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INTeractive RObotics Research Network

Final Report Summary - INTRO (INTeractive RObotics Research Network)

The INTRO project was an ITN project in Human Robot Interaction that started Jan 1 2010 and ended Dec 31 2013. The following academic and industrial partners were represented in the network:

– Umeå University, Sweden
– Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
– Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
– Space Applications Services, Belgium
– Robosoft, France
– University of the West of England, UK

The aim of INTRO was to create a new generation of robotic researchers with a broad understanding of the research and technologies needed to build intelligent robots that function in close interaction with humans in unstructured, changing “real world” conditions. The training had a strong multidisciplinary approach complemented by specialized domain knowledge. Young researchers worked closely with industries, endowing them with insight and understanding of the industrial product lifecycle and valuable hands-on experience of top-level industrial robot development.
By blending complementary skills, the goal was to improve the career perspectives of young researchers, in both academic and industrial sectors. This was achieved through a transnational network of universities and robot companies, with senior researchers from different disciplines (robotics, artificial intelligence, cognitive sciences, human factors) coming from different ‘schools-of-thought’ (computer sciences, industrial engineering, psychology). Each PhD student was stationed at one of the universities and underwent a secondment and visited other partners. The post-doctoral researchers were stationed at one of the partner companies, with several visits to the other partners’ institutions.
The project’s research objectives were to conduct research to improve robot capabilities by combining human and robot experience and to provide robots with cognitive and multi-modal interaction abilities. However, the main focus of the INTRO project was to offer multidisciplinary training to ten young researchers in a joint industrial and academic environment. The recruitment of 8 ESRs and 2 ERs was successful. The advertisement was published in more than 25 web sites/mailing lists and several positions received more than 100 applicants. Problems with residential permits and visa caused some delays but all eight ERSs (seven male and one female) were in place at their respective universities roughly according to schedule. The eight ESRs were assigned the following research topics:

ESR1 Roy Someshwar - Modeling Human Robot Collaboration (HRC) for Time-Critical Tasks
ESR2 Benjamin Fonooni - Learning by Demonstration
ESR3 Guido Schillaci - Behaviour & intention recognition for human-robot learning
ESR4 Sasa Bodiroza - Dynamic Gesture Analysis
ESR5 Bo Li - Emotional interaction
ESR6 Maria Elena Giannaccini - Inherent Safety in a Robotic Manipulator meant for HRI
ESR7 Mohammad Sobhani - HRI Faults and Failure Recovery focusing on non-hardware interaction faults and human performance and behavior analysis.
ESR8 Guillaume Doisy - Intelligent Human Robot Interface for Robot with Learning capabilities

The recruitment process for ERs finished in August 2011 and Aleksandar Jevtic and Alex Kozlov were recruited to Robosoft and Space Applications respectively. In collaboration with the other INTRO researchers, they integrated research results from the projects into two demonstrators: Robot Waiter and Urban Search And Rescue Robot. A concept video for the Robot Waiter scenario can be seen at and also on YouTube:
search for project intro interactive robotics research.
Three Visiting Scientists Tom Ziemke, Chris Harper, and Geoff Pegman were recruited, as well as Gurvinder Virk as external member of the Advisory Board. The INTRO management committee and Supervisory Board convened approximately every six months. Risk Contingency Plans for the research activities were continuously developed and updated.

INTRO had an intense and fruitful workshop and seminar activity:

Workshop 1 / Seminar 1 Sep-2010 at Umeå University. Main topics: Cooperative Learning, Cognitive HRI, Intelligent Interface Design and Commercial Robotics Applications.
Workshop 2 / Seminar 2 - March 2-4, 2011 at HU Berlin, Germany. Main topics: Intuitive Interaction, Advances in cooperative learning and interaction.
Workshop 3 / Seminar 3 – September 5-7, 2011 at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, UWE, Bristol, UK Main topics: Safety issues in Human Robot Interaction
Seminar 4 - Feb. 2012, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheeva, Israel.
Workshop 5 Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2012, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany. Main topics: each research group presented their systems and research developments and discussed problems. Integration planning was another aim of the meeting. Furthermore, the workshop included seminars on robot ethics and new challenges in robotics.
Workshop 4 & 6, June 10-14, 2013, Robosoft in Bidart, Spain. Main topics: Presentation of the INTRO project’s final results: Live robot demos for two application scenarios; Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) and Robot Waiter.
Other topics were lectures in Cognitive Science, Robot Autonomy, Human-Robot Interaction, and Project Management and Entrepreneurship.

A course in Kompai robot programming was arranged by Robosoft in Bidart, France November 22-26 2010, and was attended by six INTRO ESRs. All ESRs/ERs were given several opportunities to take courses on complementary skills such as training on entrepreneurship, academic writing, cognitive robotics research, research applications, organizing workshops and seminars, foreign languages, future design and creative thinking, and leadership.

The main focus in INTRO was the training programs for the ESRs/ERs. Every ESR had an updated Career Development Plan describing short- and long-term goals. All ESR and ERs had extensive travel programs including conference attendances and secondments that resulted in several joint projects and publications. In total, the research resulted in 54 international publications, out of which 12 are journal publications. Shortly after the official end of the project, one ESR got his doctorate degree. All 8 ESRs have been given extended positions at their respective university in order to complete their PhD education or to continue with research and are expected to have a successful academic career in front of them. The experiences and collaboration in the INTRO project have given them important multi-disciplinary experience as well as a broad, professional, and worldwide network.

More information can be found on the project website
and Wiki page