14. December 2020

Research Unit on robotics goes into the next round Research Unit on robotics goes into the next round

German Research Foundation extends research group at the University of Bonn for second funding period

The German Research Foundation extends the Research Unit 2535 "Anticipating Human Behavior" for three more years. Since 2017, scientists in the group have been investigating how artificial intelligence recognizes and anticipates human behavior. On the one hand, the researchers develop techniques to analyze complex interactions between humans and robots, and on the other hand, technologies for service robots. Due to demographic change, the importance of such robots is steadily increasing.

Support robots
Support robots - can be of particular help to elderly or impaired people. © Research Unit „Anticipating Human Behavior“
Download all images in original size The impression in connection with the service is free, while the image specified author is mentioned.

In recent years, there had been a tremendous progress in the capabilities of computer systems to classify image or video clips taken from the Internet or to analyze human pose in real-time for gaming applications. These systems, however, analyze the past or in the case of real-time systems the present with a delay of a few milliseconds. “For applications, where a moving system has to react or interact with humans, this is insufficient,” says Prof. Jürgen Gall, a computer scientist and the speaker of the Research Unit. “For instance, robots collaborating with humans need not only to perceive the current situation, but they need to anticipate human actions and the resulting future situations in order to plan their own actions.”

In their project, the researchers aim to develop the technology that lays the foundation for applications that require the anticipation of human behavior. Instead of addressing the problem at a limited scope, the project addresses all relevant aspects including time horizons ranging from milliseconds to hours and granularity ranging from detailed human motion to coarse action labels. “To ensure that the developed methods are not limited to a single task but can be applied for a large variety of applications, we do not solve sub-problems in isolation but address all relevant aspects jointly,” says Jürgen Gall. The goal is therefore to develop a framework that seamlessly anticipates human behavior at all levels ranging from discrete activity labels for long-term prediction to detailed human motion for short term prediction.

Increasing importance of service robots

As a scenario for an application, the researchers focus on human support robots that support impaired or elderly people at home. Human support robots can fill the gap that needs to be faced due to the demographic change that will change the population structure in Germany and other countries dramatically. However, the robots need the ability to anticipate human behavior at various levels of granularity in order to be accepted and be efficient. The robot needs to know when its help is needed, but it should not stand in the way. In a collaborative setting, the robot is expected to complete tasks together with a human. This requires to anticipate both the intention but also detailed movements, e.g., when jointly assembling an object or preparing a meal.

The Research Unit is at the intersection of the two Transdisciplinary Research Areas “Mathematics, Modelling and Simulation of Complex Systems” and “Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures” since it develops computational tools for analyzing complex interactions between humans and robots as well as methods and technology for human support robots in order to address the demographic change, which is one of the global challenges for a sustainable future. In the six Transdisciplinary Research Areas at the University of Bonn researchers from different faculties and disciplines come together to work together on research topics relevant to the future.

DFG Research Unit 2535 “Anticipating Human Behavior”: http://for2535.cv-uni-bonn.de/#/start


Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gall

University of Bonn

Department of Information Systems and Artificial Intelligence

E-mail: gall@iai.uni-bonn.de

Phone: +49 228 73 69600

Prof. Jürgen Gall (right)
Prof. Jürgen Gall (right) - and Yazan Abu Farha from the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Bonn. © Barbara Frommann/Uni Bonn
Wird geladen