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Max­Planck­Research Magazine

Issue 2016

1/2016

Robots go to School
As domestic help, healthcare assistants or emergency response units: robots are suitable for these jobs only if they are capable of learning and acting independently, at least to a certain extent. Stefan Schaal and the members of his Autonomous Motion Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen are teaching machines to become flexible and autonomous.

1/2016

Cars Open Their Eyes
A time may yet come when everyone has their own chauffeur-driven car – if robots take the wheel, that is. In order for autonomous vehicles to become a reality without huge technical outlay, however, computers will have to be able to assess complex traffic situations at least as well as drivers do. Andreas Geiger and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen are working to develop the necessary software.
Issue 2014

4/2014

Giving Birth to an Avatar
The life of an avatar is dependent on technology, including even the very act of its birth. For the virtual figure to look true to life and move realistically in its computer world, its creators need to have detailed information about the body of the real-life model, as well as about its movement. This is precisely the data that the first four-dimensional full-body scanner provides. This device was developed by Michael J. Black, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, together with American company 3dMD. With 22 stereo cameras and 22 color cameras taking 60 images per second, the scanner captures a person in various positions and activities that Javier Romero, a scientist at the institute, demonstrates here. For the scan, red and blue squares are printed on Nick Schill, a professional model, and then illuminated with a quickly pulsating spot pattern. The two patterns help the researchers reconstruct the three-dimensional surface of the body and the skin naturally. Not only can this method be used to create true-to-life figures for computer games and films, but it also offers interesting perspectives for research in psychology and medicine. In this way, it will soon be possible to use the realistic avatars in conducting perception experiments on body awareness– for instance to prevent eating disorders.

Heft 2014

A Way Out of the Inner Prison
The paralysis starts gradually, but in the course of time, it affects the entire body. People with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis eventually reach a point where they are no longer able to move any muscles or communicate with the outside world. A research group headed by Moritz Grosse-Wentrup at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen is looking for ways to help ALS patients break out of their isolation by teaching computers to read their minds.