Summary

  • Assistant Professor at Ritsumeikan

  • Appointed Researcher for Toyota

  • Research Advisor for Panasonic

  • Founder of Coarobo

Lotfi El Hafi, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor at Ritsumeikan Global Innovation Research Organization (R-GIRO) for the International and Interdisciplinary Research Center for the Next-Generation Artificial Intelligence and Semiotics (AI+Semiotics) Project. He received in 2013 his MScEng in Mechatronics from the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), Belgium, where his Master thesis explored TICO compression, now JPEG XS, for Ultra HD 4K/8K video distribution in collaboration with intoPIX SA. After working for intoPIX SA as a Sales Engineer while being trained in the AWEX International Business & Management EXPLORT Program, he joined in 2014 the Robotics Laboratory of the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan, under the MEXT Scholarship Program where his Doctor thesis proposed Simultaneous Tracking and Attention Recognition from Eyes (STARE), a novel eye-tracking approach that leveraged deep learning to extract behavioral information from scenes reflected in the eyes. Today, his research interests include service robotics and artificial intelligence, with a particular interest in human-robot interaction. In this regard, he is the recipient of multiple research awards, such as the Best of IET and IBC 2016-2017 and the JST CREST Best Award for Forecasting Research Proposal 2019, as well as international robotics competition prizes, such as, among others, the 1st Place of Airbus Shopfloor Challenge 2016, the Finalist Prize of Amazon Robotics Challenge 2017, the NEDO Chairman's Award for Excellence in World Robot Summit 2018, the SICE Award for WRS Future Convenience Store Challenge 2018, and the 1st Places of WRS Future Convenience Store Challenge 2018 & 2019, which led him to become a Specially Appointed Researcher for the Toyota HSR Community, and a Research Advisor for Robotics Competitions at the Robotics Hub of Panasonic Corporation since 2019. Finally, he is also an active member of RSJ, JSME, IEEE, and the President & Founder of Coarobo GK.

2013年ベルギーのルーヴァンカトリック大学(UCLouvain)修士課程修了.2017年奈良先端科学技術大学院大学博士課程修了.博士(工学).同年,立命館グローバルイノベーション研究機構(R-GIRO)の専門研究員を経て,2019年同研究教員(助教)となり現在に至る.同年,トヨタHSR開発コミュニティのSpecially Appointed ResearcherとパナソニックRobotics HubのResearch Advisor for Robotics Competitionsを務める.主にサービスロボティクスや人工知能の研究に従事し,METI,NEDO,JST,SICE,IBC,IETから研究に関する賞等を受賞.RSJ,JSME,IEEEなどの会員.また,コアロボ合同会社の設立者であり,代表社員を務める.

Skills

Service Robotics

Artificial Intelligence

Information Science

Project Management

Academic Research

Experiences

  1. President & Founder

    Oct. 2019 - Present

    at Coarobo GK
    in Kyoto, Japan

    Details
    • Providing consulting services for innovative robotics solutions powered by state-of-the-art artificial intelligence.
  2. Research Assistant Professor

    Oct. 2019 - Present

    at Ritsumeikan University, Ritsumeikan Global Innovation Research Organization (R-GIRO)
    in Kusatsu (Kyoto Area), Japan

    Details
    • Pursuing research on developing novel model architectures for multimodal unsupervised learning in service robotics contexts.
    • Daily supervision of graduate students to help them produce higher-quality research in the fields of service robotics and artificial intelligence.
  3. Research Advisor for Robotics Competitions

    Apr. 2019 - Present

    at Panasonic Corporation, Panasonic Robotics Hub
    in Osaka, Japan

    Details
    • Working as a research advisor for successful participation in international robotics competitions.
    • Developing robotics solutions for novel human-robot interactions in service contexts.
    • Supervising Ritsumeikan University's research and development contributions to Team NAIST-RITS-Panasonic.
  4. Specially Appointed Researcher of HSR Community

    Apr. 2019 - Present

    at Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota HSR Community
    in Nagoya, Japan

    Details
    • Developing a containerized Software Development Environment (SDE) for the Toyota Human Support Robot (HSR).
    • Accelerating research integration within the Toyota HSR Community by deploying a common SDE across its 100+ members.
    • Formally invited by Toyota to lead the HSR Software Development Environment Working Group (SDE-WG).
  5. Moderator

    Oct. 2018 - Nov. 2018

    at German Centre for Research and Innovation Tokyo (DWIH Tokyo)
    in Tokyo, Japan

    Details
    • Chosen by DWIH Tokyo to moderate the First Japanese-German-French Symposium for International Research and Applications on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that took place on November 21-22, 2018, and boasted a prestigious audience of about 350 participants and 65 speakers.
    • Coordinated the guests on stage, moderated their discussions, and highlighted their inputs to foster new trilateral strategic collaborations on AI technology and policy to address future key challenges in academic research, business development, and state sovereignty.
    • Met with state representatives such as His Excellency Dr. Hans Carl von Werthern (Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Japan), His Excellency Mr. Laurent Pic (Ambassador of France to Japan), and His Excellency Mr. Takuya Hirai (Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy in Japan) to promote AI research activities.
  6. Senior Researcher

    Oct. 2017 - Sep. 2019

    at Ritsumeikan University, Ritsumeikan Global Innovation Research Organization (R-GIRO)
    in Kusatsu (Kyoto Area), Japan

    Details
    • Joint the International and Interdisciplinary Research Center for the Next-Generation Artificial Intelligence and Semiotics (AI+Semiotics) project.
    • Coordinated cross-laboratory efforts to participate in World Robot Summit (WRS) and RoboCup@Home international robotics competitions.
    • Developed unsupervised learning methods that enable robots to learn a variety of knowledge through daily human-robot interactions.
  7. Sales Engineer

    Sep. 2013 - Mar. 2014

    at intoPIX SA, Marketing & Sales Department (M&S)
    in Mont-Saint-Guibert (Brussels Area), Belgium

    Details
    • Met with business partners to introduce new product lines: TICO, JPEG 2000 GPU SDK.
    • Demonstrated intoPIX's products at multiple exhibitions across Europe and United States: IBC, ISE, VSF VidTrans.
    • Introduced intoPIX's newest technologies to industrial standardization committees such as SMPTE.
    • Contributed to commercial and technical documentation.
  8. Research Intern

    Sep. 2012 - Jun. 2013

    at intoPIX SA, Research & Development Department (R&D)
    in Louvain-la-Neuve (Brussels Area), Belgium

    Details
    • Carried out Master thesis research within a professional environment as an intern in R&D.
    • Explored the FPGA implementation of TICO compression, now JPEG XS, for Ultra HD 4K/8K video distribution.
    • Introduced to Scrum, an iterative and incremental agile framework for collaborative software development.
  9. System Administrator

    Jul. 2005 - Present

    at Les Mercredis du Multisport asbl
    in Louvain-la-Neuve (Brussels Area), Belgium

    Details
    • Automated daily administrative tasks to increase the overall productivity of the staff.
    • Set up an online presence that managed to increase the enrolment figures of participants.
    • Expanded the network infrastructure while performing maintenance on existing hardware.
    • Started as a student part-time job by managing groups of children during sports days.

Education

  1. Doctor of Engineering (DrEng), Robotics

    Oct. 2014 - Sep. 2017

    at Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Graduate School of Information Science (IS)
    in Ikoma (Osaka Area), Japan

    Details
    • Doctor thesis explored Simultaneous Tracking and Attention Recognition from Eyes (STARE), a novel eye-tracking approach that leveraged deep learning to extract behavioral information from scenes reflected in the eyes.
    • Published in results in international journals and conferences, and was awarded Best of IET and IBC 2016-2017.
    • Research sponsored by the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Scholarship Program.
    • Co-founded Team NAIST, now Team NAIST-RITS-Panasonic, and successfully participated in the Airbus Shopfloor Challenge (ASC) and the Amazon Robotics Challenge (ARC).
  2. Research Internship

    Apr. 2014 - Sep. 2014

    at Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Graduate School of Information Science (IS)
    in Ikoma (Osaka Area), Japan

    Details
    • Selected to conduct research on robotics in Japan through recommendation by the Japanese diplomatic mission in Belgium.
  3. Training in International Business & Management EXPLORT

    Sep. 2013 - Mar. 2014

    at Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency (AWEX), Centre de Compétence Management & Commerce
    in Charleroi (Brussels Area), Belgium

    Details
    • Intensive training in international business and management as a part-time trainee in a company.
    • Strict candidate selection process supervised by the AWEX regional public authority for foreign trade and investment.
    • Training put to practice with a mandatory mission abroad to represent the commercial interests of a Belgian company.
    • Stay in the United States to expand intoPIX's core market and product line outside Belgium.
  4. Master of Science in Electromechanical Engineering (MScEng), Professional Focus in Mechatronics: Cum Laude

    Sep. 2011 - Jun. 2013

    at Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), École polytechnique de Louvain (EPL)
    in Louvain-la-Neuve (Brussels Area), Belgium

    Details
    • Graduation from Master with Distinction (Cum Laude), last year with High Distinction (Magna Cum Laude).
    • Major in electromechanical science with a professional focus in mechatronics, robotics and hardware video processing.
    • Master thesis explored the FPGA implementation of TICO compression, now JPEG XS, in collaboration with intoPIX for Ultra HD 4K/8K video distribution.
    • Participated in the international robotics contest Eurobot 2012 as a member of Team Kraken and reached the quarterfinals of the Belgian national qualifications.
  5. Language Course, Japanese

    Sep. 2009 - Mar. 2014

    at Institut libre Marie Haps (ILMH)
    in Brussels, Belgium

  6. Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BScEng), Focus in Mechanics and Electricity

    Sep. 2007 - Sep. 2011

    at Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), École polytechnique de Louvain (EPL)
    in Louvain-la-Neuve (Brussels Area), Belgium

    Details
    • Introduced to a wide range of engineering disciplines with a major in mechanics science and a minor in electricity science.
    • Mandatory entrance examination in mathematics for all aspiring engineer as dictated by the Belgian law.
    • Followed a two-year introduction to Japanese language and culture as an extracurricular program.
  7. 7th Year of Preparation for Higher Education, Mathematics

    Sep. 2006 - Jun. 2007

    at Lycée Martin V
    in Louvain-la-Neuve (Brussels Area), Belgium

  8. General Secondary Education, Science

    Sep. 2000 - Jun. 2006

    at Athénée royal Paul Delvaux d'Ottignies (ARO), Antenne de Lauzelle
    in Louvain-la-Neuve (Brussels Area), Belgium

  9. Primary Education, Science

    Sep. 1994 - Jun. 2000

    at École communale de Blocry
    in Louvain-la-Neuve (Brussels Area), Belgium

Awards

  1. 1st Place, Restock & Disposal Task, Future Convenience Store Challenge Trial Competition 2019, World Robot Summit 2020

    Dec. 2019

    by World Robot Summit (WRS)
    in Tokyo, Japan

    Details

    Ranked 1st with Team NAIST-RITS-Panasonic in one of the three main tasks of the Future Convenience Store Challenge at the Trial Competition 2019 of World Robot Summit 2020.

