Keynote Talks


The following plenary talks will be held at Mechatronics 2019 and Nolcos 2019.

Machine learning for robots to think fast in the face of unexpected events

Speaker: Aude BILLARD, Full Professor, School of Engineering, EPFL
Aude Billard
The next generation of robots will soon get out of the secure and predictable environment of factories and will face the complexity and unpredictability of our daily environments. To avoid that robots fail lamely at the task they are programmed to do, robots will need to adapt on the go. I will present techniques from machine learning to allow robots to learn strategies to enable them to react rapidly and efficiently to changes in the environment. Learning the set of feasible solutions will be preferred over learning optimal controllers. I will review methods we have developed to allow instantaneous reactions to perturbation, leveraging on the multiplicity of feasible solutions. I will present applications of these methods for compliant control during human-robot collaborative tasks and for performing fast motion, such as catching flying objects.
Aude Billard is full professor and head of the LASA laboratory at the School of Engineering at the Swiss Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL). She was a faculty member at the University of Southern California, prior to joining EPFL in 2003. She holds a B.Sc and M.Sc. in Physics from EPFL (1995) and a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence (1998) from the University of Edinburgh. She was the recipient of the Intel Corporation Teaching award, the Swiss National Science Foundation career award in 2002, the Outstanding Young Person in Science and Innovation from the Swiss Chamber of Commerce and the IEEE-RAS Best Reviewer Award. Her research spans the fields of machine learning and robotics with a particular emphasis on learning from sparse data and performing fast and robust retrieval. Her work finds application to robotics, human-robot / human-computer interaction and computational neuroscience. This research received best paper awards from IEEE T-RO, RSS, ICRA, IROS, Humanoids and ROMAN and was featured in premier venues (BBC, IEEE Spectrum, Wired).


Lyapunov-based Reset Control

Speaker: Luca ZACCARIAN, Directeur de Recherche at the LAAS-CNRS, Toulouse and associate professor at the University of Trento
Luca Zaccarian
More than 50 years ago, J.C. Clegg proposed a modified version of the analog integrator introducing suitable state resets and showing improved performance in terms of phase lag, at least as seen from a describing function analysis of the intricate nonlinear phenomenon behind state resets. With certain modern tools arising from recent hybrid dynamical systems representations, it is now possible to revisit that strategy, provide Lyapunov-based (therefore robust) guarantees of its stability and performance, and reach beyond stable linear filters involving resets. This talk covers 15 years of research activity within this framework, emphasizing the advantages and the challenges. A number of reset control strategies, stemming from generalizations of the original paradigm of Clegg, will be discussed. Among other things, we will emphasize the suggestive idea of homogeneous closed loops with reset controllers whose solutions converge exponentially to zero by way of exponentially unstable branches. The talk will be mostly focused on stabilization, but will hopefully also touch upon set-point regulation and reference tracking. Theoretical results will be discussed, together with some experimental and industrial validations within the automotive field.
Luca Zaccarian received the Laurea and the Ph.D. degrees from the University of Roma Tor Vergata (Italy) in 1995 and 2000, respectively. He has been Assistant Professor in control engineering at the University of Roma, Tor Vergata (Italy), from 2000 to 2006 and then Associate Professor. Since 2011 he is Directeur de Recherche at the LAAS-CNRS, Toulouse (France) and since 2013 he holds a part-time associate professor position at the University of Trento, Italy. Luca Zaccarian’s main research interests include analysis and design of nonlinear and hybrid control systems, modeling and control of mechatronic systems. He has served in the organizing committee and TPC of several IEEE and IFAC conferences. He has been a member of the IEEE-CSS Conference Editorial Board and an associate editor for Systems and Control Letters and IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control. He is currently a member of the EUCA-CEB and an associate editor for the IFAC journal Automatica. He was a nominated member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE-CSS in 2014, where he is an elected member in 2017-2019. He was Student Activities Chair for the IEEE-CSS in 2015–2017 and is currently Associate Editor of Electronic Publications (Conference Information) for the IEEE-CSS. He was a recipient of the 2001 O. Hugo Schuck Best Paper Award given by the American Automatic Control Council. He is a fellow of the IEEE, class of 2016.
Copyright picture Luca Zaccarian: Chiara Moiraghi


Dante and the Construction of Hell

Speaker: Sebastian SCHÜTZE, Professor of Art History the University of Vienna
Sebastian Schütze Abstract:
Throughout the ages hell has been a central theological concept as well as a hugely emotional concern of popular culture. But how do we imagine in concrete terms such place in the underworld where damned souls suffer for their sins committed during lifetime? At least in the western hemisphere, the imagination of hell has been largely dominated by the poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) and his detailed account in the “Divine Comedy”. According to Dante, hell consists of a deep pit with nine consecutive circles, which accommodate different types of sinners afflicted by appropriate punishments. Based on Dante’s description scholars and scientists like Galileo Galilei, but also artists, architects and engineers have attempted to map the geography of hell and to come up with ever more precise reconstructions. The lecture explores Dante’s impact on our collective imagination and the constructive principles of hell, a kind of system analysis over seven centuries.
Sebastian Schütze is Professor of Art History and Dean of the Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies at the University of Vienna and member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Before joining the University of Vienna in 2009 he has been a long-term research fellow at the Bibliotheca Hertziana (Max-Planck-Institute for Art History) in Rome, has taught at the Universities of Münster, Leipzig and Dresden and as Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art at Queen’s University in Canada. His research interests focus on Italian baroque art and art patronage as well as on processes of exchange and dialogue between figurative arts and poetry from Dante, Petrarch and Tasso to Stefan George, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Friedrich Nietzsche. He has published widely on Caravaggio, Poussin and Bernini, on the Vatican Basilica and its decorations, on the art patronage of Pope Urban VIII and on the Dante drawings of William Blake, and has curated international exhibitions such as “Bernini the Sculptor” (Rome, Villa Borghese), “Caravaggio and his Followers in Rome” (Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada), “The Divine Michelangelo” (Bonn, Bundeskunsthalle), “Bernini. The Inventor of Baroque Rome” (Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste) and, most recently, „Nietzsche and the Artists of the New Weimar” (Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada).
Copyright picture Sebastian Schütze: Barbara Mair