Tuesday - May 30, 2017


Plenary 1, 08:45-09:45
Gerdes J Christian (Stanford University, USA)

Keynote 1, 13:45-14:15
Louis Phee (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
EndoMaster: A Surgical Robot’s Journey from the Research Lab to the Operating Theatre

Keynote 2, 14:15-14:45
Lourdes Agapito (University College London, UK)
Capturing Vivid 3D Models of the World from Video

Wednesday - May 31, 2017


Plenary 2, 08:20-09:20
Hiroaki Kitano (Sony Research Lab, Japan)

Keynote 3, 12:30-13:00
Peter Luh (University of Connecticut, US)
Industry 4.0 – Automation and Robotics

Keynote 4, 13:00-13:30
Ayanna Howard (Georgia Tech, USA)
Research at the Intersection Between Robots and Play: Designing Robots for Children’s Healthcare

Thursday - June 1, 2017


Plenary 3, 08:20-09:20
Kerstin Vignard (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research)

Keynote 5, 14:50-15:20
Bill Huang (Cloud Minds, China)
An Operational Platform of Cloud Robotics

Keynote 6, 15:20-15:50
Katja Mombaur (University of Heidelberg, Germany)
Model-based Optimization for Humanoid and Wearable Robots​

Programme is tentative and subject to change.

Plenary Speakers

Gerdes J Christian (Stanford University, USA)


Hiroaki Kitano (Sony Research Lab, Japan)

Kerstin Vignard (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research)

Framing the International Discussion on the Weaponization of Increasingly Autonomous Technologies

There are a multitude of positive military applications for increasingly autonomous technologies. However, their potential weaponization raises a host of legal, technical, operational and ethical questions. Since 2013, member states of the United Nations have been discussing the weaponization of increasingly autonomous technologies (Lethal Autonomous Robots, Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems, or so-called “killer robots”) in both human rights and arms control fora. Four years in, there is still great division on definitions, how to ensure human control over these future weapon systems, and the appropriate policy responses.

These political discussions are held in the near absence of the technical community. As the rate of technological innovation far outpaces the policy discussion, how might engagement with the technical experts enable international policy-makers to better think, discuss and make informed decisions about increasing autonomy in weapon systems?

Bio: Kerstin Vignard, a dual US-French national, is an international security policy professional with over 20 years’ experience at the United Nations. As Deputy Director and Chief of Operations at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, she advises the Director on strategic direction and oversees all activities of the Institute.

Since 2013, she has led UNIDIR’s work on the weaponization of increasingly autonomous technologies, which has focused on advancing the multilateral discussion on weaponized autonomy by refining the areas of concern, identifying relevant linkages, and learning from approaches from other domains, including the private sector, that may be of relevance. This work has provided insights and conceptual frameworks to enable international policy-makers to better think, discuss and make informed decisions about autonomy in weapon systems, for example within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the UN Human Rights Council. In addition, Vignard has served as consultant to four UN Groups of Governmental Experts on cyber warfare.

Keynote Speakers

Lourdes Agapito (University College London, UK)

Capturing Vivid 3D Models of the World from Video

As humans we take the ability to perceive the dynamic world around us in three dimensions for granted. From an early age we can grasp an object by adapting our fingers to its 3D shape; we can understand our mother’s feelings by interpreting her facial expressions; or we can effortlessly navigate through a busy street. All of these tasks require some internal 3D representation of shape, deformations and motion.

Building algorithms that can emulate this level of human 3D perception has proved to be a much harder task. In this session, I will show progress from early systems which captured sparse 3D models with primitive representations of deformation towards the most recent algorithms which can capture every fold and detail of hands or faces in 3D using as input video sequences taken with a single consumer camera. There is now great short-term potential for commercial uptake of this technology, and I will show applications to robotics, augmented and virtual reality and minimally invasive surgery.

Bio: Professor Lourdes Agapito obtained her BSc, MSc and PhD (1996) degrees from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain). She held an EU Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship at The University of Oxford's Robotics Research Group before being appointed as a Lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London in 2001. In 2008 she was awarded an ERC Starting Grant to carry out research on the estimation of 3D models of non-rigid surfaces from monocular video sequences. In July 2013 she joined the Department of Computer Science at University College London (UCL) as a Reader where she leads a research team that focuses on 3D dynamic scene understanding from video and became full Professor of 3D Computer Vision in 2015.