  2. 2nd Place, Restroom Cleaning Task, Future Convenience Store Challenge Trial Competition 2019, World Robot Summit 2020

    Dec. 2019

    by World Robot Summit (WRS)
    in Tokyo, Japan

    Details

    Ranked 2nd with Team NAIST-RITS-Panasonic in one of the three main tasks of the Future Convenience Store Challenge at the Trial Competition 2019 of World Robot Summit 2020.

  3. Best Award for Forecasting Research Proposal, CREST Research Area Meeting 2019

    Oct. 2019

    by Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) with 3,000,000 JPY
    in Osaka, Japan

    Details

    Awarded with 3,000,000 JPY by JST for representing the Ambient Assisted Living Services Group in forecasting novel "Intelligent information processing systems creating co-experience knowledge and wisdom with human-machine harmonious collaboration".

  4. Best Award for Research Proposal Breaking Hagita-CREST Shell, CREST Research Area Meeting 2019

    Oct. 2019

    by Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) with 1,000,000 JPY
    in Osaka, Japan

    Details

    Awarded with 1,000,000 JPY by JST for proposing and developing novel "Intelligent information processing systems creating co-experience knowledge and wisdom with human-machine harmonious collaboration".

  5. NEDO Chairman's Award for Excellence in World Robot Summit, World Robot Summit 2018

    Oct. 2018

    by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)
    in Tokyo, Japan

    Details

    Awarded by the NEDO office for overall excellence in competition with Team NAIST-RITS-Panasonic during World Robot Summit 2018.

  6. SICE Award for Future Convenience Store Challenge, World Robot Summit 2018

    Oct. 2018

    by Society of Instrument and Control Engineers (SICE)
    in Tokyo, Japan

    Details

    Awarded by the SICE society for displaying advanced research integration with Team NAIST-RITS-Panasonic during World Robot Summit 2018.

  7. 1st Place, Customer Interaction Task, Future Convenience Store Challenge 2018, World Robot Summit 2018

    Oct. 2018

    by World Robot Summit (WRS) with 3,000,000 JPY
    in Tokyo, Japan

    Details

    Ranked 1st and awarded 3,000,000 JPY with Team NAIST-RITS-Panasonic in one of the three main tasks of the Future Convenience Store Challenge at the World Robot Summit 2018.

  8. Finalist Prize, Amazon Robotics Challenge 2017

    Jul. 2017

    by Amazon with 10,000 USD
    in Nagoya, Japan

    Details

    Ranked 6th and awarded 10,000 USD with Team NAIST-Panasonic in the finals of the 2017 Amazon Robotics Challenge (formerly Amazon Picking Challenge) among 16 top international teams and 27 entries worldwide.

  9. Best of IET and IBC 2016-2017

    Sep. 2016

    by Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) & International Broadcasting Convention (IBC)
    in Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Details

    Selected among more than 360 submissions to figure in the top 8 papers at 2016 International Broadcasting Convention (IBC 2016) for "Outstanding research in broadcasting and entertainment and very best professional excellence in media technology".

  10. 1st Place, Airbus Shopfloor Challenge 2016

    May 2016

    by Airbus Group with 20,000 EUR
    in Stockholm, Sweden

    Details

    Winner of the biggest robotics challenge held at 2016 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2016) with a cash prize of 20,000 EUR.

  11. Japan Tent Ambassador, Japan Tent 2014

    Aug. 2014

    by Japan Tent Steering Committee
    in Kanazawa, Japan

    Details

    Selected among 365 international students representing 102 countries gathering in Ishikawa Prefecture to foster friendly relations between Japan and my home country, Belgium.

Certifications

  1. Japanese Driving License, Category Ordinary Motorcycle

    Oct. 2019

    by Nara Prefecture
    in Nara, Japan

    Details

    Driving license delivered by the Japanese authorities for motorcycles with an engine displacement not exceeding 399 cc.

  2. Highly Skilled Professional (i)(a): Advanced Academic Research Activities

    Oct. 2017

    by Japan Ministry of Justice (MOJ)
    in Tokyo, Japan

    Details

    Received the residence status of Highly Skilled Professional in advanced academic research activities for being among "The quality, unsubstitutable human resources who have a complementary relationship with domestic capital and labor, and who are expected to bring innovation to the Japanese industries, to promote development of specialized/technical labor markets through friendly competition with Japanese people and to increase efficiency of the Japanese labor markets".

  3. Doctor of Engineering (DrEng), Robotics

    Sep. 2017

    by Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Graduate School of Information Science (IS)
    in Ikoma (Osaka Area), Japan

    Details

    Received the academic title of Doctor after 3 years of research and contribution to the state of the art at the Robotics Laboratory of the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST).

  4. Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT): N2

    Dec. 2016

    by Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES)
    in Nara, Japan

    Details

    The JLPT is a standardized criterion-referenced test administered by the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to evaluate and certify Japanese language proficiency for non-native speakers. The N2 level is the "The ability to understand Japanese used in everyday situations, and in a variety of circumstances to a certain degree".

  5. Japan Kanji Aptitude Test (Kanken): 9

    Oct. 2015

    by Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation
    in Nara, Japan

    Details

    The Kanken is a standard test aimed at Japanese native speakers that evaluates one's knowledge of kanji, and especially one's ability to write them without computing aid. The level 9 covers 240 kanji learned up to the second grade of elementary school.

  6. Japanese Driving License, Category Semi-Medium Vehicle

    Aug. 2014

    by Nara Prefecture
    in Nara, Japan

    Details

    Driving license delivered by the Japanese authorities for most common motor vehicles not exceeding 3.5 t.

  7. Test of English for International Communication, Institutional Program (TOEIC IP): 955/990

    Jun. 2014

    by Educational Testing Service (ETS)
    in Ikoma (Osaka Area), Japan

    Details

    The TOEIC IP is a standard test administered in Japan by the Institute for International Business Communication (IIBC) to measure the English reading and listening skills of people working in international environments. A score above 800 means an advanced command of the language.

  8. Training in International Business & Management EXPLORT

    Mar. 2014

    by Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency (AWEX)
    in Brussels, Belgium

    Details

    Certificate of successful completion of the EXPLORT Program in which top candidates selected by the AWEX are intensively trained in international business and management, and dispatched abroad for representing the commercial interests of a Belgian company.

  9. European Driving License, Category B

    Jan. 2014

    by Wavre City
    in Wavre (Brussels Area), Belgium

    Details

    Driving license delivered by the Belgian authorities and valid in all member states of the European Economic Area (EEA) for most common motor vehicles not exceeding 3.5 t.

  10. Test of English as a Foreign Language, Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT): 102/120

    Sep. 2013

    by Educational Testing Service (ETS)
    in Brussels, Belgium

    Details

    The TOEFL iBT test measures the ability to use and understand English at the university level by evaluating reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills in performing academic tasks. A score above 95 means an advanced command of the language.

  11. Ingénieur civil (Ir)

    Jun. 2013

    by Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), École polytechnique de Louvain (EPL)
    in Louvain-la-Neuve (Brussels Area), Belgium

    Details

    Legally protected title under the Belgian law applicable to the graduates of the 5-year engineering course of the top national universities.

  12. Master of Science in Electromechanical Engineering (MScEng), Professional Focus in Mechatronics: Cum Laude

    Jun. 2013

    by Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), École polytechnique de Louvain (EPL)
    in Louvain-la-Neuve (Brussels Area), Belgium

    Details

    Received the academic title of Master after 5 years of higher education in engineering at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain).

  13. Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BScEng), Focus in Mechanics and Electricity

    Sep. 2011

    by Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), École polytechnique de Louvain (EPL)
    in Louvain-la-Neuve (Brussels Area), Belgium

    Details

    Received the academic title of Bachelor after 3 years of higher education in engineering at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain).

Publications

  1. L. El Hafi, Y. Zheng, H. Shirouzu, T. Nakamura, and T. Taniguchi, "Serket-SDE: A Containerized Software Development Environment for the Symbol Emergence in Robotics Toolkit", in Proceedings of 2023 IEEE/SICE International Symposium on System Integration (SII 2023), Atlanta, United States, Jan. 17, 2023. [International conference article, peer-reviewed.][Under review.]

  2. S. Hasegawa, A. Taniguchi, Y. Hagiwara, L. El Hafi, and T. Taniguchi, "Inferring Place-Object Relationships by Integrating Probabilistic Logic and Multimodal Spatial Concepts", in Proceedings of 2023 IEEE/SICE International Symposium on System Integration (SII 2023), Atlanta, United States, Jan. 17, 2023. [International conference article, peer-reviewed.][Under review.]

