Trends and perspectives of artificial tactile sensing and feedback in robotics and advanced human-machine interaction

Wednesday, May 24th, 2023 at 18:00 CEST

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Prof. Matteo Bianchi

Department of Information Engineering
Bioengineering and Robotics Research Center “E. Piaggio”
University of Pisa
Pisa, Italy

Abstract: In this talk, I will present current trends and possible perspectives of haptics, i.e., the science of touch, for endowing artificial robotic hands with advanced tactile perceptual properties and for enhancing human-machine interaction in different fields, including telerobotics, surgical robotics, assistive robotics, and tactile augmented reality. For the latter point, I will present wearable solutions for implementing the haptic “feel-through” paradigm, for which my group is among the pioneers. The starting point of my research is the mathematical modelling of human biological touch, which is highly intertwined with the motor system, to devise design and control strategies for the engineering of wearable devices (for the delivery of tactile information), and artificial sensors.

Bio: Matteo Bianchi is an Associate Professor at the Department of Information Engineering and at the Bioengineering and Robotics Research Centre “E. Piaggio” of the University of Pisa, where he is the Vice-Coordinator of the MSc in Robotics and Automation Engineering. From 2015 to 2023 he also had a research temporary professional appointment at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, US). From 2017 to 2022 he served as a Co-Chair of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) Technical Committee on Robotic Hands, Grasping and Manipulation, which was the recipient of the RAS Most Active Technical Committee Award for the activities performed in 2021. From 2018 to 2021 he served as a Vice-Chair for Information and Dissemination of the RAS Technical Committee on Haptics. In 2011 he worked as a visiting student at the Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, US). His main research interests include haptic interfaces, tactile sensors, sensing and control of robotic hands. He acts as the Principal Investigator of national and EU grants, and research contracts with companies in the field of human-machine interaction. He is author or co-author of more than 150 peer-reviewed contributions and serves as member of the editorial/organizing board of international conferences and journals in the fields of haptics and robotics. He is the recipient of several national and international scientific awards.


Task-Oriented Cross System Design for Metaverse in the 6G Era

Wednesday, April 19th, 2023 at 18:00 CEST

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Prof. Philip Guodong Zhao

James Watt School of Engineering
University of Glasgow

Abstract: As an emerging concept, the Metaverse has the potential to revolutionize the social interaction in the post-pandemic era by establishing a digital world for online education, remote healthcare, immersive business, intelligent transportation, and advanced manufacturing. The goal is ambitious, yet the methodologies and technologies to achieve the full vision of the Metaverse remain unclear.  In this talk, we first introduce the three infrastructure pillars that lay the foundation of the Metaverse, i.e., human-computer interfaces, sensing and communication systems, and network architectures. Then, we depict the roadmap towards the Metaverse that consists of four stages with different applications. To support diverse applications in the Metaverse, we put forward a novel design methodology: task-oriented design, and further review the challenges and the potential solutions. In the case study, we develop a prototype to illustrate how to synchronize a real-world device and its digital model in the Metaverse by task-oriented design, where a deep reinforcement learning algorithm is adopted to minimize the required communication throughput by optimizing the sampling and prediction systems subject to a synchronization error constraint.

Bio: Philip Zhao is a Senior Lecturer in James Watt School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow. He is the senior academic lead of the Scotland 5G Centre.  Zhao is an IEEE Senior Member and has expertise in machine learning and optimization for wireless communications and robotics systems with a £3m research portfolio as PI and Co-PI, including a Scotland 5G Centre Wave 1 project and an industry-funded research project. He has over 100 publications (including 20+ IEEE journals, such as JSAC, TCOM, TWC, TVT, etc. and top conferences, such as ICRA, IROS, ICC, Globecom, etc.). He received best paper awards from flagship conferences in IEEE INFOCOM (2021) and IEEE GLOBECOM (2012), and holds two patents. Zhao has led £1m University capital equipment projects in 2020-2022 and established the robotics lab with private 5G connectivity. As PI, Zhao delivered and secured robotics projects with industry partners: Innovate UK SUPERIOR in 2021 (VR robotics), a follow-on KTP project in 2022-2024 and the GKEF (Robotics Safety).  His research interests are machine learning and AI (deep learning and reinforcement learning) for cross-system design and optimization, including sensing (computer vision), communication (5G and 6G), and robotics (cyber physical infrastructure/internet of robot), and their applications in Metaverse, health and care, warehouse, transportation, etc.


Is the Internet ready to be tactile?

March 15th, 2023, 18:00-19:00 (CET)

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Prof. Matthias Wählisch

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Abstract: The Internet is the largest distributed, networked system currently deployed. In recent times, we have faced a race for lower latencies and a trend towards consolidation and centralization. Not all changes that we are experiencing are for the good of the common Internet but will threaten innovation of Internet services and applications in the future. In this presentation, I will revisit current protocol, systems, and deployment aspects that aim for more security and lower latency. I will share some lessons that I learned while trying to improve both the Internet core and the edge, including the constrained Internet of Things.