Lourdes was Program Chair for CVPR 2016, the top annual conference in computer vision; in addition she was Programme Chair for 3DV'14 and Area Chair for CVPR'14, ECCV'14, ACCV'14 and Workshops Chair for ECCV'14. She has been keynote speaker for CVMP'15 and for several workshops associated with the main computer vision conferences (ICCV, CVPR and ECCV). Lourdes is Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (PAMI) and the International Journal of Computer Vision (IJCV), a member of the Executive Committee of the British Machine Vision Association and a member of the EPSRC Peer Review College.

Ayanna Howard (Georgia Tech, USA)

Research at the Intersection Between Robots and Play: Designing Robots for Children’s Healthcare

There are an estimated 150 million children worldwide living with a disability. For many of these children, physical therapy is provided as an intervention mechanism to support the child’s academic, developmental, and functional goals from birth and beyond. With the recent advances in robotics, therapeutic intervention protocols using robots is now ideally positioned to make an impact in this domain. There are numerous challenges though that still must be addressed to enable successful interaction between patients, clinicians, and robots - developing interfaces for clinicians to communicate with their robot counterparts; developing learning methods to endow robots with the ability to playfully interact with the child; and ensuring that the robot can provide feedback to the parent and clinician in a trustworthy manner.

I will discuss the role of robotics and related technologies for pediatric therapy and highlight our methods that bring us closer to this goal. I will present our approaches and preclinical studies in which these technologies address real-life developmental goals for children with special needs.

Bio: Ayanna Howard, Ph.D. is Professor and Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Endowed Chair in Bioengineering in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She also holds the position of Associate Chair for Faculty Development in ECE. She received her B.S. in Engineering from Brown University, her M.S.E.E. from the University of Southern California, and her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California.

Her area of research is centered around the concept of humanized intelligence, the process of embedding human cognitive capability into the control path of autonomous systems. This work, which addresses issues of autonomous control as well as aspects of interaction with humans and the surrounding environment, has resulted in over 200 peer-reviewed publications in a number of projects – from scientific rover navigation in glacier environments to assistive robots for the home. To date, her unique accomplishments have been highlighted through a number of awards and articles, including highlights in USA Today, Upscale, and TIME Magazine, as well as being named a MIT Technology Review top young innovator and recognized as one of the 23 most powerful women engineers in the world by Business Insider.

In 2013, she also founded Zyrobotics, which is currently licensing technology derived from her research and has released their first suite of therapy and educational products for children with differing needs. From 1993-2005, Dr. Howard was at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. She has also served a term as the Associate Director of Research for the Georgia Tech Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines and a term as Chair of the multidisciplinary Robotics Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech.

Bill Huang (Cloud Minds, China)

An Operational Platform of Cloud Robotics

Cloud Robotics is a kind of robot whose “brains” are on cloud, with a global high-speed backbone network as the “nerve”. In the near future, all the intelligent robots will be Cloud Robotics. At this session, we will introduce the architecture of Cloud Robotics, and how to build an operational platform for millions of robots with human assistant robot intelligence, mobile intranet cloud services, and robot control units.

Bio: Bill Huang is Founder and CEO of CloudMinds Inc. Before Cloudminds, he was GM of China Mobile Research Institute, SVP and CTO of UTStarcom, and previously worked at AT&T Bell Labs. Bill has creatively proposed the soft-switch concept of "the Network is the Switch", developed the first mobile soft-switch system in the world, and developed the first carrier-class streaming media exchange and IPTV system. He proposed the strategic concept of constructing the three major infrastructures (network, applications and terminals) of the next-generation mobile internet for the carriers, and promoted TD-LTE to be an internationally mainstream B3G standard, thus raising the technological influence of China in the communications industry.

In 2016, Bill was honoured IEEE CQR award. Besides, He is one of the first group of “Talent 1000” plan of China, a professor of University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, and a board member of GPS International Advisory Board of UC San Diego.

Bill received his master degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Illinois in 1984. He graduated from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in 1982 with a bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering.

Peter Luh (University of Connecticut, US)

Industry 4.0 – Automation and Robotics​

Industry 4.0 is a confluence of trends and technologies pushed by the digital revolution and the “Internet of Things” and driven by customer demand for high quality and customized products at reasonable prices. With the ubiquitous connection and interaction of machines, things and people, including customers, the ways we design and manufacture products and provide services will be fundamentally changed. 

