This year LARICS students received again two Rector Awards; Tomislav Petkovic and Luka Petrovic mentored by Prof. Stjepan Bogdan, for their work “Decentralized Control of Multi-agent Robotic Systems”, and Luka Malovan and Mirko Kokot mentored by Prof. Zdenko Kovacic for their work “Robot Assisted Autism Diagnostics: Evaluation of Robot-child Interaction”. Here is the list of all LARICS laureates in the last 16 years: 2001 – Bruno Birgmajer; 2002 – Ivan Ljubic; 2003 – Goran Genter and Ranko Munk; 2005 – Alan Mutka, 2006 – Andrija Ersek and Ivana Palunko; 2007 – Maja Varga, Matko Orsag and Mario Dogan; 2008 – Davor Mihaljevic, Robert Rantes and Petar Mateljak; Zoran Vrhovski, Ivan Jakus and Natasa Kovjanovic; 2009 – Kristian Hengster Movric; 2011 – Grgo Cupic; Frano Petric and Ivan Rajkovic, 2012 – Josip Cesic, Jurica Goricanec, and Tomislav Haus; 2013 – Edin Koco. 2014 – Marko Car and Antun Ivanovic; Anja Babic and Nikola Jagodin, 2015 – Luka Fucek, Antun Vukicevic and Josip Vukicevic; Damir Mirkovic, 2016 – Tomislav Petkovic, Luka Petrovic, Luka Malovan and Mirko Kokot. It is worth to mention that we had also two recipients of the Rector Award in the pre-LARICS era, 1993 – Kresimir Mudrovcic and 1994 – Marinko Markic.
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”.
We are pleased to announce that the book chapter “Harmonization of Research and Development Activities Toward Standardization in the Automated Warehousing Systems” co-authored by Z. Kovačić, M. Butler, P. Lista, G. Vasiljević, I. Draganjac, D. Miklić, T. Petrović, and F. Petric has been just published in the book Autonomous Industrial Vehicles: From the Laboratory to the Factory Floor, Editor(s): R. Bostelman (NIST); E. Messina, ASTM International, pp. 106-128, April 2016 (available on-line: DOI:10.1520/STP159420150050). In this chapter, we describe some ideas of robotic system standardization based on the recently concluded research and development processes in the European FP7 project named EC-SAFEMOBIL, which was focused on estimation and control technologies for safe, wireless, high-mobility cooperative systems. In the given analysis of possible standardization of automated warehousing systems, we elaborate on ideas on how to overcome evident gaps between academic achievements and viable industry practice. Paying particular attention to process and development standards, as well as function-specific standards, we describe our view of reaching new standards in automated warehousing systems, particularly with a number of deployed automated guided vehicles (AGVs).
In front of the assessment committee (Prof. Stjepan Bogdan, Prof. Zdenko Kovacic, and Prof. Ivana Palunko), LARICS PhD student Goran vasiljevic mentored by Prof. Kovacic successfully presented and defended the topic of his doctoral dissertation entitled „High precision markerless localization of mobile robots in indoor industrial environments“. The Committee agreed upon expected scientific contributions and thereafter, the Faculty Council and the Technical Committee of the University of Zagreb should still approve the given topic proposal. The aim of this doctoral dissertation is to extend the current state of the art in the indoor industrial environments and eliminate limitations present in current systems due to the use of marker-based localization solutions. Contribution is intended to be achieved by development and implementation of new localization methods, in order to achieve the accuracy required within specific industrial applications that can only be achieved using markers. Developed new methods are planned to be implemented on a real autonomous forklift and their performance validated in realistic indoor industrial conditions (automated warehouses).
On May 23rd, Jutarnji list, one of the most prominent Croatian newspaper published an article about subCULTron project. Featured on the front page, it encompasses an extensive interview with our own Prof. Stjepan Bogdan and Asst. Prof. Nikola Mišković from Laboratory for Underwater Systems and Technologies, LABUST. The article provided a great visibility to the project and yielded many positive reactions. Other LARICS members working on subCULTron project are Tamara Petrović, Goran Vasiljević and Barbara Arbanas.
This year’s ICRA conference (IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation) held from 16th until 21st of May 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden was attended by multiple members of LARICS team. Matko Orsag, Tamara Petrović, Karlo Griparić, Tomislav Haus, Edin Kočo, Antun Ivanović, Barbara Arbanas and Marko Car participated in various conference activities.
In a short three minute presentation, Barbara presented the paper Aerial-ground robotic system for autonomous delivery tasks and was later joined by her coauthors Matko, Tamara, Tomislav, Antun and Marko in a forty minute interactive session, where conference attendees could ask questions about the presented paper in more detail.
Matko, Tamara, Karlo and Tomislav took part in “Nature vs. Nurture in Robotics” workshop, where they presented ASSISIbf project with a poster accompanied with a short presentation. They also attended a panel discussion on the same subject.
Conference was an overall success as we were able to present our laboratory to the community, as well as introduce the robotics@FER.hr brand which joins forces of three robotics labs from our faculty — LARICS, LABUST (Laboratory for Underwater Systems and Technologies) and LAMOR (Laboratory for Autonomous Systems and Mobile Robots).
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.