  3. G. A. Garcia Ricardez, P. M. Uriguen Eljuri, Y. Kamemura, S. Yokota, N. Kugou, Y. Asama, Z. Wang, H. Kumamoto, K. Yoshimoto, W. Y. Chan, T. Nagatani, P. Tulathum, B. Usawalertkamol, L. El Hafi, H. Ikeuchi, M. Yamamoto, J. Takamatsu, T. Taniguchi, and T. Ogasawara, "Autonomous Service Robot for Human-aware Restock, Straightening and Disposal Tasks in Retail Automation", in RSJ Advanced Robotics (AR), 2022. DOI: 10.1080/01691864.2022.2109429 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    The workforce shortage in the service industry, recently highlighted by the pandemic, has increased the need for automation. We propose an autonomous robot to fulfill this purpose. Our mobile manipulator includes an extendable and compliant end effector design, as well as a custom-made automated shelf, and it is capable of manipulating food products such as lunch boxes, while traversing narrow spaces and reacting to human interventions. We benchmarked the solution in the international robotics competition Future Convenience Store Challenge (FCSC) where we obtained the first place in the 2020 edition, as well as in a laboratory setting, both situated in a convenience store scenario. We reported the results evaluated in terms of the score of the FCSC 2020 and further discussed the real-world applicability of the current system and open challenges.

  4. T. Wakayama, E. Fujiura, M. Yamaguchi, N. Yoshida, T. Inoue, H. Ikeuchi, M. Yamamoto, L. El Hafi, G. A. Garcia Ricardez, J. Takamatsu, T. Taniguchi, and T. Ogasawara, "Versatile Cleaning Service Robot based on a Mobile Manipulator with Tool Switching for Liquids and Garbage Removal in Restrooms", in RSJ Advanced Robotics (AR), 2022. DOI: 10.1080/01691864.2022.2109430 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    In recent years, the labor shortage has become a significant problem in Japan and other countries due to aging societies. However, service robots can play a decisive role in relieving human workers by performing various household and assistive tasks. Restroom cleaning is one of such challenging tasks that involve performing motion planning in a constrained restroom setting. In this study, we propose a mobile manipulator to perform various tasks related to restroom cleaning. Our key contributions include system integration of multiple tools on an arm with high DoF mounted on a mobile, omni-directional platform capable of versatile service cleaning and with extended reachability. We evaluate the performance of our system with the competition setting used for the restroom cleaning task of the Future Convenience Store Challenge at the World Robot Summit 2020, where we obtained the 1st Place. The proposed system successfully completed all the competition tasks within the time limit and could remove the liquid with a removal rate of 96%. The proposed system could also dispose of most garbage and got an average garbage disposal rate of 90%. Further experiments confirmed the scores obtained in the competition with an even higher liquid removal rate of 98%.

  5. H. Nakamura, L. El Hafi*, A. Taniguchi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "Multimodal Object Categorization with Reduced User Load through Human-Robot Interaction in Mixed Reality", in Proceedings of 2022 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2022), Kyoto, Japan, Oct. 23, 2022. [International conference article, peer-reviewed.][*Corresponding author.][Under review.]

    Abstract

    Enabling robots to learn from interactions with users is essential to perform service tasks. However, as a robot categorizes objects from multimodal information obtained by its sensors during interactive onsite teaching, the inferred names of unknown objects do not always match the human user's expectation, especially when the robot is introduced to new environments. Confirming the learning results through natural speech interaction with the robot often puts an additional burden on the user who can only listen to the robot to validate the results. Therefore, we propose a human-robot interface to reduce the burden on the user by visualizing the inferred results in mixed reality~(MR). In particular, we evaluate the proposed interface on the system usability scale~(SUS) and the NASA task load index~(NASA-TLX) with three experimental object categorization scenarios based on multimodal latent Dirichlet allocation~(MLDA) in which the robot: 1) does not share the inferred results to the user at all, 2) shares the inferred results through speech interaction with the user (baseline), and 3) shares the inferred results with the user through an MR interface (proposed). We show that providing feedback through an MR interface significantly reduces the temporal, physical, and mental burden on the human user compared to speech interaction with the robot.

  6. G. A. Garcia Ricardez, L. El Hafi, H. Ikeuchi, M. Yamamoto, J. Takamatsu, T. Taniguchi, and T. Ogasawara, "Team NAIST-RITS-Panasonic at the Future Convenience Store Challenge: Our Approach from 2018 to 2021", in Journal of the Society of Instrument and Control Engineers (SICE), Special Issue on WRS Future Convenience Store Challenge, vol. 61, no. 6, pp. 422-425, Jun. 10, 2022. DOI: 10.11499/sicejl.61.422 [Domestic journal article, non-peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    The paper describes the system development approach followed by researchers and engineers of the team NAIST-RITS-Panasonic (Japan) for their participation in the Future Convenience Store Challenge 2018, 2019 trials and 2020 (held in 2021). This international competition is about the development of robotic capabilities to execute complex tasks for retail automation. The team built four different robots with multiple end effectors, as well as different technologies for mobile manipulation, vision, and HRI. The diversity of the tasks and the competitiveness of the challenge allowed us to template our philosophy and to delineate our path to innovation.

  7. L. El Hafi, G. A. Garcia Ricardez, F. von Drigalski, Y. Inoue, M. Yamamoto, and T. Yamamoto, "Software Development Environment for Collaborative Research Workflow in Robotic System Integration", in RSJ Advanced Robotics (AR), Special Issue on Software Framework for Robot System Integration, vol. 36, no. 11, pp. 533-547, Jun. 3, 2022. DOI: 10.1080/01691864.2022.2068353 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    Today's robotics involves a large range of knowledge and skills across many disciplines. This issue has recently come to light as robotics competitions attract more talented teams to tackle unsolved problems. Although the tasks are challenging, the preparation cycles are usually short. The teams involved, ranging from academic institutions to small startups and large companies, need to develop and deploy their solutions with agility. Therefore, this paper introduces a containerized Software Development Environment (SDE) based on a collaborative workflow relying on open-source technologies for robotic system integration and deployment. The proposed SDE enables the collaborators to focus on their individual expertise and rely on automated tests and unattended simulations. The analysis of the adoption of the proposed SDE shows that several research institutions successfully deployed it in multiple international competitions with various robotic platforms.

  8. A. Taniguchi, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "記号創発ロボティクスにおける場所概念の形成と応用 (Spatial Concept Formation for Symbol Emergence in Robotics and its Application)", in ISCIE会誌 「システム/制御/情報」, 2022. [Domestic journal article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

  9. S. Hasegawa, Y. Hagiwara, A. Taniguchi, L. El Hafi, and T. Taniguchi, "確率論理と場所概念を結合したモデルによる場所の学習コストの削減 (Reducing the Cost of Learning Places via a Model that Integrates Probabilistic Logic and Spatial Concept)", in Proceedings of 2022 Annual Conference of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence (JSAI 2022), Kyoto, Japan, Jun. 14, 2022. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

    Abstract

    We propose a method that integrates probabilistic logic and spatial concept to enable a robot to acquire knowledge of the relationships between objects and places in a new environment with a few learning times. By combining logical inference with prior knowledge and cross-modal inference within spatial concept, the robot can infer the place of an object even when the probability of its existence is a priori unknown. We conducted experiments in which a robot searched for objects in a simulation environment using four methods: 1) spatial concept only, 2) prior knowledge only, 3) spatial concept and prior knowledge, and 4) probabilistic logic and spatial concept (proposed). We confirmed the effectiveness of the proposed method by comparing the number of place visits it took for the robot to find all the objects. We observed that the robot could find the objects faster using the proposed method.

  10. T. Wakayama, E. Fujiura, M. Yamaguchi, M. Yamamoto, H. Ikeuchi, G. A. Garcia Ricardez, and L. El Hafi, "掃除ツール取り換え機能を有する多種類ゴミ廃棄可能なトイレ清掃ロボットの開発 World Robot Summit 2020 Future Convenience Store Challengeを活用した実用システム開発の試み (Development of the Restroom Cleaning Robot that Can Dispose of Various Types of Garbage with a Cleaning Tool Change Function: Attempt to Develop a Practical System utilizing World Robot Summit 2020 Future Convenience Store Challenge)", in Proceedings of 2022 JSME Conference on Robotics and Mechatronics (ROBOMECH 2022), Sapporo, Japan, Jun. 1, 2022. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

    Abstract

    We have developed a ROS-based mobile manipulator-type restroom cleaning robot that has a high recognition function for various types of garbages and a function for changing cleaning tools and has achieved highly efficient cleaning. As a result, we won the World Robot Summit 2020 Future Convenience Store Challenge Restroom Cleaning Task and got an almost perfect score.

  11. Y. Katsumata, A. Kanechika, A. Taniguchi, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "Map Completion from Partial Observation using the Global Structure of Multiple Environmental Maps", in RSJ Advanced Robotics (AR), Special Issue on Symbol Emergence in Robotics and Cognitive Systems (II), vol. 36, no. 5-6, pp. 279-290, Mar. 19, 2022. DOI: 10.1080/01691864.2022.2029762 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    Using the spatial structure of various indoor environments as prior knowledge, the robot would construct the map more efficiently. Autonomous mobile robots generally apply simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) methods to understand the reachable area in newly visited environments. However, conventional mapping approaches are limited by only considering sensor observation and control signals to estimate the current environment map. This paper proposes a novel SLAM method, map completion network-based SLAM (MCN-SLAM), based on a probabilistic generative model incorporating deep neural networks for map completion. These map completion networks are primarily trained in the framework of generative adversarial networks (GANs) to extract the global structure of large amounts of existing map data. We show in experiments that the proposed method can estimate the environment map 1.3 times better than the previous SLAM methods in the situation of partial observation.

