Plenary Talks

September 1st
Prof. Allison Okamura

September 2nd
Prof. Alin Albu-Schäffer

September 3rd
Prof. Masahiko Inami

11:30-12:30, September 1st
Control and Interaction Design for Robot-Assisted Medical Interventions

Prof. Allison Okamura
Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Stanford University

Many medical interventions today are qualitatively and quantitatively limited by human physical and cognitive capabilities. This talk will discuss several robot-assisted intervention techniques that will extend humans’ ability to carry out interventions more accurately and less invasively. First, I will describe the development of minimally invasive systems that deliver therapy by steering needles through deformable tissue and around internal obstacles to reach specified targets. Second, I will review recent results in haptic (touch) feedback for robot-assisted teleoperated surgery, in particular the display of tissue mechanical properties. Finally, I will demonstrate the use of dynamic models of the body to drive novel rehabilitation strategies. All of these systems incorporate one or more key elements of robotic interventions: (1) quantitative descriptions of patient state, (2) the use of models to plan interventions, (3) the design of devices and control systems that connect information to physical action, and (4) the inclusion of human input in a natural way.


Allison M. Okamura received the BS degree from the University of California at Berkeley and the MS and PhD degrees from Stanford University, all in mechanical engineering. She is currently an Associate Professor in the mechanical engineering department at Stanford University, with a courtesy appointment in Computer Science. She has been an associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics, Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation Conference Editorial Board, founding Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, and co-chair of the IEEE Haptics Symposium. Her awards include the IEEE Technical Committee on Haptics Early Career Award, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Academic Career Award, and the NSF CAREER Award. She is an IEEE Fellow. Her academic interests include haptics, teleoperation, virtual environments and simulators, medical robotics, neuromechanics and rehabilitation, prosthetics, and engineering education. Outside academia, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, running, and playing ice hockey. For more information about her research, please see the Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine (CHARM) Laboratory website:


11:20-12:20, September 2nd
Designing and Controlling Robots for Direct Interaction with Humans

Prof. Alin Albu-Schäffer
Director, Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics
DLR German Aerospace Center

The talk will address several implications resulting from the paradigm of putting the humans in the center of robot design. First, assistance robots are supposed to closely interact with their human user. Therefore they need to be compatible to humans in terms of size and weight, but also regarding velocity and power. They need to be safe and compliant, able to perceive human motions and fast changing environments in real time and to also plan and execute their reactions at human compatible time scales. This poses substantial challenges in terms of hardware and algorithms design, as well as in term of system integration. I will present here the evolvement of DLR robot design and control from compliantly controlled robots with joint torque sensing to intrinsically compliant systems with variable compliance actuation. I will particularly also focus on the interplay of advanced control, planning and AI for fast and intuitive robot programming. Second, putting the human in the center of robot development also means to use robotics research in order to better understand human motion and intelligence in a synthetizing way by using the analytic tools of robotics. I will particularly highlight in this respect the interplay of biomechanics and neuro-control with robot design and advanced robotics control. Humans can also directly benefit from this research through the development of better human-machine interfaces, robotized medical procedures, and prosthetic and rehabilitation devices which will even more reduce the barrier between humans and robots in the future.


Alin Albu-Schäffer received his M.S. in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Timisoara, Romania in 1993 and his Ph.D. in automatic control from the Technical University of Munich in 2002. Since 2012 he is the head of the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which he joined in 1995 as a Ph.D. candidate. Moreover, he is a professor at the Technical University of Munich, holding the Chair for "Sensor Based Robotic Systems and Intelligent Assistance Systems" at the Computer Science Department. His personal research interests include robot design, modeling and control, nonlinear control, flexible joint and variable compliance robots, impedance and force control, physical human-robot interaction, bio-inspired robot design and control. He received several awards, including the IEEE King-Sun Fu Best Paper Award of the Transactions on Robotics in 2012 and 2014; several ICRA and IROS Best Paper Awards as well as the DLR Science Award. He was strongly involved in the development of the DLR light-weight robot and its commercialization through technology transfer to KUKA.


15:30-16:30, September 3rd
Towards Superhuman Sports

Prof. Masahiko Inami
School of Media Design
Keio University

Superhuman Sports, a form of "Human-Computer Integration” to overcome somatic and spatial limitation of humanity by merging technology with the body. In Japan, official home of the 2020 olympics and Paralympics, we hope to create a future of sports where everyone, strong or weak, young or old, abled or disabled, can play and enjoy playing without being disadvantaged. Technology empowers us to overcome the biological barriers of individuals and of our specie, so we can truly be equal athletes in the arena of super-human sports. But not to make athleticism invalid; like Circus or the extreme games, super human sports aims to push human performance into new peaks. This talk will also present our several approaches for enhancing human I/O. They include Telexistence, Optical Camouflage, Stop-Motion Goggle and Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation.


Masahiko Inami is a professor in the School of Media Design at the Keio University (KMD), Japan. His research interest is in human I/O enhancement technologies including perception, HCI and robotics. He received BE and MS degrees in bioengineering from the Tokyo Institute of Technology and PhD in 1999 from the University of Tokyo. His scientific achievements include the Retro-reflective Projection Technology (RPT) known as "Optical Camouflage," which was chosen as one of the coolest inventions of 2003 by /TIME/ magazine. His installations have appeared at Ars Electronica Center. He proposed and organized the Superhuman Sports.