TERAIS (Towards Excellent Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at a Slovak university) is an international project funded by the Horizon Europe programme under the Twinning call that started at the beginning of October 2022. The ultimate goal of the TERAIS project is to elevate the Department of Applied Informatics at Comenius University in Bratislava to a workplace of international academic excellence in the field of cognitive robotics and artificial intelligence.
Human-Aware Artificial Systems Workshop
The Italian Institute of Technology is organizing the second TERAIS event, workshop on human-aware artificial systems on January 31, 2023 at 9:15 – 13:00 (CET) at the Center for Human Technologies of IIT.
Agenda at the IIT website.
The development of artificial intelligent systems as interactive instruments and collaborators of human well-being requires them to be designed on a human scale. To this aim, human awareness can be considered the system’s capability to interpret human behavior and be sensitive to their inner states, such as beliefs, emotions, or intentions. At the intersection of Cognitive Robotics, Machine Learning, and Human-Robot Interaction, this approach suggests that the robot should maintain a model of humans to understand, predict and anticipate their actions, needs and limitations. Informed of this, artificial systems could understand information more or less covertly expressed in human behavior. Also, this would allow robots to communicate and cooperate in ways that are intuitive for the human partner. From this perspective, human awareness is open to two other crucial features: explainability and trustworthiness. Human users need to understand how machines reach their decisions. This also concerns human-robot interaction, where explainable robotic behavior supports trust and safety from the human perspective. Mutual reliance and trustworthy interactions are allowed by mutual knowledge of the parties. Only by developing artificial systems with abilities to comprehend humans and to be comprehensible by them, the quest for a human-centered technology will be achieved.
TERAIS Opening Event
The opening event of the TERAIS EU project will be a seminar on cognitive robotics. The list of invited speakers of the seminar includes Prof. Giulio Sandini from IIT Genoa, Dr. Cornelius Weber from the University of Hamburg and Assoc. Prof. Matěj Hoffmann from CTU in Prague.
The seminar will be held on Wednesday, 7th December 2022 in the Congress Centre of Družba Hotel on Botanická Street in Bratislava from 8:00 starting with morning coffee until 15:00 ending with a social lunch. The seminar is free of charge for participants, but due to the limited capacity a registration no later than 4th December 2022 is required using the registration form.
|08:00||Door opens – Morning coffee|
|09:15 – 10:05|| TALK 1: Giulio Sandini, Carlo Mazzola (IIT Genoa, IT)|
Cognitive Robotics for Interaction: a Human-centered Approach
|10:05 – 10:55|| TALK 2: Cornelius Weber, Hassan Ali (Uni Hamburg, DE)|
Deep Neural Learning for Interactive Robots
|10:55||coffee (coffee, cake, sandwich)|
|11:20 – 12:10|| TALK 3: Matěj Hoffmann, Valentin Marcel (CTU Prague CZ)|
From Self-Touch and Self-Vision to Reaching Using a Deep Generative Model
|12:10 – 13:00|| TALK 4: Igor Farkaš, Andrej Lúčny (UK Bratislava, SK)|
Elements of Cognitive Robotics in a Simulated Environment Using Neural Networks
|13:10||Lunch & socializing|
Giulio Sandini is Founding Director the Italian Institute of Technology and full professor of bioengineering at the University of Genoa. After graduating in Electronic Engineering (Bioengineering) at the University of Genova he was research fellow and assistant professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa until 1984. During this period, working at the Laboratorio di Neurofisiologia of the CNR, he investigated aspects of visual processing at the level of single neurons as well as aspects of visual perception in human adults and children. He has been Visiting Research Associate at the Department of Neurology of the Harvard Medical School in Boston where he developed diagnostic techniques based on brain electrical activity mapping. After his return to Genova in 1984 as associate professor, in 1990 he founded the LIRA-Lab (Laboratory for Integrated Advanced Robotics, www.liralab.it). In 1996 he was Visiting Scientist at the Artificial Intelligence Lab of MIT. Since July 2006 Giulio Sandini has been appointed Director of Research at the Italian Institute of Technology where he has established and is currently directing the Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences Unit at IIT.
Cornelius Weber graduated in physics at Universität Bielefeld, Germany, and received his PhD in computer science at Technische Universität Berlin. Following positions were a Postdoctoral Fellow in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, USA; Research Scientist in Hybrid Intelligent Systems, University of Sunderland, UK; Junior Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, Germany. Currently he is Lab Manager at Knowledge Technology, Universität Hamburg. His interests are in computational neuroscience, development of visual feature detectors, neural models of representations and transformations, reinforcement learning and robot control, grounded language learning, human-robot interaction, and related applications in social assistive robotics.
Matej Hoffmann was born in Prague, Czech Republic and received his MSc degree in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2006. Between 2006 and 2013 he completed his PhD degree and then served as Senior Research Associate at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, University of Zurich, Switzerland (Prof. Rolf Pfeifer). In 2013 he joined the iCub Facility of the Italian Institute of Technology (Prof. Giorgio Metta), supported by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (iCub Body Schema, 2014-2016). In 2017, he joined the Department of Cybernetics, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague where I'm currently serving as Associate Professor and leading a group focused on cognitive, neuro-, collaborative, and humanoid robotics. In his research, Matej Hoffmann employs the so-called synthetic methodology, or "understanding by building", with two main goals, which are understanding cognition and its development and robot safety. In particular, he is interested in the "body in the brain" question: how do babies learn to represent their bodies and the space around it (peripersonal space) and what are the mechanisms in the brain and approaches it via building embodied computational models on humanoid robots. Taking inspiration from humans, Matej and his lab make robots exploit multimodal information (mostly vision and touch) to share space with humans with focus on both physical and social human-robot interaction.