  12. T. Fukumori, C. Cai, Y. Zhang, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, T. Nishiura, and T. Taniguchi, "Optical Laser Microphone for Human-Robot Interaction: Speech Recognition in Extremely Noisy Service Environments", in RSJ Advanced Robotics (AR), Special Issue on Symbol Emergence in Robotics and Cognitive Systems (II), vol. 36, no. 5-6, pp. 304-317, Mar. 19, 2022. DOI: 10.1080/01691864.2021.2023629 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    Domestic robots are often required to understand spoken commands in noisy environments, including service appliances' operating sounds. Most conventional domestic robots use electret condenser microphones (ECMs) to record the sound. However, the ECMs are known to be sensitive to the noise in the direction of sound arrival. The laser Doppler vibrometer (LDV), which has been widely used in the research field of measurement, has the potential to work as a new speech-input device to solve this problem. The aim of this paper is to investigate the effectiveness of using the LDV as an optical laser microphone for human-robot interaction in extremely noisy service environments. Our robot irradiates an object near a speaker with a laser and measures the vibration of the object to record the sound. We conducted three experiments to assess the performance of speech recognition using the optical laser microphone in various settings and showed stable performance in extremely noisy conditions compared with a conventional ECM.

  13. J. Wang, L. El Hafi*, A. Taniguchi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "Extending HoloGAN by Embedding Image Content into Latent Vectors for Novel View Synthesis", in Proceedings of 2022 IEEE/SICE International Symposium on System Integration (SII 2022), pp. 383-389, Narvik, Norway (Virtual), Jan. 9, 2022. DOI: 10.1109/SII52469.2022.9708823 [International conference article, peer-reviewed.][*Corresponding author.]

    Abstract

    This study aims to further develop the task of novel view synthesis by generative adversarial networks (GAN). The goal of novel view synthesis is to, given one or more input images, synthesize images of the same target content but from different viewpoints. Previous research showed that the unsupervised learning model HoloGAN achieved high performance in generating images from different viewpoints. However, HoloGAN is less capable of specifying the target content to generate and is difficult to train due to high data requirements. Therefore, this study proposes two approaches to improve the current limitations of HoloGAN and make it suitable for the task of novel view synthesis. The first approach reuses the encoder network of HoloGAN to get the corresponding latent vectors of the image contents to specify the target content of the generated images. The second approach introduces an auto-encoder architecture to HoloGAN so that more viewpoints can be generated correctly. The experiment results indicate that the first approach is efficient in specifying a target content. Meanwhile, the second approach method helps HoloGAN to learn a richer range of viewpoints but is not compatible with the first approach. The combination of these two approaches and their application to service robotics are discussed in conclusion.

  14. A. S. Rathore, L. El Hafi*, G. A. Garcia Ricardez, and T. Taniguchi, "Human Action Categorization System using Body Pose Estimation for Multimodal Observations from Single Camera", in Proceedings of 2022 IEEE/SICE International Symposium on System Integration (SII 2022), pp. 914-920, Narvik, Norway (Virtual), Jan. 9, 2022. DOI: 10.1109/SII52469.2022.9708816 [International conference article, peer-reviewed.][*Corresponding author.]

    Abstract

    We propose a system using a multimodal probabilistic approach to solve the human action recognition challenge. This is achieved by extracting the human pose from an ongoing activity from a single camera. This pose is used to capture additional body information using generalized features such as location, time, distances, and angles. A probabilistic model, multimodal latent Dirichlet allocation (MLDA), which uses this multimodal information, is then used to recognize actions through topic modeling. We also investigate the influence of each modality and their combinations to recognize human actions from multimodal observations. The experiments show that the proposed generalized features captured significant information that enabled the classification of various daily activities without requiring prior labeled data.

  15. P. M. Uriguen Eljuri, L. El Hafi, G. A. Garcia Ricardez, A. Taniguchi, and T. Taniguchi, "Neural Network-based Motion Feasibility Checker to Validate Instructions in Rearrangement Tasks before Execution by Robots", in Proceedings of 2022 IEEE/SICE International Symposium on System Integration (SII 2022), pp. 1058-1063, Narvik, Norway (Virtual), Jan. 9, 2022. DOI: 10.1109/SII52469.2022.9708602 [International conference article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    In this paper, we address the task of rearranging items with a robot. A rearrangement task is challenging because it requires us to solve the following issues: determine how to pick the items and plan how and where to place the items. In our previous work, we proposed to solve a rearrangement task by combining the symbolic and motion planners using a Motion Feasibility Checker (MFC) and a Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS). The MCTS searches for the goal while it collaborates with the MFC to accept or reject instructions. We could solve the rearrangement task, but one drawback is the time it takes to find a solution. In this study, we focus on quickly accepting or rejecting tentative instructions obtained from an MCTS. We propose using a Neural Network-based Motion Feasibility Checker (NN-MFC), a Fully Connected Neural Network trained with data obtained from the MFC. This NN-MFC quickly decides if the instruction is valid or not, reducing the time the MCTS uses to find a solution to the task. The NN-MFC determines the validity of the instruction based on the initial and target poses of the item. Before the final execution of the instructions, we re-validate the instructions with the MFC as a confirmation before execution. We tested the proposed method in a simulation environment by doing an item rearrangement task in a convenience store setup.

  16. T. Wakayama, G. A. Garcia Ricardez, L. El Hafi, and J. Takamatsu, "6D-Pose Estimation for Manipulation in Retail Robotics using the Inference-embedded OAK-D Camera", in Proceedings of 2022 IEEE/SICE International Symposium on System Integration (SII 2022), pp. 1046-1051, Narvik, Norway (Virtual), Jan. 9, 2022. DOI: 10.1109/SII52469.2022.9708910 [International conference article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    The socio-economic need for service robots has become more evident during the ongoing pandemic. To boost their deployment, robots need to improve their manipulation capabilities, which includes solving one of the biggest challenges: determine the position and orientation of the target objects. While conventional approaches use markers which require constant maintenance, deep-learning-based approaches require a host computer with high specifications. In this paper, we propose a 6D-pose estimation system whose segmentation algorithm is embedded into OAK-D, a camera capable of running neural networks on-board, which reduces the host requirements. Furthermore, we propose a point cloud selection method to increase the accuracy of the 6D-pose estimation. We test our solution in a convenience store setup where we mount the OAK-D camera on a mobile robot developed for straightening and disposing of items, and whose manipulation success depends on 6D-pose estimation. We evaluate the accuracy of our solution by comparing the estimated 6D-pose of eight items to the ground truth. Finally, we discuss technical challenges faced during the integration of the proposed solution into a fully autonomous robot.

  17. P. M. Uriguen Eljuri, Y. Toramatsu, L. El Hafi, G. A. Garcia Ricardez, A. Taniguchi, and T. Taniguchi, "物体の再配置タスクにおける動作実行可能性判定器のニューラルネットワークを用いた高速化 (Neural Network Acceleration of Motion Feasibility for Object Arrangement Task)", in Proceedings of 2021 SICE System Integration Division Annual Conference (SI 2021), pp. 3422-3425, (Virtual), Dec. 15, 2021. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

    Abstract

    We focus on the task of arranging objects using a robot. In our previous work, we proposed to use a Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) and a Motion Feasibility Checker (MFC) to solve the task. However, the problem with the existing method is that is time-consuming. In this paper, we propose to use a Neural Network-based MFC (NN-MFC). This NN-MFC can quickly determine the motion feasibility of the robot and reduce the time used by the MCTS to find a solution. We tested the proposed method in a simulation environment by doing an item rearrangement task in a convenience store setup.

  18. S. Hasegawa, A. Taniguchi, Y. Hagiwara, L. El Hafi, T. Nakashima, and T. Taniguchi, "確率論理と場所概念モデルの結合による確率的プランニング", in Proceedings of 2021 Annual Conference of the Robotics Society of Japan (RSJ 2021), ref. RSJ2021AC2H2-01, pp. 1-4, (Virtual), Sep. 8, 2021. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

  19. T. Nakashima, A. Taniguchi, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "場所概念獲得がLoop Closure性能に及ぼす影響評価", in Proceedings of 2021 Annual Conference of the Robotics Society of Japan (RSJ 2021), ref. RSJ2021AC1I4-06, pp. 1-3, (Virtual), Sep. 8, 2021. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

  20. A. Kanechika, L. El Hafi, A. Taniguchi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "自然な発話文教示に基づく弱教師あり物体領域分割の検証", in Proceedings of 2021 Annual Conference of the Robotics Society of Japan (RSJ 2021), ref. RSJ2021AC1I2-02, pp. 1-4, (Virtual), Sep. 8, 2021. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

  21. T. Taniguchi, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, A. Taniguchi, N. Shimada, and T. Nishiura, "The Necessity of Semiotically Adaptive Cognition for Realizing Remotely-Operated Service Robots in the New Normal Society", in Proceedings of 2021 IEEE International Conference on Advanced Robotics and its Social Impacts (ARSO 2021), pp. 266-267, Tokoname, Japan (Virtual), Jul. 8, 2021. [International conference article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    In this study, we argue that the development of semiotically adaptive cognition is indispensable for realizing remotely-operated service robots to enhance the quality of the new normal society. To enable a wide range of people to work from home in a pandemic like the current COVID-19 situation, the installation of remotely-operated service robots into the work environment is crucial. However, it is evident that remotely-operated robots must have partial autonomy. The capability of learning local semiotic knowledge for improving autonomous decision making and language understanding is crucial to reduce the workload of people working from home. To achieve this goal, we refer to three challenges: the learning of local semiotic knowledge from daily human activities, the acceleration of local knowledge learning with transfer learning and active exploration, and the augmentation of human-robot interactions.

  22. T. Taniguchi, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, A. Taniguchi, N. Shimada, and T. Nishiura, "Semiotically Adaptive Cognition: Toward the Realization of Remotely-Operated Service Robots for the New Normal Symbiotic Society", in RSJ Advanced Robotics (AR), Extra Special Issue on Soft/Social/Systemic (3S) Robot Technologies for Enhancing Quality of New Normal (QoNN), vol. 35, no. 11, pp. 664-674, Jun. 3, 2021. DOI: 10.1080/01691864.2021.1928552 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    The installation of remotely-operated service robots in the environments of our daily life (including offices, homes, and hospitals) can improve work-from-home policies and enhance the quality of the so-called new normal. However, it is evident that remotely-operated robots must have partial autonomy and the capability to learn and use local semiotic knowledge. In this paper, we argue that the development of semiotically adaptive cognitive systems is key to the installation of service robotics technologies in our service environments. To achieve this goal, we describe three challenges: the learning of local knowledge, the acceleration of onsite and online learning, and the augmentation of human-robot interactions.