Paper “New Variable Passive-compliant Element Design for Quadruped Adaptation to Stiffness-varying Terrain”, written by Edin Koco, Alan Mutka and Prof. Zdenko Kovacic is now published online in the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems. The paper presents the design of a novel variable passive-compliant (VPC) element utilized as a lower-leg implant of a fully electrically driven quadruped robot. It is designed as a slider-piston mechanism which ensures that the force produced during a foot-ground contact is directly perpendicular to the contact surface of an actuated revolute spring. In this way, by altering the stiffness of quadruped legs in a closed-loop manner, the VPC element enables the quadruped robot to adapt to varying terrain characteristics, ensuring a constant hopping frequency over a wide range of terrain-stiffness variations.
Paper “High-accuracy vehicle localization for autonomous warehousing”, written by Goran Vasiljevic, Damjan Miklic, Ivica Draganjac and prof. Zdenko Kovacic will be published in the Robotics and Computer-integrated manufacturing journal. The paper presents the algorithm stack for high-precision autonomous vehicle localization, developed within the FP7 EC-SAFEMOBIL project. The proposed methodology satisfies the industrial requirements for localization accuracy and has been verified by extensive experiments in realistic industrial conditions. Full paper can be accessed via the following link, which will be available until July 3, 2016.
Prof. Zdenko Kovacic, Goran Vasiljevic and Edin Koco participated in the kick-off meeting of the new LARICS project ADELE organized in the Ford Research Centre in Aaachen. This was the opportunity to introduce our side better and to discuss with our partners from Ford first steps to be taken in the project. Being primarily focused on the LNT (Lean NOx Trap) models, the task of the project is to establish methods and algorithms for optimal transfer of the measured data into the existing models using the evolutionary learning methods. Aachen is a very attractive place to be with the famous Aachen cathedral (Dom), built by Charlemagne in the 8th century, being for centuries the coronation church of more than 30 German kings.
Job Fair is the event organized by FER seen in the eyes of students as a unique opportunity for them to meet potential future employers. This year FER was present also as an employer offering a number of vacant positions, from doctoral to postdoctoral. Ever since our postdoctorand Domagoj Tolic left to Dubrovnik, LARICS is offering a free postdoctoral position at the project ADORE. Therefore, Prof. Zdenko Kovacic and Dr. Damjan Miklić took part in the FER Job Fair and at the FER’s stand presented the ADORE project to the interested parties and distributed leaflets hoping to attract the right person for the project.
LARICS had a unique opportunity to participate in the “Night of the Book” event organized by the FER library dedicated to the 400th anniversary of W. Shakespeare’s death. LARICS third-year undergraduate students (Brigita Vrbanec, Marko Kovacevic, Zvonimir Kunstek and Dominik Petrovic) played a scene from Karel Capek’s play R.U.R. together with NAO robots. Also, one of NAO robots demonstrated its ability to read Hamlet’s famous words “To be or not to be” projected on the screen.
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.
Under the cap ROBOTICS@FER.HR, LARICS participated together with LABUST and LAMOR as the exhibitor at the European Robotics Forum ERF 2016 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. ERF 2016 is the largest gathering of roboticists in Europe with more than 600 participants and more than 20 exhibitors showing their robots and robotic solutions. Three FER robotics laboratories presented at their stand several exhibits including a heavy load carrying quadrocopter, an autonomous surface vehicle for marine operations and a robot for exploration in hazardous environments. Many new contacts and presentations held during the numerous Forum sessions are valuable stocks for future projects.
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.
Prof. Zdenko Kovacic, Dr. Tamara Petrovic and Goran Vasiljevic attended the EC-SAFEMOBIL Final Review Meeting in Brussels, Belgium where they presented and successfully defended the results of the last project period of LARICS research team in this FP7 project. The meeting finished successfully with the positive feedback of the Project Officer and the Review Committee members.
The EC-SAFEMOBIL project was devoted to the development of sufficiently accurate motion estimation and control methods and technologies in order to reach levels of reliability and safety to facilitate unmanned vehicle deployment in a broad range of applications. It also included the development of a secure architecture and the middleware to support the implementation. As shown in the final experiments video, the EC-SAFEMOBIL project developed world first technology demonstrators in several applications dealing with the landing of UAVs on mobile platforms in challenging conditions, the launching of an UAV from a manned vehicle, the surveillance, and the automated warehousing involving a large number of autonomous vehicles.
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 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.
Our laboratory has received a valuable donation of Schneider Electric, Zagreb. We have got eight analog I/O modules as add-ons to the eight previously donated Modicon M238 PLCs. This donation will enable our students to solve complex control problems in their automation and robotics projects and laboratory exercises. We take this opportunity to thank Schneider Electric for their continuous support to the quality of education in these two vibrant areas.
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 received a grant from Ford Motor Company for a 3-year project Advanced evolutionary learning based methods for optimal characterisation of non-linear aftertreatment technologies (ADELE) whose main focus of research will be on LNT (Lean NOx Trap) models. The task is to establish methods and algorithms for optimal transfer of the measured data into the existing models or identify the need for specific model features that need to be added or enhanced in order to improve the model prediction quality. Funding is provided through the FORD Global University Research Programs (URP). Edin Koco and Goran Vasiljevic form a core of the LARICS research team together with the LARICS PhD student Slaven Glumac. The partner in the project is Ford Research Center Aachen represented by LARICS alumni Dr. Mario Balenovic.