Keynote Talk

Human-robot interaction and manipulation of prosthetic hand (20 May)

Prof. Bin Fang
School of Artificial Intelligence,
Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, China

Existing research on myoelectric control for prosthetic hand interaction primarily focuses on intention recognition and control strategies. The aim is to accurately decode users’ intentions through recognition algorithms and drive the prosthetic hand to execute the decoded intentions. However, further research should be dedicated to developing myoelectric control approaches for complex daily manipulation scenarios. This presentation will share the current challenges faced in prosthetic hand manipulation and discuss future research directions, with the aim of providing a novel perspective for the advancement of myoelectric control.

Human Factors in Robotics: A Multidisciplinary Journey (21 May)

Prof. Giacinto Barresi
Rehab Technologies Lab,
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Italy

The most recent achievements in robotics and artificial intelligence are disclosing transformative changes in several fields. However, although smart machines can expand our capabilities, their design can largely be improved for easing their interaction with users, who bring their skills, limitations, needs, and goals into each specific context of activity. Consequently, human-robot interaction design and evaluation require a crucial effort for approaching an impactful understanding of the user’s complexity (considering, for instance, issues in terms of sustainability, safety, and inclusion). In particular, such a complexity can be properly pondered just through a multidisciplinary perspective like the ones of human factors and ergonomics (HFE). HFE typically refers to the study of the interactions between individuals and other elements of a system for improving each person’s well-being and the system performance. Furthermore, HFE can face the physical, cognitive, and organisational challenges in human-robot systems through the knowledge and know-how of multiple domains (e.g., design, medicine, psychology, neuroscience, engineering, computer science, management, architecture, sociology, ethics), fostering interdisciplinary advances for making truly human-centred systems. HFE also offers key methods for leading co-design processes, involving end-users and all stakeholders to obtain technologies close to their expectations. This presentation will introduce such topics according to the multidisciplinary perspectives of HFE – and their implications in research, technology transfer, and market access – in human-centred robotics, with special attention to exemplary cases of neuroergonomics (employing neuroscientific methods in HFE) in healthcare and industrial settings.

Humans and Robots Working Better Together (21 May)

Dr. Crystal Fok
Head of Digital Service Hub
Hong Kong Science and Technology Park Corporation

The rapid advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence have led to an increased integration of robots into various aspects of human life, including the workforce. This topic is to explore how humans and robots working better together, focusing on the potential benefits and challenges associated with this collaborative relationship. By examining real-world examples and research findings, this abstract highlights how effective human-robot collaboration can enhance productivity, efficiency, and safety across diverse industries. Furthermore, it delves into the importance of addressing concerns such as job displacement, ethical considerations, and the need for comprehensive training and skill development to ensure a harmonious and symbiotic partnership between humans and robots.

Revolutionizing the Construction Industry by integrating Robotics and AI (22 May)

Prof. Xiaowei Luo
Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering,
City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

The construction industry has been facing significant challenges for decades, including low productivity and poor safety performance. Recent advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence offer opportunities to enhance these aspects, potentially transforming the industry’s landscape. This talk will look into the state-of-the-art robotic applications currently reshaping construction processes. We will explore the technical innovations and discuss the socio-technical barriers that must be overcome to fully leverage robotic technologies in construction settings. Additionally, the presentation will highlight recent developments and provide insights into the promising future of robotics in the construction industry.


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Invited Talks

Small-scale robots: Miniature but capable robots to revolutionize healthcare (20 May)

Dr. Jiachen Zhang is an Assistant Professor with the department of Biomedical Engineering at the City University of Hong Kong since 2021. He graduated with a Ph.D. degree from University of Toronto in 2018. After graduation, Dr. Zhang worked from 2019-2021 as a Humboldt Research Fellow at Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Germany. Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on the development of millimeter- and micrometer-scale robotic systems for biomedical applications. He utilizes magnetic field as the primary actuation and control signal for multi-functional small-scale robots. Dr. Zhang envisions that small-scale robots are ideal candidates to meet the demands posed by modern healthcare in its evolution to minimize invasiveness.

We are witnessing an exponential growth of the impact of small-scale robotics in recent years. These tiny robots have a characteristic length from several millimetres down to hundreds of nanometers. This extreme miniaturization enables these robots to access constrained space buried deep inside human body, where conventional devices couldn’t reach, and thus it dramatically benefits minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment. In particular, millimeter-scale robots are “small enough” to go inside the natural cavities and ducts of human body, while at the same time they are “big enough” to conduct relatively complex operations, such as drug delivery and biopsy. In this seminar, I will introduce my past and current research projects in small-scale robotics, and discuss my future research plans. I will talk about the design, fabrication, control, and application of these robots. Furthermore, I will discuss how this emerging field could have imminent and far-reaching positive impact on modern healthcare.