  23. A. Taniguchi, S. Isobe, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "Autonomous Planning Based on Spatial Concepts to Tidy Up Home Environments with Service Robots", in RSJ Advanced Robotics (AR), vol. 35, no. 8, pp. 471-489, Apr. 18, 2021. DOI: 10.1080/01691864.2021.1890212 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    Tidy-up tasks by service robots in home environments are challenging in robotics applications because they involve various interactions with the environment. In particular, robots are required not only to grasp, move, and release various home objects but also to plan the order and positions for placing the objects. In this paper, we propose a novel planning method that can efficiently estimate the order and positions of the objects to be tidied up by learning the parameters of a probabilistic generative model. The model allows a robot to learn the distributions of the co-occurrence probability of the objects and places to tidy up using the multimodal sensor information collected in a tidied environment. Additionally, we develop an autonomous robotic system to perform the tidy-up operation. We evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed method by an experimental simulation that reproduces the conditions of the Tidy Up Here task of the World Robot Summit 2018 international robotics competition. The simulation results show that the proposed method enables the robot to successively tidy up several objects and achieves the best task score among the considered baseline tidy-up methods.

  24. L. El Hafi, H. Nakamura, A. Taniguchi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "Teaching System for Multimodal Object Categorization by Human-Robot Interaction in Mixed Reality", in Proceedings of 2021 IEEE/SICE International Symposium on System Integration (SII 2021), pp. 320-324, Iwaki, Japan (Virtual), Jan. 11, 2021. DOI: 10.1109/IEEECONF49454.2021.9382607 [International conference article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    As service robots are becoming essential to support aging societies, teaching them how to perform general service tasks is still a major challenge preventing their deployment in daily-life environments. In addition, developing an artificial intelligence for general service tasks requires bottom-up, unsupervised approaches to let the robots learn from their own observations and interactions with the users. However, compared to the top-down, supervised approaches such as deep learning where the extent of the learning is directly related to the amount and variety of the pre-existing data provided to the robots, and thus relatively easy to understand from a human perspective, the learning status in bottom-up approaches is by their nature much harder to appreciate and visualize. To address these issues, we propose a teaching system for multimodal object categorization by human-robot interaction through Mixed Reality (MR) visualization. In particular, our proposed system enables a user to monitor and intervene in the robot's object categorization process based on Multimodal Latent Dirichlet Allocation (MLDA) to solve unexpected results and accelerate the learning. Our contribution is twofold by 1) describing the integration of a service robot, MR interactions, and MLDA object categorization in a unified system, and 2) proposing an MR user interface to teach robots through intuitive visualization and interactions.

  25. K. Hayashi, W. Zheng, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "Bidirectional Generation of Object Images and Positions using Deep Generative Models for Service Robotics Applications", in Proceedings of 2021 IEEE/SICE International Symposium on System Integration (SII 2021), pp. 325-329, Iwaki, Japan (Virtual), Jan. 11, 2021. DOI: 10.1109/IEEECONF49454.2021.9382768 [International conference article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    The introduction of systems and robots for automated services is important for reducing running costs and improving operational efficiency in the retail industry. To this aim, we develop a system that enables robot agents to display products in stores. The main problem in automating product display using common supervised methods with robot agents is the huge amount of data required to recognize product categories and arrangements in a variety of different store layouts. To solve this problem, we propose a crossmodal inference system based on joint multimodal variational autoencoder (JMVAE) that learns the relationship between object image information and location information observed on site by robot agents. In our experiments, we created a simulation environment replicating a convenience store that allows a robot agent to observe an object image and its 3D coordinate information, and confirmed whether JMVAE can learn and generate a shared representation of an object image and 3D coordinates in a bidirectional manner.

  26. Y. Katsumata, A. Taniguchi, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "SpCoMapGAN: Spatial Concept Formation-based Semantic Mapping with Generative Adversarial Networks", in Proceedings of 2020 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2020), pp. 7927-7934, Las Vegas, United States (Virtual), Oct. 24, 2020. DOI: 10.1109/IROS45743.2020.9341456 [International conference article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    In semantic mapping, which connects semantic information to an environment map, it is a challenging task for robots to deal with both local and global information of environments. In addition, it is important to estimate semantic information of unobserved areas from already acquired partial observations in a newly visited environment. On the other hand, previous studies on spatial concept formation enabled a robot to relate multiple words to places from bottom-up observations even when the vocabulary was not provided beforehand. However, the robot could not transfer global information related to the room arrangement between semantic maps from other environments. In this paper, we propose SpCoMapGAN, which generates the semantic map in a newly visited environment by training an inference model using previously estimated semantic maps. SpCoMapGAN uses generative adversarial networks (GANs) to transfer semantic information based on room arrangements to a newly visited environment. Our proposed method assigns semantics to the map of an unknown environment using the prior distribution of the map trained in known environments and the multimodal observations made in the unknown environment. We experimentally show in simulation that SpCoMapGAN can use global information for estimating the semantic map and is superior to previous methods. Finally, we also demonstrate in a real environment that SpCoMapGAN can accurately 1) deal with local information, and 2) acquire the semantic information of real places.

  27. L. El Hafi and T. Yamamoto, "Toward the Public Release of a Software Development Environment for Human Support Robots", in Proceedings of 2020 Annual Conference of the Robotics Society of Japan (RSJ 2020), ref. RSJ2020AC3E1-01, pp. 1-2, (Virtual), Oct. 9, 2020. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    This paper describes the latest developments of the ongoing effort to bring a shared Software Development Environment (SDE) to the Toyota Human Support Robot (HSR) Community to collaborate on large robotics projects. The SDE described in this paper is developed and maintained by the HSR Software Development Environment Working Group (SDE-WG) officially endorsed by Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC). The source code and documentation for deployment are available to all HSR Community members upon request at: https://gitlab.com/hsr-sde-wg/HSR.

  28. Y. Katsumata, A. Kanechika, A. Taniguchi, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "深層生成モデルを用いた地図補完とSLAMの統合", in Proceedings of 2020 Annual Conference of the Robotics Society of Japan (RSJ 2020), ref. RSJ2020AC2C1-01, pp. 1-4, (Virtual), Oct. 9, 2020. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

  29. H. Nakamura, L. El Hafi, A. Taniguchi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "拡張現実を用いたロボットの物体カテゴリ分類教示システムの提案", in Proceedings of 2020 Annual Conference of the Robotics Society of Japan (RSJ 2020), ref. RSJ2020AC2E3-02, pp. 1-4, (Virtual), Oct. 9, 2020. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

  30. A. Taniguchi, Y. Tabuchi, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "環境の能動的な探索による効率的な場所概念の形成 (Efficient Spatial Concept Formation by Active Exploration of the Environment)", in Proceedings of 2020 Annual Conference of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence (JSAI 2020), ref. 2M4-OS-3a-05, pp. 1-4, Kumamoto, Japan (Virtual), Jun. 9, 2020. DOI: 10.11517/pjsai.JSAI2020.0_2M4OS3a05 [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

    Abstract

    Autonomous service robots are required to adaptively learn the categories and names of various places through the exploration of the surrounding environment and interactions with users. In this study, we aim to realize the efficient learning of spatial concepts by autonomous active exploration with a mobile robot. Therefore, we propose an active learning algorithm that combines sequential Bayesian inference by a particle filter and position determination based on information-gain in probabilistic generative models. Our experiment shows that the proposed method can efficiently determine the position to form spatial concepts in simulated home environments.

  31. Y. Katsumata, A. Taniguchi, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "Generative Adversarial Networksと場所概念形成の確率モデルの融合に基づくSemantic Mapping (Probabilistic Model of Spatial Concepts Integrating Generative Adversarial Networks for Semantic Mapping)", in Proceedings of 2020 Annual Conference of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence (JSAI 2020), ref. 2M6-GS-13-01, pp. 1-4, Kumamoto, Japan (Virtual), Jun. 9, 2020. DOI: 10.11517/pjsai.JSAI2020.0_2M6GS1301 [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

    Abstract

    This paper proposes SpCoMapGAN, a method to generate the semantic map in a newly visited environment by training an inference model using previously estimated semantic maps. SpCoMapGAN uses generative adversarial networks (GANs) to transfer semantic information based on room arrangements to the newly visited environment. We experimentally show in simulation that SpCoMapGAN can use global information for estimating the semantic map and is superior to previous related methods.

  32. G. A. Garcia Ricardez*, L. El Hafi*, and F. von Drigalski*, "Standing on Giant's Shoulders: Newcomer's Experience from the Amazon Robotics Challenge 2017", in Book chapter, Advances on Robotic Item Picking: Applications in Warehousing & E-Commerce Fulfillment, pp. 87-100, May 9, 2020. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-35679-8_8 [Book chapter.][*Authors contributed equally.]

    Abstract

    International competitions have fostered innovation in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotic manipulation, and computer vision, and incited teams to push the state of the art. In this chapter, we present the approach, design philosophy and development strategy that we followed during our participation in the Amazon Robotics Challenge 2017, a competition focused on warehouse automation. After introducing our solution, we detail the development of two of its key features: the suction tool and storage system. A systematic analysis of the suction force and details of the end effector features, such as suction force control, grasping, and collision detection, are also presented. Finally, this chapter reflects on the lessons we learned from our participation in the competition, which we believe are valuable to future robot challenge participants, as well as warehouse automation system designers.