Bio: Matthias is an assistant professor of computer science at Freie Universität Berlin, heading the Internet Technologies research group. His research and teaching focus on efficient, reliable, and secure Internet communication. This includes the design and evaluation of networking protocols and architectures as well as Internet measurements and analysis. Matthias is actively involved in the IETF since 2005 and co-founded multiple successful open source projects such as RIOT, the friendly operating system for the Internet of Things, and RTRlib, a library for BGP origin validation. He is also a member of the Advisory Boards of BCIX, the Berlin Commercial Internet Exchange e.V., and INSO, Internet Namespace Security Observatory.


Semantics-aware Goal-Oriented Communications: Age of Information and beyond 

January 25, 2023, 18:00-19:00 (CET)

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Prof. Nikolaos Pappas

Associate Professor
Department of Computer and Information Science
Linköping University, Sweden

Abstract: Wireless networks are evolving to cater to emerging cyber-physical and mission-critical interactive systems, such as swarm robotics, self-driving cars, and smart Internet of Things. A fundamental shift in thinking is necessary to satisfy the requirements for real-time communication, autonomous decision-making, and efficient distributed processing. In this talk, we will focus on the freshness and value of information, and we will present some results and ongoing works toward semantics-aware goal-oriented communication for real-time tracking and actuation in autonomous systems, source coding, and IoT.

Bio: Nikolaos Pappas (Senior Member, IEEE) received the B.Sc. degree in computer science, the B.Sc. degree in mathematics, the M.Sc. degree in computer science, and the Ph.D. degree in computer science from the University of Crete, Greece, in 2005, 2012, 2007, and 2012, respectively. From 2005 to 2012, he was a Graduate Research Assistant with the Telecommunications and Networks Laboratory, Institute of Computer Science, FORTH, Heraklion, Greece, and a Visiting Scholar with the Institute of Systems Research, University of Maryland at College Park, College Park, MD, USA. From 2012 to 2014, he was a postdoctoral Researcher with the Department of Telecommunications, CentraleSupélec, Gif-sur-Yvette, France. He is currently an Associate Professor with the Department of Computer and Information Science, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden. His main research interests include the field of wireless communication networks with an emphasis on semantics-aware communications, energy harvesting networks, network-level cooperation, age of information, and stochastic geometry. Dr. Pappas has served as the Symposium Co-Chair of the IEEE International Conference on Communications in 2022 and the IEEE Wireless Communications and Networking Conference in 2022. He is an Editor of the IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON COMMUNICATIONS, the IEEE Transactions on Machine Learning in Communications and Networking, the IEEE/KICS JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATIONS AND NETWORKS, area editor of the IEEE OPEN JOURNAL OF THE COMMUNICATIONS SOCIETY, and an Expert Editor for invited papers of the IEEE COMMUNICATIONS LETTERS. He is a guest editor of the IEEE Internet of Things Magazine and the IEEE Network. He was a Guest Editor of the IEEE INTERNET OF THINGS JOURNAL on “Age of Information and Data Semantics for Sensing, Communication and Control Co-Design in IoT.”


6G and Onward to Next G: Virtual Immortality, Eternal Life, and Other Metaverse Pastimes 

December 14, 2022, 18:00-19:00 (CET)

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Prof. Martin Maier

National Institute for Scientific Research 
(or INRS — Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique)
Montréal, Canada

Abstract: Similar to the Tactile Internet, the Metaverse aims at the fusion of digital and real worlds. While the Tactile Internet’s key use cases of teleoperation and haptic communications considered in IEEE P1918.1 have been studied extensively, the one of immersive virtuality is rather poorly understood. This holds particularly true for the Metaverse, the anticipated successor to today’s mobile Internet, which will be about being inside the Internet rather than simply looking at it from a phone or computer screen. The Metaverse is broadly envisioned as a parallel plane for human leisure, labor, and life. It will be ushered in through new experiences and transformations that result. According to Jeff Jarvis, we do not yet know what the Internet truly is, though its impact is anticipated to be eventually similar or even superior to that of Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press. Measured in Gutenberg time, we stand today at about the year 1481 with the progression of disruption in society. Note that Luther was born in the year 1483. Hence, the Internet’s Martin Luther is yet to come. This webinar aims at facilitating a better understanding of the potential of the Metaverse by revisiting old ideas such as virtual immortality and navigating the role of 6G and Next G networks in paving the road to the emerging Metaverse and future Multiverse.

