeavour. They are responsive to social cues and show sophisticated social learning abilities. In addition they have relatively simple behavioural repertoires and movement patterns which can be accurately replicated by a robotic simulant.


For more information and details on how to apply for this exciting opportunity contact Dr. John Murray (jomurray@lincoln.ac.uk)