  33. G. A. Garcia Ricardez, S. Okada, N. Koganti, A. Yasuda, P. M. Uriguen Eljuri, T. Sano, P.-C. Yang, L. El Hafi, M. Yamamoto, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "Restock and Straightening System for Retail Automation using Compliant and Mobile Manipulation", in RSJ Advanced Robotics (AR), Special Issue on Service Robot Technology: Selected Papers from WRS 2018, vol. 34, no. 3-4, pp. 235-249, Feb. 16, 2020. DOI: 10.1080/01691864.2019.1698460 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    As the retail industry keeps expanding and shortage of workers increasing, there is a need for autonomous manipulation of products to support retail operations. The increasing amount of products and customers in establishments such as convenience stores requires the automation of restocking, disposing and straightening of products. The manipulation of products needs to be time-efficient, avoid damaging products and beautify the display of products. In this paper, we propose a robotic system to restock shelves, dispose expired products, and straighten products in retail environments. The proposed mobile manipulator features a custom-made end effector with compact and compliant design to safely and effectively manipulate products in retail stores. Through experiments in a convenience store scenario, we verify the effectiveness of our system to restock, dispose and rearrange items.

  34. G. A. Garcia Ricardez, N. Koganti, P.-C. Yang, S. Okada, P. M. Uriguen Eljuri, A. Yasuda, L. El Hafi, M. Yamamoto, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "Adaptive Motion Generation using Imitation Learning and Highly-Compliant End Effector for Autonomous Cleaning", in RSJ Advanced Robotics (AR), Special Issue on Service Robot Technology: Selected Papers from WRS 2018, vol. 34, no. 3-4, pp. 189-201, Feb. 16, 2020. DOI: 10.1080/01691864.2019.1698461 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    Recent demographic trends in super aging societies, such as Japan, is leading to severe worker shortage. Service robots can play a promising role to augment human workers for performing various household and assistive tasks. Toilet cleanup is one such challenging task that involves performing complaint motion planning in a constrained toilet setting. In this study, we propose an end-to-end robotic framework to perform various tasks related to toilet cleanup. Our key contributions include the design of a complaint and multipurpose end-effector, an adaptive motion generation algorithm, and an autonomous mobile manipulator capable of garbage detection, garbage disposal and liquid removal. We evaluate the performance of our framework with the competition setting used for toilet cleanup in the Future Convenience Store Challenge at the World Robot Summit 2018. We demonstrate that our proposed framework is capable of successfully completing all the tasks of the competition within the time limit.

  35. L. El Hafi, S. Isobe, Y. Tabuchi, Y. Katsumata, H. Nakamura, T. Fukui, T. Matsuo, G. A. Garcia Ricardez, M. Yamamoto, A. Taniguchi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "System for Augmented Human-Robot Interaction through Mixed Reality and Robot Training by Non-Experts in Customer Service Environments", in RSJ Advanced Robotics (AR), Special Issue on Service Robot Technology: Selected Papers from WRS 2018, vol. 34, no. 3-4, pp. 157-172, Feb. 16, 2020. DOI: 10.1080/01691864.2019.1694068 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    Human-robot interaction during general service tasks in home or retail environment has been proven challenging, partly because (1) robots lack high-level context-based cognition and (2) humans cannot intuit the perception state of robots as they can for other humans. To solve these two problems, we present a complete robot system that has been given the highest evaluation score at the Customer Interaction Task of the Future Convenience Store Challenge at the World Robot Summit 2018, which implements several key technologies: (1) a hierarchical spatial concepts formation for general robot task planning and (2) a mixed reality interface to enable users to intuitively visualize the current state of the robot perception and naturally interact with it. The results obtained during the competition indicate that the proposed system allows both non-expert operators and end users to achieve human-robot interactions in customer service environments. Furthermore, we describe a detailed scenario including employee operation and customer interaction which serves as a set of requirements for service robots and a road map for development. The system integration and task scenario described in this paper should be helpful for groups facing customer interaction challenges and looking for a successfully deployed base to build on.

  36. Y. Katsumata, L. El Hafi, A. Taniguchi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "Integrating Simultaneous Localization and Mapping with Map Completion using Generative Adversarial Networks", in Proceedings of 2019 IEEE/RSJ IROS Workshop on Deep Probabilistic Generative Models for Cognitive Architecture in Robotics (DPGM-CAR 2019), Macau, China, Nov. 8, 2019. [International conference article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    When autonomous robots perform tasks which include moving in daily human environments, they need to generate environment maps. In this research, we propose a simultaneous localization and mapping method which integrates the prior probability distribution of the map completion trained by a generative model architecture. The contribution of this research is that the method can estimate the environment map efficiently from pre-training in other environments. We show with an experiment that the proposed method performs better than other classic methods to estimate environment maps by observation without moving in a simulator.

  37. L. El Hafi, S. Matsuzaki, S. Itadera, and T. Yamamoto, "Deployment of a Containerized Software Development Environment for Human Support Robots", in Proceedings of 2019 Annual Conference of the Robotics Society of Japan (RSJ 2019), ref. RSJ2019AC3K1-03, pp. 1-2, Tokyo, Japan, Sep. 3, 2019. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    This paper introduces a containerized Software Development Environment (SDE) for the Toyota Human Support Robot (HSR) to collaborate on large robotics projects. The objective is twofold: 1) enable interdisciplinary teams to quickly start research and development with the HSR by sharing a containerized SDE, and 2) accelerate research implementation and integration within the Toyota HSR Community by deploying a common SDE across its members. The SDE described in this paper is developed and maintained by the HSR Software Development Environment Working Group (SDE-WG) following a solution originally proposed by Ritsumeikan University and endorsed by Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC). The source code and documentation required to deploy the SDE are available to all HSR Community members upon request at: https://gitlab.com/hsr-sde-wg/HSR.

  38. H. Nakamura, L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "複合現実によるロボットの空間認識可視化のためのSemantic-ICPを用いたキャリブレーション (Calibration System using Semantic-ICP for Visualization of Robot Spatial Perception through Mixed Reality)", in Proceedings of 2019 Annual Conference of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence (JSAI 2019), ref. 1L3-J-11-02, pp. 1-4, Niigata, Japan, Jun. 4, 2019. DOI: 10.11517/pjsai.JSAI2019.0_1L3J1102 [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

    Abstract

    To achieve symbiosis between humans and robots, it is important to know what the robots recognize in their environment. Such information can be displayed using a Mixed Reality (MR) head-mounted device to provide an intuitive understanding of a robot perception. However, a robust calibration system is required because the robot and head-mounted MR device have different coordinate systems. In this paper, we develop a semantic-based calibration system for human-robot interactions in MR using Semantic-ICP. We show that the calibration system using Semantic-ICP is better than using GICP SE(3) when the accuracy of the semantic labels is high.

  39. L. El Hafi, Y. Hagiwara, and T. Taniguchi, "Abstraction-Rich Workflow for Agile Collaborative Development and Deployment of Robotic Solutions", in Proceedings of 2018 Annual Conference of the Robotics Society of Japan (RSJ 2018), ref. RSJ2018AC3D3-02, pp. 1-3, Kasugai, Japan, Sep. 5, 2018. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    This paper introduces a collaborative workflow for development and deployment of robotic solutions. The main contribution lies in the introduction of multiple layers of abstraction between the different components and processes. These layers enable the collaborators to focus on their individual expertise and rely on automated tests and simulations from the system. The ultimate goal is to help interdisciplinary teams to work together efficiently on robotics projects.

  40. J. Takamatsu, L. El Hafi, K. Takemura, and T. Ogasawara, "角膜反射画像を用いた視線追跡と物体認識 (Gaze Estimation and Object Recognition using Corneal Images)", in Proceedings of 149th MOC/JSAP Microoptics Meeting on Recognition and Authentication, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 13-18, Tokyo, Japan, Sep. 5, 2018. [Domestic workshop article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

    Abstract

    We introduce a method for simultaneously estimating gaze directions and types of the gazed objects from corneal images captured by an eye camera embedded in an eye tracker. The proposed method is useful for simplifying the inherent mechanisms of eye trackers. Since the target objects are distorted on the corneal images, we use two approaches: one is to undistort the images and then apply conventional object detection, and the other is to apply deep learning-based object detection directly to the distorted images. In the latter approach, we describe a method to collect a large amount of data to train the detection with little effort.

  41. G. A. Garcia Ricardez, F. von Drigalski, L. El Hafi, S. Okada, P.-C. Yang, W. Yamazaki, V. G. Hoerig, A. Delmotte, A. Yuguchi, M. Gall, C. Shiogama, K. Toyoshima, P. M. Uriguen Eljuri, R. Elizalde Zapata, M. Ding, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "Warehouse Picking Automation System with Learning- and Feature-based Object Recognition and Grasping Point Estimation", in Proceedings of 2017 SICE System Integration Division Annual Conference (SI 2017), pp. 2249-2253, Sendai, Japan, Dec. 20, 2017. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    The Amazon Robotics Challenge (ARC) has become one of the biggest robotic competitions in the field of warehouse automation and manipulation. In this paper, we present our solution to the ARC 2017 which uses both learning-based and feature-based techniques for object recognition and grasp point estimation in unstructured collections of objects and a partially controlled space. Our solution proved effective both for previously unknown items even with little data acquisition, as well as for items from the training set, obtaining the 6th place out of 16 contestants.

  42. G. A. Garcia Ricardez, F. von Drigalski, L. El Hafi, M. Ding, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "Lessons from the Airbus Shopfloor Challenge 2016 and the Amazon Robotics Challenge 2017", in Proceedings of 2017 SICE System Integration Division Annual Conference (SI 2017), pp. 572-575, Sendai, Japan, Dec. 20, 2017. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    International robotics competitions bring together the research community to solve real-world, current problems such as drilling in aircraft manufacturing (Airbus Shopfloor Challenge) and warehouse automation (Amazon Robotics Challenge). In this paper, we discuss our approaches to these competitions and describe the technical difficulties, design philosophy, development, lessons learned and remaining challenges.

  43. F. von Drigalski*, L. El Hafi*, P. M. Uriguen Eljuri*, G. A. Garcia Ricardez*, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "Vibration-Reducing End Effector for Automation of Drilling Tasks in Aircraft Manufacturing", in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L), vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 2316-2321, Oct, 2017. DOI: 10.1109/LRA.2017.2715398 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.][Presented at 2017 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2017), Vancouver, Canada, Sep. 2017.][*Authors contributed equally.]

