All posts by apwalker

ULTRACEPT Researchers Attend IEEE ICARM 2020 Conference

The IEEE International Conference on Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics (ICARM) 2020 was held in Shenzhen, China, and attended by three University of Lincoln’s (UoL) ULTRACEPT researchers; Dr Qinbing Fu, Xuelong Sun, and Tian Liu. These researchers completed 12 month ULTRACEPT secondments with project partner Guangzhou University (GZHU) in China.

Tian Liu, Qinbing Fu, and Xuelong Sun attend IEEE ARM 2020 Conference
L to R: Tian Liu, Qinbing Fu, and Xuelong Sun attend IEEE ARM 2020 Conference

The IEEE ARM Conference took place between the 18th and 21st December 2020 and is the flagship conference on bio-mechatronics and bio-robotics systems as well as neuro-robotics systems. The conference provides an international forum for researchers, educators, engineers in general areas of mechatronics, robotics, automation, and sensors to disseminate their latest research results and exchange views on the future research directions of these fields.

The UoL researchers attended to promote their publications produced as part of both the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreements STEP2DYNA (691154) and ULTRACEPT (778062) project.

Dr Qinbing Fu: Complementary Visual Neuronal Systems Model for Collision Sensing

Dr Qinbing Fu presented his research paper entitled “Complementary Visual Neuronal Systems Model for Collision Sensing” which was included in the conference proceedings on Monday morning. Dr Fu was also the chair of MoSHT3 Regular Session, based on the topic of Biomimetics.

Qinbing Fu presents his research at the IEEE ARM 2020 Conference
Qinbing Fu presents his research at the IEEE ARM 2020 Conference

Q. Fu and S. Yue, “Complementary Visual Neuronal Systems Model for Collision Sensing,” 2020 5th International Conference on Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics (ICARM), Shenzhen, China, 2020, pp. 609-615, doi: 10.1109/ICARM49381.2020.9195303.

Abstract – Inspired by insects’ visual brains, this paper presents original modelling of a complementary visual neuronal systems model for real-time and robust collision sensing. Two categories of wide-field motion sensitive neurons, i.e., the lobula giant movement detectors (LGMDs) in locusts and the lobula plate tangential cells (LPTCs) in flies, have been studied, intensively. The LGMDs have specific selectivity to approaching objects in depth that threaten collision; whilst the LPTCs are only sensitive to translating objects in horizontal and vertical directions. Though each has been modelled and applied in various visual scenes including robot scenarios, little has been done on investigating their complementary functionality and selectivity when functioning together. To fill this vacancy, we introduce a hybrid model combining two LGMDs (LGMD-1 and LGMD-2) with horizontally (rightward and leftward) sensitive LPTCs (LPTC-R and LPTC-L) specialising in fast collision perception. With coordination and competition between different activated neurons, the proximity feature by frontal approaching stimuli can be largely sharpened up by suppressing translating and receding motions. The proposed method has been implemented in ground micro-mobile robots as embedded systems. The multi-robot experiments have demonstrated the effectiveness and robustness of the proposed model for frontal collision sensing, which outperforms previous single-type neuron computation methods against translating interference.

Qinbing Fu presents his research at the IEEE ARM 2020 Conference
Dr Qinbing Fu presents his research at the IEEE ARM 2020 Conference

When asked about the conference experience Dr Fu said;

2020 has been a very tough year for everyone around the world. The pandemic has absolutely affected people’s lives. As an academic researcher, it has become more difficult to exchange ideas closely with other colleagues. Almost all of the academic conferences across every discipline has moved to on-line presenting. This has made it challenging to disseminate research and exchange ideas.

China was suffering from the pandemic in early 2020. However, due to its successful control of COVID-19, after June 2020 most parts of life, including work, had returned to normal. As a result, the conference was successfully held in person as originally planned, although international guests were not able to attend due to travel restrictions.

The conference attendees appreciated how well the conference was organised in Shenzhen. Personally, I very much enjoyed attending this conference. Due to travel restrictions, it was not a large conference, but every detail was considered and arranged properly. There were many enjoyable moments and I learnt alot. The plenary presentations were very high quality. Another special, memorable experience for me was the opportunity to chair a session for the first time during the conference. It was awesome!

