Keynote Speaker


Prof. Jan Peters

Fellow of IEEE
Technische Universitaet Darmstadt, Germany

Bio: Jan Peters is a full professor (W3) for Intelligent Autonomous Systems at the Computer Science Department of the Technische Universitaet Darmstadt. Jan Peters has received the Dick Volz Best 2007 US PhD Thesis Runner-Up Award, the Robotics: Science & Systems - Early Career Spotlight, the INNS Young Investigator Award, and the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society's Early Career Award as well as numerous best paper awards. In 2015, he received an ERC Starting Grant and in 2019, he was appointed as an IEEE Fellow. Despite being a faculty member at TU Darmstadt only since 2011, Jan Peters has already nurtured a series of outstanding young researchers into successful careers. These include new faculty members at leading universities in the USA, Japan, Germany and Holland, postdoctoral scholars at top computer science departments (including MIT, CMU, and Berkeley) and young leaders at top AI companies (including Amazon, Google and Facebook). Jan Peters has studied Computer Science, Electrical, Mechanical and Control Engineering at TU Munich and FernUni Hagen in Germany, at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the University of Southern California (USC). He has received four Master's degrees in these disciplines as well as a Computer Science PhD from USC. Jan Peters has performed research in Germany at DLR, TU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (in addition to the institutions above), in Japan at the Advanced Telecommunication Research Center (ATR), at USC and at both NUS and Siemens Advanced Engineering in Singapore. He has led research groups on Machine Learning for Robotics at the Max Planck Institutes for Biological Cybernetics (2007-2010) and Intelligent Systems (2010-2021).

Robot Learning - Quo Vadis?

Abstract: Autonomous robots that can assist humans in situations of daily life have been a long standing vision of robotics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive sciences. A first step towards this goal is to create robots that can learn tasks triggered by environmental context or higher level instruction. However, learning techniques have yet to live up to this promise as only few methods manage to scale to high-dimensional manipulator or humanoid robots. In this talk, we investigate a general framework suitable for learning motor skills in robotics which is based on the principles behind many analytical robotics approaches. It involves generating a representation of motor skills by parameterized motor primitive policies acting as building blocks of movement generation, and a learned task execution module that transforms these movements into motor commands. We discuss learning on three different levels of abstraction, i.e., learning for accurate control is needed to execute, learning of motor primitives is needed to acquire simple movements, and learning of the task-dependent „hyperparameters“ of these motor primitives allows learning complex tasks. We discuss task-appropriate learning approaches for imitation learning, model learning and reinforcement learning for robots with many degrees of freedom. Empirical evaluations on a several robot systems illustrate the effectiveness and applicability to learning control on an anthropomorphic robot arm. These robot motor skills range from toy examples (e.g., paddling a ball, ball-in-a-cup, juggling) to playing robot table tennis against a human being and manipulation of various objects.


Prof. Danica Kragic

Fellow of IEEE
Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, Sweden

Bio: Danica Kragic is a Professor at the School of Computer Science and Communication at the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH. She received MSc in Mechanical Engineering from the Technical University of Rijeka, Croatia in 1995 and PhD in Computer Science from KTH in 2001. She has been a visiting researcher at Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Brown University and INRIA Rennes. She is the Director of the Centre for Autonomous Systems. Danica received the 2007 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Academic Career Award. She is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and Young Academy of Sweden. She holds a Honorary Doctorate from the Lappeenranta University of Technology. She chaired IEEE RAS Technical Committee on Computer and Robot Vision and served as an IEEE RAS AdCom member. Her research is in the area of robotics, computer vision and machine learning. She is a recipient of ERC Starting and Advanced Grants. Her research is supported by the EU, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research and Swedish Research Council. She is an IEEE Fellow.  

Robots: Perceiving, Acting and Collaborating

Abstract: The integral ability of any robot is to act in the environment, interact and collaborate with people and other robots. Interaction between two agents builds on the ability to engage in mutual prediction and signaling. Thus, human-robot interaction requires a system that can interpret and make use of human signaling strategies in a social context. In such scenarios, there is a need for an interplay between processes such as attention, segmentation, object detection, recognition and categorization in order to interact with the environment. In addition, the parameterization of these is inevitably guided by the task or the goal a robot is supposed to achieve. In this talk, I will present the current state of the art in the area of robot perception and interaction and discuss open problems in the area. I will also show how visual input can be integrated with proprioception, tactile and force-torque feedback in order to plan, guide and assess robot's action and interaction with the environment. For interaction, we employ a deep generative model that makes inferences over future human motion trajectories given the intention of the human and the history as well as the task setting of the interaction. With help predictions drawn from the model, we can determine the most likely future motion trajectory and make inferences over intentions and objects of interest.