    Abstract

    In this letter, we present an end effector that can drill holes compliant to aeronautic standards while mounted on a lightweight robot arm. There is an unmet demand for a robotic solution capable of drilling inside an aircraft fuselage, as size, weight, and space constraints disqualify current commercial solutions for this task. Our main contribution is the mechanical design of the end effector with high-friction, vibration-reducing feet that are pressed against the workpiece during the drilling process to increase stability, and a separate linear actuator to advance the drill. This relieves the robot arm of the task of advancing and stabilizing the drill, and leaves it with the task of positioning and holding the end effector. The stabilizing properties of the end effector are confirmed experimentally. The solution took first place at the Airbus Shopfloor Challenge, an international robotics competition held at ICRA 2016 that modeled the in-fuselage drilling task.

  44. L. El Hafi, "STARE: Real-Time, Wearable, Simultaneous Gaze Tracking and Object Recognition from Eye Images (STARE: 眼球画像を用いた実時間処理可能な装着型デバイスによる視線追跡と物体認識)", in Doctor thesis, Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), ref. NAIST-IS-DD1461207, Ikoma, Japan, Sep. 25, 2017. DOI: 10.34413/dr.01472 [Doctor thesis.]

    Abstract

    This thesis proposes STARE, a wearable system to perform real-time, simultaneous eye tracking and focused object recognition for daily-life applications in varied illumination environments. The proposed system extracts both the gaze direction and scene information using eye images captured by a single RGB camera facing the user's eye. In particular, the method requires neither infrared sensors nor a front-facing camera to capture the scene, making it more socially acceptable when embedded in a wearable device. This approach is made possible by recent technological advances in increased resolution and reduced size of camera sensors, as well as significantly more powerful image treatment techniques based on deep learning. First, a model-based approach is used to estimate the gaze direction using RGB eye images. A 3D eye model is constructed from an image of the eye by fitting an ellipse onto the iris. The gaze direction is then continuously track by rotating the model to simulate projections of the iris area for different eye poses and matching the iris area of the subsequent images with the corresponding projections obtained from the model. By using an additional one-time calibration, the point of regard (POR) is computed, which allows to identify where a user is looking in the scene image reflected on the cornea. Next, objects in the scene reflected on the cornea are recognized in real time using the gaze direction information. Deep learning algorithms are applied to classify and then recognize the focused object in the area surrounding the reflected POR on the eye image. Additional processes using High Dynamic Range (HDR) demonstrate that the proposed method can perform in varied illumination conditions. Finally, the validity of the approach is verified experimentally with a 3D-printable prototype of a wearable device equipped with dual cameras, and a high-sensitivity camera in extreme illumination conditions. Further, a proof-of-concept implementation of a state-of-the-art neural network shows that the focused object recognition can be performed in real time. To summarize, the proposed method and prototype contribute a novel, complete framework to 1) simultaneously perform eye tracking and focused object analysis in real time, 2) automatically generate datasets of focused objects by using the reflected POR, 3) reduce the number of sensors in current gaze trackers to a single RGB camera, and 4) enable daily-life applications in all kinds of illumination. The combination of these features makes it an attractive choice for eye-based human behavior analysis, as well as for creating large datasets of objects focused by the user during daily tasks.

  45. L. El Hafi, M. Ding, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "STARE: Realtime, Wearable, Simultaneous Gaze Tracking and Object Recognition from Eye Images", in SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal, vol. 126, no. 6, pp. 37-46, Aug. 9, 2017. DOI: 10.5594/JMI.2017.2711899 [International journal article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    We propose STARE, a wearable system to perform realtime, simultaneous eye tracking and focused object recognition for daily-life applications in varied illumination environments. Our proposed method uses a single camera sensor to evaluate the gaze direction and requires neither a front-facing camera nor infrared sensors. To achieve this, we describe: 1) a model-based approach to estimate the gaze direction using red-green-blue (RGB) eye images; 2) a method to recognize objects in the scene reflected on the cornea in real time; and 3) a 3D-printable prototype of a wearable gaze-tracking device. We verify the validity of our approach experimentally with different types of cameras in different illumination settings, and with a proof-of-concept implementation of a state-of-the-art neural network. The proposed system can be used as a framework for RGB-based eye tracking and human behavior analysis.

  46. G. A. Garcia Ricardez*, L. El Hafi*, F. von Drigalski*, R. Elizalde Zapata, C. Shiogama, K. Toyoshima, P. M. Uriguen Eljuri, M. Gall, A. Yuguchi, A. Delmotte, V. G. Hoerig, W. Yamazaki, S. Okada, Y. Kato, R. Futakuchi, K. Inoue, K. Asai, Y. Okazaki, M. Yamamoto, M. Ding, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "Climbing on Giant's Shoulders: Newcomer's Road into the Amazon Robotics Challenge 2017", in Proceedings of 2017 IEEE ICRA Warehouse Picking Automation Workshop (WPAW 2017), Singapore, Singapore, May 29, 2017. [International workshop article, non-peer-reviewed.][*Authors contributed equally.]

    Abstract

    The Amazon Robotics Challenge has become one of the biggest robotic challenges in the field of warehouse automation and manipulation. In this paper, we present an overview of materials available for newcomers to the challenge, what we learned from the previous editions and discuss the new challenges within the Amazon Robotics Challenge 2017. We also outline how we developed our solution, the results of an investigation on suction cup size and some notable difficulties we encountered along the way. Our aim is to speed up development for those who come after and, as first-time contenders like us, have to develop a solution from zero.

  47. L. El Hafi, M. Ding, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "眼球画像を用いた視線追跡と物体認識 日常生活のための装着型デバイス (Gaze Tracking and Object Recognition from Eye Images: Wearable Device for Daily Life)", in Proceedings of 2017 JSME Conference on Robotics and Mechatronics (ROBOMECH 2017), no. 17-2, ref. 2A1-I12, pp. 1-2, Fukushima, Japan, May 10, 2017. DOI: 10.1299/jsmermd.2017.2A1-I12 [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

    Abstract

    This paper introduces a method to identify the focused object in eye images captured from a single camera in order to enable intuitive eye-based interactions using wearable devices. The proposed method relies on a 3D eye model reconstruction to evaluate the gaze direction from the eye images. The gaze direction is then used in combination with deep learning algorithms to classify the focused object reflected on the cornea. Experimental results using a wearable prototype demonstrate the potential of the proposed method.

  48. L. El Hafi, M. Ding, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "Gaze Tracking and Object Recognition from Eye Images", in Proceedings of 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotic Computing (IRC 2017), pp. 310-315, Taichung, Taiwan, Apr. 10, 2017. DOI: 10.1109/IRC.2017.44 [International conference article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    This paper introduces a method to identify the focused object in eye images captured from a single camera in order to enable intuitive eye-based interactions using wearable devices. Indeed, eye images allow to not only obtain natural user responses from eye movements, but also the scene reflected on the cornea without the need for additional sensors such as a frontal camera, thus making it more socially acceptable. The proposed method relies on a 3D eye model reconstruction to evaluate the gaze direction from the eye images. The gaze direction is then used in combination with deep learning algorithms to classify the focused object reflected on the cornea. Finally, the experimental results using a wearable prototype demonstrate the potential of the proposed method solely based on eye images captured from a single camera.

  49. L. El Hafi, M. Ding, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "Gaze Tracking using Corneal Images Captured by a Single High-Sensitivity Camera", in The Best of IET and IBC 2016-2017, vol. 8, pp. 19-24, Sep. 8, 2016. [International journal article, peer-reviewed.][Also in Proceedings of 2016 International Broadcasting Convention (IBC 2016), pp. 33-43, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sep. 2016.]

    Abstract

    This paper introduces a method to estimate gaze direction using images of the eye captured by a single high-sensitivity camera. The purpose is to develop wearable devices that enable intuitive eye-based interactions and applications. Indeed, camera-based solutions, as opposed to commercially available infrared-based ones, allow wearable devices to not only obtain natural user responses from eye movements, but also scene images reflected on the cornea, without the need for additional sensors. The proposed method relies on a model approach to evaluate the gaze direction and does not require a frontal camera to capture scene information, making it more socially acceptable if embedded in a glasses-shaped device. Moreover, recent development in high-sensitivity camera sensors allows us to consider the proposed method even in low-light condition. Finally, experimental results using a prototype wearable device demonstrate the potential of the proposed method solely based on cornea images captured from a single camera.

  50. L. El Hafi, M. Ding, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "Gaze Tracking using Corneal Images Captured by a Single High-Sensitivity Camera", in Proceedings of 2016 International Broadcasting Convention (IBC 2016), pp. 33-43, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sep. 8, 2016. DOI: 10.1049/ibc.2016.0033 [International conference article, peer-reviewed.][Also in The Best of IET and IBC 2016-2017, vol. 8, pp. 19-24, Sep. 2016.]

    Abstract

    This paper introduces a method to estimate gaze direction using images of the eye captured by a single high-sensitivity camera. The purpose is to develop wearable devices that enable intuitive eye-based interactions and applications. Indeed, camera-based solutions, as opposed to commercially available infrared-based ones, allow wearable devices to not only obtain natural user responses from eye movements, but also scene images reflected on the cornea, without the need for additional sensors. The proposed method relies on a model approach to evaluate the gaze direction and does not require a frontal camera to capture scene information, making it more socially acceptable if embedded in a glasses-shaped device. Moreover, recent development in high-sensitivity camera sensors allows us to consider the proposed method even in low-light condition. Finally, experimental results using a prototype wearable device demonstrate the potential of the proposed method solely based on cornea images captured from a single camera.

  51. F. von Drigalski*, L. El Hafi*, P. M. Uriguen Eljuri*, G. A. Garcia Ricardez*, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "NAIST Drillbot: Drilling Robot at the Airbus Shopfloor Challenge", in Proceedings of 2016 Annual Conference of the Robotics Society of Japan (RSJ 2016), ref. RSJ2016AC3X2-03, pp. 1-2, Yamagata, Japan, Sep. 7, 2016. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][*Authors contributed equally.]