Xuelong Sun: Fabrication and Mechanical Analysis of Bioinspired Gliding-optimized Wing Prototypes for Micro Aerial Vehicles

Xuelong Sun presented his co-authored paper ‘Fabrication and Mechanical Analysis of Bioinspired Gliding-optimized Wing Prototypes for Micro Aerial Vehicles‘ as lead author, Huatian Isakhani, was unable to attend due to travel restrictions. Their paper was awarded Best Conference Paper Finalist.

Best conference paper finalist at the IEEE ARM 2020 Conference
Best conference paper finalist at the IEEE ARM 2020 Conference

H. Isakhani, S. Yue, C. Xiong, W. Chen, X. Sun and T. Liu, “Fabrication and Mechanical Analysis of Bioinspired Gliding-optimized Wing Prototypes for Micro Aerial Vehicles,” 2020 5th International Conference on Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics (ICARM), Shenzhen, China, 2020, pp. 602-608, doi: 10.1109/ICARM49381.2020.9195392.

Abstract – Gliding is the most efficient flight mode that is explicitly appreciated by natural fliers. This is achieved by high-performance structures developed over millions of years of evolution. One such prehistoric insect, locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a perfect example of a natural glider capable of endured transatlantic flights, which could potentially inspire numerous solutions to the problems in aerospace engineering. However, biomimicry of such aerodynamic properties is hindered by the limitations of conventional as well as modern fabrication technologies in terms of precision and availability, respectively. Therefore, we explore and propose novel combinations of economical manufacturing methods to develop various locust-inspired tandem wing prototypes (i.e. fore and hindwings), for further wind tunnel based aerodynamic studies. Additionally, we determine the flexural stiffness and maximum deformation rate of our prototypes and compare it to their counterparts in nature and literature, recommending the most suitable artificial bioinspired wing for gliding micro aerial vehicle applications.

Xuelong Sun presents his research at the IEEE ARM 2020 Conference
Xuelong Sun presents his research at the IEEE ARM 2020 Conference

When asked about the conference Xuelong said;

This has been a fantastic conference, although we are getting through this special year. The keynote speakers delivered very impressive talks concerning Controlling System, AI, and robotics, which offered great food for thought. I was very pleased that our paper was shortlisted for the BEST STUDENTS PAPER AWARD.

In my presentation, I reported on the work we have completed on manufactured bio-inspired wings for future flying robots which mimick locust. We emphasised that the methods applied are affordable, and that the manufactured wings feature high flexibility and rigidity. Although we didn’t win the award, we were finalist, which has encouraged us to keep moving forward with our future research.

Tian Liu: Investigating Multiple Pheromones in Swarm Robots – A Case Study of Multi-Robot Deployment

Tian Lu presented his paper ‘Investigating Multiple Pheromones in Swarm Robots – A Case Study of Multi-Robot Deployment.’

T. Liu, X. Sun, C. Hu, Q. Fu, H. Isakhani and S. Yue, “Investigating Multiple Pheromones in Swarm Robots – A Case Study of Multi-Robot Deployment,” 2020 5th International Conference on Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics (ICARM), Shenzhen, China, 2020, pp. 595-601, doi: 10.1109/ICARM49381.2020.9195311

Abstract – Social insects are known as the experts in handling complex task in a collective smart way although their small brains contain only limited computation resources and sensory information. It is believed that pheromones play a vital role in shaping social insects’ collective behaviours. One of the key points underlying the stigmergy is the combination of different pheromones in a specific task. In the swarm intelligence field, pheromone inspired studies usually focus one single pheromone at a time, so it is not clear how effectively multiple pheromones could be employed for a collective strategy in the real physical world. In this study, we investigate multiple pheromone-based deployment strategy for swarm robots inspired by social insects. The proposed deployment strategy uses two kinds of artificial pheromones; the attractive and the repellent pheromone that enables micro robots to be distributed in desired positions with high efficiency. The strategy is assessed systematically by both simulation and real robot experiments using a novel artificial pheromone platform ColCOSΦ. Results from the simulation and real robot experiments both demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed strategy and reveal the role of multiple pheromones. The feasibility of the ColCOSΦ platform, and its potential for further robotic research on multiple pheromones are also verified. Our study of using different pheromones for one collective swarm robotics task may help or inspire biologists in real insects’ research.

