What Roboticists can learn from Human Perception and Cognition


Our brain is constantly processing a vast amount of sensory and intrinsic information in order to understand and interact with the world around us. In my department at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen we aim to best model human perception and action and to test these models to predict human action for example in the context of driving and flying. To this end, we use systems and control theory, computer vision, and psychophysical techniques while conducting experiments with the most advanced state of the art motion simulators. I will present two examples to illustrate our research philosophy, the first in the area of Telepresence and the second about the enabling technologies of futuristic transportations systems:

  1. An ideal telepresence system should enable the user to perceive and act on the remote environment as if sensed directly. In this context, we study new ways to interface human operators and teams of autonomous remote robots in a shared bilateral control architecture.
  2. A novel framework to overcome the congestion problems with current ground-based transportation is a personal air transport system (PATS). In the myCopter project (www.mycopter.eu), we studied together with other European partners the enabling technologies for traveling between homes and working places, and for flying in swarms at low altitude in urban environments.

All our efforts are guided by our vision that in the future humans and machines will seamlessly cooperate in shared or remote spaces, thus becoming an integral part of our daily life.

About the Speaker

Prof. Dr. Heinrich Bülthoff

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
Tübingen, Germaby

Heinrich Bülthoff is scientific member of the Max Planck Society and director at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. He is head of the Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action in which a group of about 70 researchers investigate psychophysical and computational aspects of higher level visual processes in recognition and categorization, perception and action in virtual environments, human-robot interaction and human perception in aviation. He holds a Ph.D. degree in the natural sciences from the Eberhard-Karls-Universität in Tübingen. From 1980 to 1988 he worked as a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was Assistant, Associate and Full Professor of Cognitive Science at Brown University in Providence from 1988-1993 before becoming director at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. He is Honorary Professor at the Eberhard-KarlsUniversität (Tübingen) and Korea University (Seoul) and was founding editor of the ACM Transactions on Applied Perception and editor of other international journals. Heinrich Bülthoff is involved in many international collaborations and member of several European research networks. He has participated in many projects funded by the European Commission but not in the Human Brain Project