In this talk, Industry 4.0 will be introduced from the perspective of automation and robotics, including design principles and key technologies. An important but difficult technology often missing in discussions – mathematical optimization, will be highlighted. Applications to Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing will be illustrated. Implications on robotics will be discussed. Industry 4.0 in the USA, Europe, China and Japan will also be introduced.

Bio: Peter B. Luh received his B.S. from National Taiwan University, M.S. from M.I.T., and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has been with the University of Connecticut since 1980, and currently is the SNET Professor of Communications & Information Technologies. He is also a member of the Chair Professors Group, Center for Intelligent and Networked Systems (CFINS) in the Department of Automation, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

Professor Luh is a Fellow of IEEE, and a member of IEEE TAB Periodicals Committee. He was the VP of Publications of RAS (2008-2011), the founding Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering (2003-2007), and the Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation (1999-2003). His research interests include intelligent manufacturing systems, smart power systems, and smart and green buildings. He received IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) 2013 Pioneer Award for his pioneering contributions to the development of near-optimal and efficient planning, scheduling, and coordination methodologies for manufacturing and power systems. He is the 2017 recipient of the RAS George Saridis Leadership Award for his exceptional vision and leadership in strengthening and advancing Automation in the RAS. 

Katja Mombaur (University of Heidelberg, Germany)

Model-based Optimization for Humanoid and Wearable Robots​

In this talk, I give an overview of our research on motion optimization for humanoid and wearable robots. On the one hand, we are interested to improve the walking capabilities of humanoid robots in different terrains. Optimization based on realistic mechanical models of the robots is a very helpful tool since it can generate motions for such redundant, underactuated systems with multiple degrees of freedom and changing contacts that are feasible, stable and optimal. Optimization can also be applied to compliant robots.

On the other hand, we are interested to improve the design and control of wearable robots for the lower limbs and the lower back and other assistive devices. Using combined models of humans and the devices and optimal control, we can predict human movement in different conditions and determine the best possible support actions selecting passive and active components.

One important approach for both research fields is the solution of inverse optimal control problems based on recorded motion data which allows to identify objective functions underlying human movement. These optimality criteria can then be transferred to humanoid robots or be used for human movement prediction. For both fields, I will discuss the modeling levels to be used for describing humans and robots to address specific research questions. In addition, I will discuss possible combinations of optimal control methods with reinforcement learning and movement primitive approaches to reduce computation times and improve robot control.

Bio: Katja Mombaur is a full professor at the Institute of Computer Engineering (ZITI) of Heidelberg University and head of the Optimization in Robotics & Biomechanics (ORB) group as well as the Robotics Lab. She holds a diploma degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Stuttgart and a Ph.D. degree in Mathematics from Heidelberg University. She was a postdoctoral researcher in the Robotics Lab at Seoul National University, South Korea. She also spent two years as a visiting researcher in the Robotics department of LAAS-CNRS in Toulouse.

Katja is the coordinator of the newly founded Heidelberg Center for Motion Research. She also is PI in the European H2020 project SPEXOR and the Graduate School HGS MathComp as well as in several national projects. Until recently, she has coordinated the EU FP7 project KoroiBot and was PI in the EU projects MOBOT and ECHORD–GOP. She is founding chair of the IEEE RAS technical committee Model-based optimization for robotics.

Louis Phee (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

EndoMaster: A Surgical Robot’s Journey from the Research Lab to the Operating Theatre​

I will share my experiences in developing a novel flexible robotic system that removes gastric and colon tumours using natural orifices as points of access. I will discuss the technical and medical challenges faced to push the research to successfully test the robot on human subjects. Thereafter, a company (EndoMaster) was incorporated to commercialise the product. The challenges faced in the translation of the robotic technology to be used in a clinical setting were entirely different from the research phase. By sharing my experiences, I hope to inspire more researchers to translate their research and inventions to actual useful products.

Bio: Dr Louis Phee is a Professor at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. He is Chair of the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at NTU. He graduated from NTU with the B.Eng (Hons) and M.Eng degrees in 1996 and 1999 respectively. He obtained his PhD from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy in 2002 on a European Union scholarship. His research interests include Medical Robotics and Mechatronics in Medicine. He was the founding CEO of EndoMaster Pte Ltd, a company he co-founded to commercialize a surgical robotic system he developed.

Dr Phee was awarded the Young Scientist Award (2006), the Outstanding Young Persons of Singapore Award (2007), the Nanyang Outstanding Young Alumni Award (2011), Nanyang Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award (2013) and the President’s Technology Award (2012). In 2005, he was awarded the Best Paper Award at the prestigious IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.