Tian Liu presents his research at the IEEE ARM 2020 Conference
Tian Liu presents his research at the IEEE ARM 2020 Conference

When asked about the conference Tian Lu said;

In the pandemic of COVID-19, this conference is a rare opportunity to listen to the keynote speakers presentations about control, artificial intelligence, and bioinspiration psychically. I also presented my own research about multiple pheromones and experiment system ColCOSΦ, and had a friendly exchange with scholars in related fields. I believe this conference has enabled more people to learn about our research progress and results.

Siavash Bahrami presents at ICIMT 2020

Siavash Bahrami is a PhD candidate at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), who is working on multimodal deep neural networks using acoustic and visual data for developing an active road safety system intended for autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. As part of the ULTRACEPT project working on work package 2, Siavash recently completed a 6 month secondment at the University of Lincoln and another at Visomorphic LTD.

Siavash Bahrami presents at ICIMT 2020
Siavash presenting at ICIMT 2020

Recently Siavash presented a paper titled “Acoustic Feature Analysis for Wet and Dry Road Surface Classification Using Two-stream CNN” during the 12th International Conference on Information and Multimedia Technology (ICIMT 2020). The data utilised for training and testing the proposed CNN architectures were collected during Siavash’s secondment in the UK. Despite the strains caused by the global pandemic Siavash managed to complete his secondment and collect all the data that was needed for his PhD thesis and the ULTRACEPT project with the help of UoL and UPM project members.

Siavash Bahrami presents at ICIMT 2020
Siavash presenting at ICIMT 2020

ICIMT 2020 was scheduled to take place between 11th and 13th December 2020 in Zhuhai, China, but due to the pandemic it was instead held as a virtual conference. The aim of ICIMT is to provide a platform for researchers, engineers, academics and industrial professionals from all over the world to present their research results and development activities in Information and Multimedia Technology. This conference provides opportunity for delegates to exchange new ideas and applications to establish business or research relations and to find global partners for future collaboration.

Professor Shigang Yue (ULTRACEPT Project Coordinator) and Associate Professor Dr. Shyamala Doraisamy (ULTRACEPT Project partner Lead for UPM) each chaired one of the conference sessions.

Siavash Bahrami presents at ICIMT 2020
Siavash presentation at ICIMT 2020

Acoustic Feature Analysis for Wet and Dry Road Surface Classification Using Two-stream CNN – Abstract

Road surface wetness affects road safety and is one of the main reasons for weather-related accidents. Study on road surface classification is not only vital for future driverless vehicles but also important to the development of current vehicle active safety systems. In recent years, studies on road surface wetness classification using acoustic signals have been on the rise. Detection of road surface wetness from acoustic signals involve analysis of signal changes over time and frequency-domain caused by interaction of the tyre and the wet road surface to determine the suitable features. In this paper, two single stream CNN architectures have been investigated. The first architecture uses MFCCs and the other uses temporal and spectral features as the input for road surface wetness detection. A two-stream CNN architecture that merges the MFCCs and spectral feature sets by concatenating the outputs of the two streams is proposed for further improving classification performance of road surface wetness detection. Acoustic signals of wet and dry road surface conditions were recorded with two microphones instrumented on two different cars in a controlled environment. Experimentation and comparative performance evaluations against single stream architectures and the two-stream architecture were performed. Results shows that the accuracy performance of the proposed two-stream CNN architecture is significantly higher compared to single stream CNN for road surface wetness detection.

The team at UPM recording road sounds
The team at UPM recording road sounds

Read more about Siavash’s ULTRACEPT work in his blog post here.

Nikolas Andreakos Presents Paper in 13th International Conference on Brain Informatics (BI2020)

Nikolas Andreakos is a PhD candidate at the University of Lincoln, who is working on developing computational models of associative memory formation and recognition in the mammalian hippocampus.

