Archive 2016 PDF Print E-mail


Course of "Models and Methods for AI Planning" by Prof. Hector Geffner

Prof. Hector Geffner will give a course on "Models and methods for AI planning" at our department, starting on November 24th, 2016.

All details can be found at

Hector Geffner ( is a researcher at the Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), and a Professor at the Departament de Tecnologies de la Informació i les Comunicacions, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. Hector works on planning and plan recognition in intelligent systems, developing methods for generating and recognizing autonomous behavior automatically using model-based methods. Hector's research is relevant to both artificial intelligence and cognitive science, as it aims to uncover general principles of rational behavior that take into account the computational constraints that are present in both natural and artificial systems.

Hector Geffner is the recipient of the 1990 ACM Dissertation Award, and is best known for the heuristic search approach to planning for which he received the 2009 and 2010 ICAPS Influential Paper Awards. He is a fellow of both the American and the European Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI, ECCAI), and Associate Editor of the two top AI journals: Artificial Intelligence (AIJ), and the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research (JAIR).

More details on Hector's research can be found at

Hector's publications are listed here:

ALCOR Lab with TRADR team mission in Amatrice

ALCOR Lab, as a member of the TRADR team, has contributed to the post-earthquake response in Amatrice. Amatrice, with a population of 2640, was hit by a devastating earthquake on the 24th of August which, sadly, claimed the lives of 232 people. The TRADR team, composed of TRADR project collaborators from Sapienza University, Czech Technical University, Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems, and Ascending Technologies, was assembled on short notice and arrived at the earthquake disaster site in Amatrice within 48 hours after receiving the request for help from the Vigili del Fuoco (VVFF), Italy’s institutional agency for fire and rescue service.

The goal of the mission was to provide 3D textured models of two churches using the robotic technology developed within the project. The churches are national heritage monuments from the 14th century: San Francesco and Sant’ Agostino. Both churches are in a state of partial collapse and in need of shoring to prevent potential further destruction. The models will help to plan the shoring operations and to assess the state of various objects of cultural value inside the churches, such as valuable frescos.

The UGV of ALCOR Lab, together with the UGV of CTU, successfully entered the San Francesco church, teleoperated entirely out of line of sight, and partially in collaboration. For part of the mission the UGV of CTU provided a view of our UGV to enable maneuvering in very constrained space with low connection bandwidth. The UGVs mission in the church had a total duration of four hours.

Several flights were carried out on the outside and one flight inside of each church. Entering with a UAV was a tough challenge which was only managed due to a collaboration between three UAVs operated in parallel. While a DJI Phantom 5 UAV, kindly provided by the Department of Computer Control and Management Engineering 'A. Ruberti', entered through a hole in the roof, the two UAVs of Ascending Technologies provided simultaneoushigh quality video feed from different angles, which the pilot used as an additional source for orientation. An assistant who watched the video gave the pilot flying instructions.

The mission completely fulfilled its goal to collect data for the construction of high quality textured 3D models, which have since been provided both to the VVFF and to the Italian Ministry of Culture. The VVFF has expressed appreciation for the success of the mission, and expressed the intention to continue and further deepen collaboration.

The official press release of TRADR project is available at the following link:

The mission has been largely covered by national and international media. Some links are provided bellow:

    2/9/2016 eunews Amatrice: dall’Europa robot e droni per salvare vite umane
    2/9/2016 News Biella Amatrice, impiegati robot per il rilievo del danno sismico nelle chiese di San Francesco e Sant'Agostino
    5/9/2016 Repubblica Droni e robot nelle chiese danneggiate
    6/9/2016 Unmanned Systems Technology TRADR Robotics Project Deploys Unmanned Vehicles in Post-Earthquake Response

    The list of links from media is updated in the press section.