AI-Driven Sparse-View CT Reconstruction Methods and Their Application in Surgical Robots (20 May)

Xiaomeng Li is an assistant professor of Electronic and Computer Engineering at HKUST, where she also serves as the Associate Director of HKUST Centre for Medical Imaging and Analysis. Her primary focus lies in pushing the boundaries of AI to revolutionize the field of medicine. She is dedicated to developing innovative solutions that comprehend medical data, analyze intricate problems, and communicate at an advanced level. The goal is to craft AI doctors that can function autonomously or in collaboration with human physicians, thereby transforming healthcare delivery on a global scale and ensuring universal access to prompt, top-notch treatment. She has won multiple medical image analysis challenges and has received some best paper awards. Many of her innovations are widely used in tech and biotech industries.

This talk will explore latest advancements in CT reconstruction and their potential applications in surgical robotics. Firstly, I will show a new method called Deep Intensity Field for sparse-view CBCT reconstruction. Next, I will explore the C2RV (Cross Regional and Cross View) learning reconstruction method, which represents an advanced approach in this field. Lastly, I will discuss the possibilities of leveraging these medical image reconstruction methods for potential integration into surgical robots.

An Agile and Efficient Hopping Quadcopter with Synergistic Hybrid Locomotion (20 May)

Dr. Songnan Bai is currently a postdoc at the City University of Hong Kong and previously served as a visiting scientist at MIT. His research focuses on micro aerial vehicles including flight dynamics, controls and aerodynamics. He is also interested in employing intelligent mechanical designs and control strategies in robotic platforms to improve their performance, including aerodynamic efficiency, endurance, agility of movement and versatility. His results have been published in journals such as Science Robotics, IEEE Transactions on Mechatronics, and IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.

Nature abounds with examples of superior mobility through the fusion of aerial and ground movement. Drawing inspiration from such multimodal locomotion, we introduce a high-performance hybrid hopping and flying robot. The proposed robot seamlessly integrates a nano quadcopter with a passive telescopic leg. This unique design and actuation strategy enable continuous hopping locomotion. By integrating both hopping and flying locomotions, the robot is capable of intermittent midflight jumps that result in substantial instantaneous accelerations, which achieves rapid changes in flight direction by stepping on ground or even vertical walls. This offers enhanced agility and versatility. Moreover, hopping locomotion reuses the landing kinematic energy for the next hop, which notably reduces the power expenditure and increases the endurance for the robot by over three-fold. The passive leg design holds potential for direct integration with conventional rotorcraft, unlocking seamless hybrid hopping and flying locomotion.

Sustainable robotic-based additive manufacturing with continuous fiber (21 May)

Prof. Molong Duan
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China
Website: https://maal.hkust.edu.hk/

Robotic-based additive manufacturing with continuous fiber has emerged as a solution to the need for high strength and lightweight materials with tailored mechanical performance. This technology enables the creation of complex geometries with high precision and optimized mechanical performance. Continuous fibers offer high strength and stiffness, resulting in lightweight and durable products. However, challenges include the need for real-time monitoring and control to ensure consistent quality and accuracy, as well as the difficulty in recycling continuous fibers. This talk will cover the latest advancements in sustainable robotic-based additive manufacturing with continuous fiber, including the use of real-time monitoring and force feedback control, as well as the development of fiber recycling techniques.

Bioinspired soft robots for dexterous manipulation (21 May)

Prof. Rob Scharff
Division of Integratice Systems and Design
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China

Soft robots offer safety and adaptability, making them ideal for deployment near humans and in highly unstructured and delicate environments, such as for human-robot collaboration in industrial settings, active debris removal in outer space, and underwater collection of biological specimens. In this talk, I will introduce our research on the design and manufacturing of pneumatic and tendon-driven soft actuators with integrated proprioceptive and tactile sensors. Moreover, I will demonstrate how robust closed loop control of these soft robots can be realized through the adoption of remarkably simple strategies observed in biological role models such as the elephant trunk, the octopus arm, and the searcher stems of climbing plants.

Dexterous In-hand Manipulation Towards General Manipulation (21 May)

Dr. Jianshu Zhou
Research Assistant Professor
Mechanical and Automation Engineering Department,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

In the rapidly evolving field of robotics, dexterous hands are crucial for facilitating interactions between robots and their surroundings, including environments and humans. The advancements in dexterous hand technology have significant implications for embodied intelligence and humanoid robotics. With ongoing progress in dexterous hand development, humanoid robots are acquiring operational capabilities that closely mimic those of humans, potentially leading to the replacement of human labor in sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, and services. However, achieving in-hand manipulation capabilities comparable to those of human hands remains a formidable challenge. This talk will highlight recent advancements of the speaker in dexterous in-hand manipulation, achieved through innovative hand structure design, novel actuation methods, and specialized control strategies. These advancements enable robot hands to perform in-hand manipulation tasks on par with human hands, offering promising opportunities for enhancing robotic general manipulation capabilities.