Recently Nikolas attended the 13th International Conference on Brain Informatics (BI2020). Due to the current travel restrictions, this year’s conference, which was scheduled to take place on 19th September 2020 in Padova, Italy, was moved online.

13th International Conference on Brain Informatics (BI 2020)

About Brain Informatics 2020

The Brain Informatics (BI) conference series has established itself as the world’s premier research forum on Brain Informatics, which is an emerging interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research field with joint efforts from neuroscience, cognitive science, medicine and life sciences, data science, artificial intelligence, neuroimaging technologies, and information and communication technologies.

The 13th International Conference on Brain Informatics (BI2020) provided a premier international forum to bring together researchers and practitioners from diverse fields for presentation of original research results, as well as exchange and dissemination of innovative and practical development experiences on Brain Informatics research, brain-inspired technologies and brain/mental health applications.

The theme of BI2020 was: Brain Informatics in the Virtual World.

The BI2020 solicits high-quality original research and application papers (both full paper and abstract submissions). Relevant topics included but were not limited to:

  • Track 1: Cognitive and Computational Foundations of Brain Science
  • Track 2: Human Information Processing Systems
  • Track 3: Brain Big Data Analytics, Curation and Management
  • Track 4: Informatics Paradigms for Brain and Mental Health Research
  • Track 5: Brain-Machine Intelligence and Brain-Inspired Computing

Nikolas presented his research Andreakos N., Yue S., Cutsuridis V. (2020) Recall Performance Improvement in a Bio-Inspired Model of the Mammalian Hippocampus. In: Mahmud M., Vassanelli S., Kaiser M.S., Zhong N. (eds) Brain Informatics. BI 2020. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 12241. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-59277-6_29.

Nikolas Andreakos Presents Paper in 13th International Conference on Brain Informatics (BI 2020) Nikolas Andreakos Presents Paper in 13th International Conference on Brain Informatics (BI 2020)

Abstract

Mammalian hippocampus is involved in short-term formation of declarative memories. We employed a bio-inspired neural model of hippocampal CA1 region consisting of a zoo of excitatory and inhibitory cells. Cells’ firing was timed to a theta oscillation paced by two distinct neuronal populations exhibiting highly regular bursting activity, one tightly coupled to the trough and the other to the peak of theta. To systematically evaluate the model’s recall performance against number of stored patterns, overlaps and ‘active cells per pattern’, its cells were driven by a non-specific excitatory input to their dendrites. This excitatory input to model excitatory cells provided context and timing information for retrieval of previously stored memory patterns. Inhibition to excitatory cells’ dendrites acted as a non-specific global threshold machine that removed spurious activity during recall. Out of the three models tested, ‘model 1’ recall quality was excellent across all conditions. ‘Model 2’ recall was the worst. The number of ‘active cells per pattern’ had a massive effect on network recall quality regardless of how many patterns were stored in it. As ‘active cells per pattern’ decreased, network’s memory capacity increased, interference effects between stored patterns decreased, and recall quality improved. Key finding was that increased firing rate of an inhibitory cell inhibiting a network of excitatory cells has a better success at removing spurious activity at the network level and improving recall quality than increasing the synaptic strength of the same inhibitory cell inhibiting the same network of excitatory cells, while keeping its firing rate fixed.

Nikolas Andreakos Presents Paper in 13th International Conference on Brain Informatics (BI 2020)

When asked about his experience, Nikolas said:

“I really enjoyed the conference and learned a lot. It was a valuable and absorbing experience for me. The atmosphere was friendly. I shared my research and my experience with other attendants, and exchange ideas which would help me to improve my existing work”.

Nikolas Andreakos Presents a Poster in the 9th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 2020

Nikolas Andreakos is a PhD candidate at the University of Lincoln who is working on developing computational models of associative memory formation and recognition in the mammalian hippocampus.