    TRADR UAVs ALCOR UGV inside Chiesa di San Francesco

    The deployed drones and UGVs TRADR Team

    Cognitive Robotics Workshop @ IROS 2016


    As organizers, we are glad to announce the Tenth International Cognitive Robotics Workshop (CogRob2016). This Workshop will take place at the 2016 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Daejeon, Korea.

    This workshop aims to bring together researchers involved in all aspects of the theory and implementation of cognitive robots, to discuss current work and future directions. The workshop is concerned with foundational research questions on cognitive robotics, as well as robotic system design and robotic applications that utilize AI methods.

    Research in robotics has traditionally emphasized low-level sensing and control tasks including sensory processing, path planning, and manipulator design and control. In contrast, research in cognitive robotics is concerned with endowing robots and software agents with higher level cognitive functions that enable them to reason, act and perceive in changing, incompletely known, and unpredictable environments. Such robots must, for example, be able to reason about goals, actions, when to perceive and what to look for, the cognitive states of other agents, time, collaborative task execution, etc. In short, cognitive robotics is concerned with integrating reasoning, perception and action within a uniform theoretical and implementation framework.

    The Cognitive Robotics Workshop is a prestigious workshop that has taken place every two years since its inception in 1998. For 2016 it is proposed to host a one-day workshop as part of IROS to foster stronger collaboration with the broader robotics community. This reflects an increasing focus on application areas, such as service robotics, that require the kind of sophisticated robotic capabilities associated with deliberation and high-level cognitive functions.

    More information about dates, invited talks and submission will come soon.

    euRathlon - TRADR Summer School


    As partners of the EU-FP7-ICT-Project TRADR, we are glad to announce the euRathlon/TRADR Summer School 2016 on Heterogeneity in Robotics Systems. The Summer School will take place from Monday 22nd to Friday 26th August in Oulu, Finland, at the University of Oulu. The Workshop is organized jointly with the EU Horizon 2020 EURATHLON Project.

    The summer school aims to provide the participants with both theoretical and practical insight in multi-domain real robotic systems for deployment in disaster response scenarios. The trend in this area is going towards multi-robot systems with different outfits, processing powers and operation spaces (ground, water, air) that shall be deployed over long periods and several sorties. This raises many challenges, including multi-modal heterogeneous mapping, semantic analysis and reasoning, (collaborative) planning under uncertainty. The summer school program will consist of lectures on these topics, and hands-on sessions during which the participants work on practical tasks using several robots with different sensory equipment.

    We invite submissions which focus on topics of unmanned ground, air, sea vehicles and their combination on real systems. We are stressing real applications on:
    - Learning in Complex Robotic Systems, Semantic Mapping.
    - Multi-Modal Heterogeneous Mapping.
    - (Collaborative) Planning Under Uncertainty, Integration of Mapping and Planning.

    We welcome papers from non-competitors, if they are within the scope. We encourage especially young researchers to participate. There will be the possibility to earn study credits (doctoral or basic) from the summer school. Applications should be submitted via email in PDF format to Prof Juha Röning ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). All applicants must provide a free format letter (max. 2 pages) describing their research. Papers/posters are not compulsory for attending the summer school, but participants who have submitted a paper will have priority over participants who haven not submitted one. More information are available here.

    SecondHands Project Team meeting


    The SecondHands Project Team meeting has been held on January 25-26, 2016 at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany.

    The members of ALCOR and the other partners of the project have had the opportunity to meet and present the work done since the Kick off meeting, discussing about the integration and collaboration among partners and the deliverable tasks to be achieved.

    An action plan for the first year review meeting has been decided with a detailed description of the operations that the robot must be able to perform. The partners have discussed about the most suitable planner, together with the knowledge representation, to be adopted and integrated within an improved version of the ArmarX platform, and the speech recognition system and dialog manager. The partners have argued maintenance tasks (specifically handovers requiring a detailed grasping pipeline) that the robot has to perform in collaboration with the operator and vision-based tasks for the 6D objects pose recovery, recognition and tracking.

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