Prof. Mengchu Zhou

Fellow of IEEE, IFAC, AAAS, CAA and NAI
New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA

Bio: MengChu Zhou received his B.S. degree in Control Engineering from Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, China in 1983, M.S. degree in Automatic Control from Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China in 1986, and Ph. D. degree in Computer and Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY in 1990. He joined New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Newark, NJ in 1990, and is now a Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research interests are in Petri nets, intelligent automation, Internet of Things, big data, web services, and intelligent transportation. He has over 800 publications including 12 books, 460+ journal papers (360+ in IEEE transactions), 12 patents and 29 book-chapters. He is the founding Editor of IEEE Press Book Series on Systems Science and Engineering and Editor-in-Chief of IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica. He is a recipient of Humboldt Research Award for US Senior Scientists from Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Franklin V. Taylor Memorial Award and the Norbert Wiener Award from IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society. He has been among most highly cited scholars for years and ranked top one in the field of engineering worldwide in 2012 by Web of Science/Thomson Reuters and now Clarivate Analytics. His work has been cited for nearly 30,000 with his H-index being 84 according to Google Scholar. He is a life member of Chinese Association for Science and Technology-USA and served as its President in 1999. He is VP for Conferences and Meetings, IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society. He is a Fellow of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Chinese Association of Automation (CAA).


Prof. Wojciech Grega

AGH University of Science and Technology, Poland

Bio: Wojciech Grega,, PhD degree in Automatic Control (1979), degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) in Automatics and Robotics (1994). Professor's title he received in 2005 from the President of Republic of Poland. Full Professor of AGH in Krakow: digital control, optimization methods, distributed control, industrial control systems, engineering education.
He held various visiting appointments: at Montreal University in Canada (1990), City University in London (1992), and positions of visiting professor in ESSTIN, Nancy, Lyon, (1996) and Embry Riddle University, Daytona Beach, USA (2000). Currently also serving as Supervisory Board Member and scientific consultant for several Polish innovative company.
He is author and co-author of more than 150 papers and 3 books. He has been coordinator or main researcher in 22 national and international projects (lately: Horizon 2020: KIC-ASS, ProInterface, EACEA: ILERT, DESIRE). Served as a member of several scientific committees, including Commission of Technical Sciences of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (2004 - 2010). He was Vice Dean of the Faculty (AGH, 1994-97); Head of the Control Laboratory at Department of Automatics and Biomedical Engineering of AGH (since 2002), Head of the Chair of Applied Computer Science in the Malopolska Higher Vocational School in Krakow (2009-2011), Executive Board Member of the European Association for Education in Electrical and Information Engineering (since 2005), KIC InnoEnergy Poland+ Educational Director (2011-15), co-editor of Measurement Automation and Monitoring Journal (PAR) and International Journal of Modeling and Optimization. In 2016-2017 and since 2018 he has been elected chairman of IEEE Control Systems Society, Polish Section.
Currently, he is serving as Supervisory Board Member and/or Scientific Consultant for several Polish innovative company (, ).
He was chairman and co-founder of several international conferences, between them Federated Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems (2011-2017). Invited plenary lecturer at prestigious international conferences, like Meeting of the Directors General of Higher Education, Dublin 2013, ERA in Action: Excellence and cohesion, Brussels 2013.


Prof. John P. T. Mo

RMIT University, School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Melbourne, Australia

Bio: John P. T. Mo is Professor of Manufacturing Engineering and former Head of Manufacturing and Materials Engineering at RMIT University, Australia, since 2007. He has been an active researcher in manufacturing and complex systems for over 35 years and worked for educational and scientific institutions in Hong Kong and Australia. From 1996, John was a Project Manager and Research Team Leader with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) for 11 years leading a team of 15 research scientists. John has a broad research interest and has received numerous industrial research grants. A few highlights of the projects include: signal diagnostics for plasma cutting machines, ANZAC ship alliance engineering analysis, optimisation of titanium machining for aerospace industry, critical infrastructure protection modelling and analysis, polycrystalline diamond cutting tools on multi-axes CNC machine, system analysis for support of complex engineering systems John obtained his doctorate from Loughborough University, UK and is a Fellow of Institution of Mechanical Engineers (UK) and Institution of Engineers Australia.