Recently, Nikolas attended the 9th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, Living Machines 2020 (LM2020). This year’s conference which was scheduled to take place between 28th and 30th July 2020 in Freiburg, Germany, but due to the current situation around Covid-19, it was moved online.9th international conference on biomimetic and biohybrid systems 2020

Andreakos N., Yue S., Cutsuridis V. (2020) Improving Recall in an Associative Neural Network Model of the Hippocampus. In: Vouloutsi V., Mura A., Tauber F., Speck T., Prescott T.J., Verschure P.F.M.J. (eds) Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems. Living Machines 2020. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 12413. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-64313-3_1

ABOUT LIVING MACHINES 2020

The development of future real-world technologies will depend strongly on our understanding and harnessing of the principles underlying living systems and the flow of communication signals between living and artificial systems.

Biomimetics is the development of novel technologies through the distillation of principles from the study of biological systems. The investigation of biomimetic systems can serve two complementary goals. First, a suitably designed and configured biomimetic artefact can be used to test theories about the natural system of interest. Second, biomimetic technologies can provide useful, elegant and efficient solutions to unsolved challenges in science and engineering.

Biohybrid systems are formed by combining at least one biological component—an existing living system—and at least one artificial, newly-engineered component. By passing information in one or both directions, such a system forms a new hybrid bio-artificial entity. The theme of the conference also encompasses biomimetic methods for manufacture, repair and recycling inspired by natural processes such as reproduction, digestion, morphogenesis andmetamorphosis.

The following are some examples of “Living Machines” as featured at past conferences:

  • Biomimetic robots and their component technologies (sensors, actuators, processors) that can intelligently interact with their environments.
  • Biomimetic computers neuromimetic emulations of the physiological basis for intelligent behaviour.
  • Active biomimetic materials and structures that self-organise and self-repair or show other bio-inspired functions.
  • Nature inspired designs and manufacturing processes.
  • Biohybrid brain-machine interfaces and neural implants.
  • Artificial organs and body-parts including sensory organ-chip hybrids and intelligent prostheses.
  • Organism-level biohybrids such as robot-animal or robot-human systems.

Nikolas presented his research Improving recall in an associative neural network model of the hippocampus.

Accepted papers 9th international conference on biomimetic and biohybrid systems 2020

Living Machines 2020 presentation

Living Machines 2020 presentation

Abstract

The mammalian hippocampus is involved in auto-association and hetero-association of declarative memories. We employed a bio-inspired neural model of hippocampal CA1 region to systematically evaluate its mean recall quality against different number of stored patterns, overlaps and active cells per pattern. Model consisted of excitatory (pyramidal cells) and four types of inhibitory cells: axo-axonic, basket, bistratified, and oriens lacunosum-moleculare cells. Cells were simplified compartmental models with complex ion channel dynamics. Cells’ firing was timed to a theta oscillation paced by two distinct neuronal populations exhibiting highly regular bursting activity, one tightly coupled to the trough and the other to the peak of theta. During recall excitatory input to network excitatory cells provided context and timing information for retrieval of previously stored memory patterns. Dendritic inhibition acted as a non-specific global threshold machine that removed spurious activity during recall. Simulations showed recall quality improved when the network’s memory capacity increased as the number of active cells per pattern decreased. Furthermore, increased firing rate of a presynaptic inhibitory threshold machine inhibiting a network of postsynaptic excitatory cells has a better success at removing spurious activity at the network level and improving recall quality than increased synaptic efficacy of the same threshold machine on the same network of excitatory cells, while keeping its firing rate fixed.

Nikolas Andreakos attending the 9th international conference on biomimetic and biohybrid systems 2020
Nikolas Andreakos attending the 9th international conference on biomimetic and biohybrid systems 2020

Xuelong Sun completes 12 month secondment at Guangzhou University

Xuelong Sun enrolled as a PhD Scholar at the University of Lincoln in 2016. In 2017-18 he visited Tsinghua University, China as part of the STEP2DYNA project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under the Marie Skolodowska-Curie grant agreement. During the secondment, Xuelong revisited the classical ring attractor model and demonstrated its application of bio-plausible optimal cue integration of directional cues. More recently, Xuelong completed a 12 month secondment with Guangzhou University under the ULTRACEPT project.