Igor Farkaš holds a PhD degree in applied informatics and MSc degree in technical cybernetics, both from the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava. In 2000-2003 he worked as a research fellow (postdoc) at the Department of Psychology, University of Richmond, VA where he worked on connectionist modeling of early lexical acquisition. Since 2003 he has been affiliated with the Department of Applied Informatics of the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics, Comenius University in Bratislava, since 2014 as a full professor and the head of department. He coordinates the Cognition and Neural Computation research group, and the Centre for Cognitive Science. Igor Farkaš received a prestigious Fulbright scholarship (Department of Computer Science, University of Texas in Austin), and Humboldt scholarship (Department of Computational Linguistics and Phonetics, Saarland University, Germany). His research interests include understanding artificial neural network models, and their use for cognitive modeling in robotics and language, reinforcement learning, intrinsic motivation and the concept of abstractness. In the field of education, he is the faculty coordinator of the Middle European interdisciplinary master program in Cognitive Science (MEi:CogSci).
Andrej Lúčny received his Ph.D. in applied informatics from Comenius University in Bratislava, where he works as an assistant professor at the Department of Applied Informatics. His research integrates methods of artificial intelligence and computer vision into real-time systems. He has developed a blackboard-based architecture for mobile robot control and applied it to studying the self-recognition of robots in the mirror and the imitation game. He is a former system development manager and management member in a worldwide operating SME. He designed several products for the monitoring market, including airport weather systems, nuclear power plant warning systems, and tire production quality checks. For several years he worked for EC as an evaluator of FP7/H2020 projects (Factories of Future). He is a co-founder of civil society Robotika.sk which deals with the popularization of robotics in Slovakia.
Carlo Mazzola is Research Fellow at the Italian Institute of Technology in the unit Cognitive Architectures for Collaborative Technologies (CONTACT), where he works for the EU-funded project TERAIS (Towards Excellent Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at a Slovak university). He graduated (MS) in Philosophy at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano (Italy), after a period at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal (Germany), with a thesis about the role of imagination and empathy in perception. After a period as Visiting Scientist at the Italian Institute of Technology in the CONTACT unit, in which he explored mechanisms of social perception in HRI, in 2019 he started his Ph.D. in the same institute in the unit Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences (RBCS), in which he investigated and developed mechanisms of Shared Perception between humans and the humanoid robot iCub. In 2022 he has been Visiting Student at the Cognitive Robotics Lab of the University of Manchester (Department of Computer Science).
Hassan Ali is a research associate at the Knowledge Technology group, University of Hamburg, Germany. He has a B.Sc. degree in informatics with a major in software engineering and information systems from Tishreen University, Syria. He has completed his M.Sc. studies in the Intelligent Adaptive Systems program at the University of Hamburg. Previously, he worked as a teaching assistant at Tishreen University. His main research interests include deep learning, neural networks, cognitive robotics, human-robot interaction, and neuro-inspired gesture recognition.
Valentin Marcel is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Czech Technical University in Prague, in the Humanoid and cognitive robotics team. His main research interest is the study of embodied perception using artificial agents, modeling how body movements and interaction with the environment fundamentally shape the perception of the world. He is currently working with developmental psychologists to study the development of body know-how in early infancy, using deep neural networks, variational methods, and humanoid robotic platforms endowed with artificial skin.
The international project Towards Excellent Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at a Slovak university (TERAIS), funded by the Horizon Europe programme under the Twinning call started at the beginning of October 2022. The lead partner of the project is the Department of Applied Informatics (DAI) of Comenius University in Bratislava (UKBA), which is to become a workplace of international academic excellence. Its scientists will collaborate with distinguished academic partners from the University of Hamburg in Germany and the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa. The project has four key pillars, namely the development of people, international networking, research excellence, and research support.
“The joint research will focus on cognitive robotics using artificial neural networks and deep learning, which are currently cutting-edge technologies in the field of artificial intelligence. This research will contribute to the development of robots that are trustworthy for humans to interact with on a daily basis. We believe that the collaborative research and sharing of knowledge within the partnership will take the research and innovation in our workplace to an international level. The project will raise the awareness of the general public about robot-related technologies as a key component of a modern IT-based society and increase the reputation, profile and attractiveness of Slovak research institutions,” said Professor Igor Farkaš, the head of DAI and the project coordinator.
The project will also examine the current conditions and needs of scientists at the Department of Applied Informatics at the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics of Comenius University. Based on the analysis, a plan will be developed to make the human capital development more systematic and lifelong. International staff and student exchanges will play an indispensable role in this process. Specific activities will focus on building the necessary research support structures for successful project proposals. Researchers of UKBA will be given the opportunity to draw inspiration from the long-term experience of the international partners during exchange visits.
International cooperation will contribute to networking and the establishment of long-term and sustainable international research partnerships. Links will also be established with other key players in the local innovation ecosystem, such as IT companies and technology start-ups. Dissemination and communication will be fostered through staff and student exchanges as well as the organization of joint events such as webinars and workshops. The submission of joint funding proposals and the joint preparation of research publications are also planned. Modern means of dissemination and communication will be used to inform about the outcomes of the project and the joint research activities.
The three-year long project has a budget of 1.6 million euro. It is supported by the European Union scientific research initiative Horizon Europe (92%) and co-financed by Comenius University (8%).