    Abstract

    We propose a complete, modular robotic solution for industrial drilling tasks in an aircraft fuselage. The main contribution is a custom-made end effector with vibration-reducing feet that rest on the workpiece during the drilling process to increase stability. The solution took 1st place at the Airbus Shopfloor Challenge, an international robotics competition held at ICRA 2016.

  52. L. El Hafi, P. M. Uriguen Eljuri, M. Ding, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "Wearable Device for Camera-based Eye Tracking: Model Approach using Cornea Images (カメラを用いた視線追跡のための装着型デバイス 角膜画像によるモデルアプローチ)", in Proceedings of 2016 JSME Conference on Robotics and Mechatronics (ROBOMECH 2016), no. 16-2, ref. 1A2-14a4, pp. 1-4, Yokohama, Japan, Jun. 8, 2016. DOI: 10.1299/jsmermd.2016.1A2-14a4 [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    The industry's recent growing interest in virtual reality, augmented reality and smart wearable devices has created a new momentum for eye tracking. Eye movements in particular are viewed as a way to obtain natural user responses from wearable devices alongside gaze information used to analyze interests and behaviors. This paper extends our previous work by introducing a wearable eye-tracking device that enables the reconstruction of 3D eye models of each eye from two RGB cameras. The proposed device is built using high-resolution cameras and a 3D-printed frame attached to a pair of JINS MEME glasses. The 3D eye models reconstructed from the proposed device can be used with any model-based eye-tracking approach. The proposed device is also capable of extracting scene information from the cornea reflections captured by the cameras, detecting blinks from an electrooculography sensor as well as tracking head movements from an accelerometer combined with a gyroscope.

  53. A. Yuguchi, R. Matsura, R. Baba, Y. Hakamata, W. Yamazaki, F. von Drigalski, L. El Hafi, S. Tsuichihara, M. Ding, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "モーションキャプチャによるボールキャッチ可能なロボット制御コンポーネント群の開発 (Development of Robot Control Components for Ball-Catching Task using Motion Capture Device)", in Proceedings of 2015 SICE System Integration Division Annual Conference (SI 2015), pp. 1067-1068, Nagoya, Japan, Dec. 14, 2015. [Domestic conference article, non-peer-reviewed.][Published in Japanese.]

    Abstract

    This paper describes the design and implementation of RT-middleware components for a ball-catching task by humanoid robots. We create a component to get the position of a thrown reflective ball from a motion capture device. We also create component to estimate the trajectory and the point where it will fall. The estimation is used to catch the ball using an HRP-4 humanoid robot with the control component.

  54. L. El Hafi, K. Takemura, J. Takamatsu, and T. Ogasawara, "Model-based Approach for Gaze Estimation from Corneal Imaging using a Single Camera", in Proceedings of 2015 IEEE/SICE International Symposium on System Integration (SII 2015), pp. 88-93, Nagoya, Japan, Dec. 11, 2015. DOI: 10.1109/SII.2015.7404959 [International conference article, peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    This paper describes a method to estimate the gaze direction using cornea images captured by a single camera. The purpose is to develop wearable devices capable of obtaining natural user responses, such as interests and behaviors, from eye movements and scene images reflected on the cornea. From an image of the eye, an ellipse is fitted on the colored iris area. A 3D eye model is reconstructed from the ellipse and rotated to simulate projections of the iris area for different eye poses. The gaze direction is then evaluated by matching the iris area of the current image with the corresponding projection obtained from the model. We finally conducted an experiment using a head-mounted prototype to demonstrate the potential of such an eye-tracking method solely based on cornea images captured from a single camera.

  55. L. El Hafi, J.-B. Lorent, and G. Rouvroy, "Mapping SDI with a Light-Weight Compression for High Frame Rates and Ultra-HD 4K Transport over SMPTE 2022-5/6", in Proceedings of 2014 VSF Content in Motion, Annual Technical Conference and Exposition (VidTrans14), Arlington, United States, Feb. 26, 2014. [International workshop article, non-peer-reviewed.]

    Abstract

    Considering the necessary bandwidth for the next generation of television with higher resolution video and higher frame rates, live uncompressed transport across 10 GB Ethernet network is not always possible. Indeed, uncompressed 4K video at 60 fps requires 12 Gbps or more. A light-weight compression can be optimal to address this challenge. A pure lossless codec would be the best. However, in general it is difficult to predict the compression ratio achievable by a lossless codec. Therefore, a light-weight visually lossless guaranteeing compression at very low compression ratio with no impact on latency seems optimal to perfectly map SDI links over SMPTE 2022-5/6.

  56. L. El Hafi* and T. Denison*, "TICO : Étude d'un système de compression vidéo de faible complexité sur FPGA (TICO: Study of a Low-Complexity Video Compression Scheme for FPGA)", in Master thesis, Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) & intoPIX, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, Jun. 2013. [Master thesis.][*Authors contributed equally.][Published in French.]

    Abstract

    L'évolution des techniques d'affichage, en matière de résolution d'écran, de nombre d'images par seconde et de profondeur des couleurs, nécessite de nouveaux systèmes de compression en vue de réduire notamment la puissance consommée aux interfaces vidéo. Face à cette problématique, le consortium Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) lance en janvier 2013 un appel à propositions pour la création d'un nouveau standard de compression Display Stream Compression (DSC). Ce document, réalisé en collaboration avec intoPIX, répond à l'appel de VESA et propose Tiny Codec (TICO), un schéma de compression vidéo de faible complexité hardware. Il y est décrit d'une part l'étude algorithmique d'un codeur entropique, inspiré de l'Universal Variable Length Coding (UVLC), affichant un rendement de 85% sur du contenu filmé et, d'autre part, l'implémentation sur FPGA d'une transformée en ondelettes discrète, horizontale de type 5:3, traitant des flux vidéo 4K jusqu'à 120 images par seconde. L'implémentation réalisée consomme 340 slices par composante de couleur sur les plateformes basse consommation Artix-7 de Xilinx.

Lectures

  1. "Getting Started with the HSR Software Development Environment for Team Collaboration on Robotics Projects and Competitions", at 2nd Session of EU HSR Community Webinar Series, Online, Jan. 21, 2021. [Invited lecture.]

    Abstract

    The presentation describes the motivations, tools, and strategies to successfully get started with the HSR Software Development Environment (SDE) collectively developed within the HSR Community by the members of the HSR SDE Working Group with the support of Toyota Motor Corporation. The HSR SDE aims at 1) enabling interdisciplinary teams to quickly start using the HSR in their projects, and 2) accelerate research implementation and integration between the members of the HSR Community by containerizing the whole HSR development, simulation, and operation process in a virtual environment that can be conveniently shared between users. This presentation should particularly be of interest to teams collaborating on large research projects or preparing for international robotics competitions with the HSR.

  2. "Getting Started with the HSR Software Development Environment for Team Collaboration on Robotics Projects and Competitions", at 5th HSR Annual Users' Conference, Online, Nov. 23, 2020. [Invited lecture.]

    Abstract

    The presentation describes the motivations, tools, and strategies to successfully get started with the HSR Software Development Environment (SDE) collectively developed within the HSR Community by the members of the HSR SDE Working Group with the support of Toyota Motor Corporation. The HSR SDE aims at 1) enabling interdisciplinary teams to quickly start using the HSR in their projects, and 2) accelerate research implementation and integration between the members of the HSR Community by containerizing the whole HSR development, simulation, and operation process in a virtual environment that can be conveniently shared between users. The presentation also marks the initial public release of the SDE that has been evaluated in a private testing phase through a small-scale deployment within the core members of the HSR Community since 2019. Finally, this presentation should particularly be of interest to teams collaborating on large research projects or preparing for international robotics competitions with the HSR.

  3. "Introduction to Efficient Source Code Management for Team Collaboration on Robotics Projects", at 10th Symposium of the Intelligent Home Robotics Research Committee (iHR), Online, Sep. 19, 2020. [Invited lecture.][Conducted in Japanese.]

    Abstract

    The presentation describes the strategies and tools successfully deployed by the members of the HSR Software Development Environment Working Group (Toyota HSR Community) and Team NAIST-RITS-Panasonic (Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Ritsumeikan University, Panasonic Corporation) to 1) collaborate on large robotics projects in academia, and 2) participate in international robotics competitions. In particular, the presentation describes how to introduce multiple layers of abstraction between the different components and processes to enable the collaborators to focus on their individual expertise and rely on automated tests and simulations from the system. The ultimate goal is to share our proven experience in international competitions with other interdisciplinary teams to help them efficiently work together on large robotics projects.

Fundings

  1. Grant Recipient, Research Promotion Program for Acquiring Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI)

    Sep. 2019

    by Ritsumeikan University with 200,000 JPY
    in Kyoto, Japan

    Details

    Awarded with a grant of 200,000 JPY to stimulate the acquisition of additional competitive funds through the application of Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI).

  2. Grant Recipient, Research Promotion Program for Acquiring Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI)

    Sep. 2018

    by Ritsumeikan University with 200,000 JPY
    in Kyoto, Japan

    Details

    Awarded with a grant of 200,000 JPY to stimulate the acquisition of additional competitive funds through the application of Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI).

  3. Grant Recipient, CREST AIP Challenge Program

    Jun. 2018

    by Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) with 1,000,000 JPY
    in Tokyo, Japan

    Details

    Awarded with a research grant of 1,000,000 JPY as a young researcher who belongs to a CREST team under the AIP Network Laboratory in order to explore and develop an original research work related to the CREST project objectives.

  4. Grant Recipient, MEXT Scholarship Program

    Feb. 2014

    by Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) with 6,060,000 JPY
    in Tokyo, Japan

    Details

    Selected to conduct research in Japan through recommendation by the Japanese diplomatic mission in Belgium, and awarded a grant totaling 6,060,000 JPY over 3 years and 6 months.

  5. Grant Recipient, EXPLORT Program

    Sep. 2013

    by Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency (AWEX) with 3,000 EUR
    in Brussels, Belgium

    Details

    Selected among more than 70 candidates for an intensive training in international business and management, and awarded 3,000 EUR for a mission in the United States.

Projects

Travel