Xuelong Sun recently completed a 12 month secondment at project partner Guangzhou University in China as part of the ULTRACEPT project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under the Marie Skolodowska-Curie grant agreement. Xuelongvisited Guangzhou from January 2019 to March 2019, then again from July 2019 to May 2020. Xuelong has been involved in Work Package 1 and 3.

Xuelong reflects on what he has achieved during his time in Guangzhou

Solving problems by taking inspiration from animals (so-called bio-inspired solutions) is one of the core ideas of our group-computational intelligence lab (CIL). As for me, insects are my best friend because of their amazing ability to use navigation and efficient collaboration to solve complex problems.

During this ten-month secondment, I continued my previous modeling work of insect navigation systems and have made great progress, by not only reproducing the main observed behavioural data of real insects, but also mapping specific computation to corresponding brain regions of the insects. We are making great contributions to the insect navigation community.

Reproducing the main observed behavioural data of real insects and also mapping specific computation to corresponding brain regions of the insects
Reproducing the main observed behavioural data of real insects and also mapping specific computation to corresponding brain regions of the insects

The paper presenting this work has been submited to eLife during the secondment (Dec 2019) and then has been accepted and published- A decentralised neural model explaining optimal integration of navigational strategies in insects. I also attended the online conference Neuronmatch Conference in March 2020 to present this work.

Neuromatch conference agenda Mar 20
Xuelong Sun’s online presentation Neuromatch conference Mar 20

As part of my researching interests cooperating with fellow ULTRACEPT researcher Tian Liu, we developed a platform called ColCOSՓ for social insects and swarm robotic researching. This platform consists of three parts, the arena (LED screen), the monitoring camera, and the micro-robot. Swarm robotic and social insects related experimental scenarios can be easily and flexibly conducted in this platform. Fellow ULTRACEPT researcher Dr Cheng Hu and I presented the platform physically at Guangdong (Foshan) Doctoral and Postdoctoral Talent Exchange and Technology Project Matchmaking Conference.

Xuelong Sun at the Guangdong Doctoral and Postdoctoral Talent Exchange and Technology Project Matchmaking Conference
Xuelong Sun at the Guangdong Doctoral and Postdoctoral Talent Exchange and Technology Project Matchmaking Conference

Another interesting experiment undertaken during my secondment is that we investigated the performance of LGMD model of collision avoidance in the context of city traffic. The real-world vehicle critical conditions always consist of severe crashes which are impractical to be replicated for experimenting, so we implemented the experiment on ColCOSՓ.

Investigating the performance of LGMD model of collision avoidance in the context of city traffic
Investigating the performance of LGMD model of collision avoidance in the context of city traffic
Investigating the performance of LGMD model of collision avoidance in the context of city traffic
Investigating the performance of LGMD model of collision avoidance in the context of city traffic

I co-authored a paper presenting the interesting results of this experiments and submitted it to Frontiers in Robotics and AI during the secondment in February 2020.

Besides this, I also attended the Convention on Exchange of Overseas Talent (OCS2020) and interviewed by Guangzhou TV. In the interview, I said that as a PhD that obtained the degree from abroad, what kind of career I want and what kind of support should be provided by the government.

Xuelong Sun attending the Convention on Exchange of Overseas Talent (OCS2020) and interviewed by Guangzhou TV
Xuelong Sun attending the Convention on Exchange of Overseas Talent (OCS2020) and interviewed by Guangzhou TV

See Xuelong being interviewed at the 1:32 mark:

I had a really great experience with my colleagues during the secondment.

Thank you for the support from the ULTRACEPT project which supported my secondment which benefited me a lot.

Fang Lei attends IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence 2020

Fang Lei is a PhD Scholar at the University of Lincoln who is currently carrying out a 12 month ULTRACEPT secondment at project partner Guangzhou University, China. Fang is involved with Work Packages 1 & 2.

Fang Lei attended the IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence (WCCI) 2020. Originally due to take place in Glasgow between 19th and 24th July 2020, the conference was moved online due to Covid-19.