Bio: Martin Maier is a full professor with the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS), Montréal, Canada. He was educated at the Technical University of Berlin, Germany, and received MSc and PhD degrees both with distinctions (summa cum laude) in 1998 and 2003, respectively. He was a recipient of the two-year Deutsche Telekom doctoral scholarship from 1999 through 2001. In 2003, he was a postdoc fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA. He was a visiting professor at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 2006 through 2007. He was a co-recipient of the 2009 IEEE Communications Society Best Tutorial Paper Award. Further, he was a Marie Curie IIF Fellow of the European Commission from 2014 through 2015. In 2017, he received the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt (AvH) Foundation in recognition of his accomplishments in research on FiWi-enhanced mobile networks. In 2017, he was named one of the three most promising scientists in the category “Contribution to a better society” of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) 2017 Prize Award of the European Commission. In 2019/2020, he held a UC3M-Banco de Santander Excellence Chair at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), Madrid, Spain. He is co-author of the book “Toward 6G: A New Era of Convergence” (Wiley-IEEE Press, January 2021) and author of the forthcoming book “6G and Onward to Next G: The Road to the Multiverse” (Wiley-IEEE Press, January 2023).


Networked Cyber-Physical Systems for automotive applications

October 19, 2022, 18:00-19:00 (CEST)

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Prof. Stefano Giordano

Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell’Informazione &
CNIT (National Inter-University Consortium for Telecommunications)
Università di Pisa, Italy

Abstract: The lessons given by more than half a century of packet switching communications demonstrated that the Internet was not only relevant for reliability and efficiency but as an apical example of a global transformation that is characterized by the “platformization” of the global information infrastructures. The Tactile Internet opened new challenges in this transition process where sensing, communication, storage, and processing (particularly Artificial Intelligence and Real-Time Control) will be totally integrated. Networked Cyber-Physical systems, where complex digital twins running in cyberspace cooperate with physical entities, allow validating of the new paradigms transforming telecommunications and networking. In the seminar, the case of active fluid dynamics for vehicles (such as motorbikes and cars) will be presented, offering the opportunity to face new communication and real-time control requirements highlighting  the value of the “enabling platform” that can start from the solution of challenging system integration problems producing at the end new services totally unforeseen at the very beginning.

Bio: Stefano Giordano is a full professor at the Department of Information Engineering of the University of Pisa where he is the responsible for the Telecommunication Networks Laboratories. He is a senior member of IEEE Comsoc  and former Chair of the Communication Systems Integration and Modelling (CSIM) Technical Committee. He has been a member of IFIP WG 6.3 (Performance Evaluation of Communication Systems) and of the ISOC (Internet Society) since its foundation in 1992. He is a member of the general assembly of CNIT (the Italian National Consortium for Telecommunications) and vice-chair of the Tactile Internet TC. He is the author of more than 300 papers from peer-reviewed international conferences and journals on the practical and theoretical aspects of modern networking, including SDN, NFV, and IoT. He was responsible for the participation of the University of Pisa in the Euro-NGI (Next Generation Internet in Europe) Network of Excellence. He was a member of the spin-off committee of the University of Pisa, co-founder of two companies (Networks and Netresults), and CUBIT consortium, where he is President of the board. He is a member of the Education Service Board of IEEE COMSOC, actively working on STEM Pre-University actions. 


From Network Softwarization to In-Network Computing

Septemer 28, 2022, 18:00-19:00 (CEST)

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Dr. Giang T. Nguyen

Assistant Professor, Haptic Communication Systems
Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Centre for Tactile Internet with Human-in-the-Loop (CeTI)
TU Dresden

Abstract: In this talk, I will briefly present the transition of networking devices from dedicated hardware appliances to software components on a shared infrastructure. This transition enables computing inside communication networks or In-Network Computing. Subsequently, I will present an application of In-Network Computing to accelerate audio signal processing for industrial IoT. Conventional Network Functions (NFs) are dedicated hardware appliances consisting of a switching fabric and the software implementing the logic of the NF. Advantages of optimized design and fine-tuning functionality with high throughput come alongside longer product development cycles and decreased service agility. Network Softwarization decouples the hardware-related packet forwarding of the NF from its functionality, which can be implemented entirely in software. That allows novel algorithms to process packets beyond the constraints of hardware switching fabrics. We transformed the centralized ICA (Independent Component Analysis) algorithm into a decentralized version to leverage the In-Network Computing paradigm, accelerating the Blind Source Separation of audio signals.

Bio: Since July 2021, Giang T. Nguyen has been an Assistant Professor, heading the Junior Professorship of Haptic Communication Systems at TU Dresden. His research focuses on networked systems’ low latency, flexibility, and resilience to facilitate haptic communication. Previously, he worked on networking and edge/cloud computing at the robotic company Wandelbots, which he co-founded in 2017. Between 2016 and 2019, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Deutsche Telekom Chair of Communication Networks, TU Dresden, working on network softwarization and information theory. Before that, he received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Telecommunications, respectively, in Vietnam in 2001 and Thailand in 2005. Between 2010 and 2014, he was a DAAD scholar and a Ph.D. researcher at TU Darmstadt, Germany. In 2016, he obtained a Doctoral degree in Computer Science from TU Dresden.