The WCCI is the world’s largest technical event on computational intelligence and features three conferences from the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (CIS), the 2020 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN 2020), the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Fuzzy Systems (FUZZ-IEEE 2020), and the 2020 IEEE Conference on Evolutionary Computation (IEEE CEC 2020).

IEEE WCCI 2020 covered topics in the field of neural networks, from biological networks to artificial computation and was attended by more than 2,350 record attendees from over 75 countries. The event schedule included:

  • Public lecture by Yoshua Bengio on the topic of artificial neural networks and deep learning 2.0
  • 4 Plenary Speeches by world-renowned scholars: Barbara Hammer, Kay Chen Tan, Carlos Coello Coello, and Jim Bezdek
  • 15 Keynotes by top-notch researchers, 5 per Conference
  • 4 cutting-edge Panel sessions
  • 36 Tutorials
  • 10 Workshops
  • 170 Special Sessions including 61 for IJCNN, 42 For IEEE CEC, 37 For FUZZ-IEEE, and 30 Cross-Disciplinary sessions
  • 13 Challenging and contemporary competitions

Fang Lei presented her research Competition between ON and OFF Neural Pathways Enhancing Collision Selectivity which has been published by the IEEE:

F. Lei, Z. Peng, V. Cutsuridis, M. Liu, Y. Zhang and S. Yue, “Competition between ON and OFF Neural Pathways Enhancing Collision Selectivity,” 2020 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN), Glasgow, United Kingdom, 2020, pp. 1-8, doi: 10.1109/IJCNN48605.2020.9207131.

Fang Lei attends IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence 2020

 

Abstract

The LGMD1 neuron of locusts shows strong looming-sensitive property for both light and dark objects. Although a few LGMD1 models have been proposed, they are not reliable to inhibit the translating motion under certain conditions compare to the biological LGMD1 in the locust. To address this issue, we propose a bio-plausible model to enhance the collision-selectivity by inhibiting the translating motion. The proposed model contains three parts, the retina to lamina layer for receiving luminance change signals, the lamina to medulla layer for extracting motion cues via ON and OFF pathways separately, the medulla to lobula layer for eliminating translational excitation with neural competition. We tested the model by synthetic stimuli and real physical stimuli. The experimental results demonstrate that the proposed LGMD1 model has a strong preference for objects in direct collision course-it can detect looming objects in different conditions while completely ignoring translating objects.

Fang Lei attends IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence 2020

When asked about her experience of the conference, Fang Lei said…

“Although I hoped to attend the conference physically, I was still excited as it was my first time attending the international conference. It started at midnight in China due to the time difference but I was eager to share my research with academic peers and share this experience with them.

I was asked to present at the conference and did so via a pre-uploaded video. I presented within the visual system session of IJCNN regular sessions. The presentation went very smoothly and we discussed problems with presenting papers by asking and answering questions.

I found the conference to be an interesting and meaningful experience for me. It was good to be able to spread our work to peers and gain knowledge of the work others are doing. The only thing I wish was that the conference was face-to-face.”

Fang Lei attends IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence 2020

Jiannan Zhao completes 12 month secondment in China

Jiannan Zhao enrolled as a PhD Scholar at the University of Lincoln in 2016. In 2017-18 he visited Tsinghua University as part of the STEP2DYNA project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skolodowska-Curie grant agreement. During this secondment Jiannan developed the first generation of “locust-inspired collision detector for UAV” and demonstrated real flight with the bio-inspired algorithm on embedded system.

Jiannan has just completed his second 12 month secondment at the Guangzhou University in China as part of the ULTRACEPT project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skolodowska-Curie grant agreement. He has been involved in Work Package 1 and 4.

The ultimate objective of my PhD research has been to develop an automatic UAV platform with bio-inspired collision avoidance system. The aim of my secondment to Guangzhou University was to realise agile autonomous UAV flight based on LGMD collision detector.

During my secondment I analysed the challenges during 3D movement of the UAV flight and modelled a novel neural network to overcome these challenges.

The existing algorithms were inadequate for flight scenes. To fully achieve flexible automatic flight the algorithms needed to be enhanced to ensure they were robust against dynamic background noise. During my secondment to Guangzhou University I worked on modelling a robust and efficient locust-inspired algorithm for collision detection. Based on distributed presynaptic interconnections, I have developed a novel model appropriate for agile UAV flight, which can easily filter out insignificant visual cues by discriminating the angular velocity of images.

This model is robust for detecting near range emergent collision in dynamic backgrounds as demonstrated in the following video:

In the next phase of my research, the computational algorithm will be transplanted to embedded systems to achieve efficient automatic flight.

During my secondment I successfully submitted a paper to IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics in July 2020, titled ‘Enhancing LGMD’s Looming Selectivity for UAV Agile Flights with Spatial-temporal Distributed Presynaptic Connections’.

I also joined a group of four Tsinghua University robotic students and competed in the first International Competition for Autonomous Running Intelligent Robots in Beijing. We successfully competed against 32 other teams to take first prize. Read more about the competition here.

These Marie Sklodowska-Curie secondments have provided me access to facilities and recording equipment needed for setting up the UAV platform. Moreover, the weekly meetings with other colleagues of the project has broaden my sights and boosted my research skills.

 

Ubiquitous Robots 2020 Conference, Kyoto Japan

University of Lincoln researcher Hamid Isakhani returned to China to continue his ULTRACEPT secondment at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in June of 2020. Due to the unprecedented Covid situation, Hamid was required to quarantine for 14 days in the Guangu Hotel. During this time, he virtually attended the Ubiquitous Robots (UR) 2020 Conference held in Kyoto, Japan.

Like many recent conferences, this was UR’s first ever virtual event. Organised by the Korea Robotics Society and co-sponsored by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, UR2020 brought together scientists and engineers across the world who are at the forefront of robotics and automation. The week-long conference held 22-26 June 2020 comprised a variety of Keynote speeches, workshops and break-out sessions. To read more about the conference you can visit the Ubiquitous Robots 2020 website, here.

Hamid presented his paper H. Isakhani, C. Xiong, S. Yue and W. Chen, “A Bioinspired Airfoil Optimization Technique Using Nash Genetic Algorithm,” 2020 17th International Conference on Ubiquitous Robots (UR), Kyoto, Japan, 2020, pp. 506-513, doi: 10.1109/UR49135.2020.9144868.

This paper was nominated for the URA 2020 Best Paper Award.

Here is what Hamid had to say about the experience:

“2020 has been no ordinary from day one. Plane crashes, earth quakes, forest fires and now the devastating pandemic has certainly changed all of our lives for good or bad (reader’s perception). What is important is that we learn, adapt, and live on. Although some of our decisions are better than the others; like the AERO 2020 conference in France being postponed by over a year due to the pandemic compelling us to withdraw our participation, KROS on the other hand decided to take the leap and conduct the 17th International Conference on Ubiquitous Robots (UR2020) in Kyoto, Japan on the originally scheduled dates virtually for the first time in its history. It was certainly challenging for both the organisers as well as the participants, yet it was a success with a lot of takeaways for everyone.

Although the core topic of our work is more related to the field of Aerospace, we were extremely pleased to learn that our work was greatly recognised by the robotics community and nominated for the best contributed paper award at UR2020.

On 25th June 2020, 09:00hrs (JST), our 10 minutes long pre-recorded presentation was played back on Zoom application for the audience who later raised their questions via the built-in Q&A tab provided on the platform. Participants had access to the audio and video of the presenter and the session Chair who communicated and sorted the posted questions through a one-on-one video call.

Online conference sceptics might argue that networking and physical meetings at an international conference is a significant advantage missing in a virtual event, especially for early career researchers. Fortunately, this feature was also thoughtfully integrated by the organisers on the Slack application where different channels were created for presenters to communicate and share opinions/contacts for a period of thirty days.

Overall, it was rather an interesting experience, although I was in my 14-days covid-19 quarantine in China, at least I didn’t have to attend my session past midnight in the UK (BST).”

Hamid remains in China to carry on his secondment activities, although not in quarantine anymore. He continues his study on the effects of haemolymph on the flexural stiffness of various flying insect species. You can learn more about Hamid’s research here.