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Plenary talk

Robot and Protein Kinematicschirikjian_3_4

Professor Gregory S. Chirikjian
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Johns Hopkins University



Kinematics is an important area of study both in robotics and in the analysis of protein motions in biological processes. This talk examines similarities in how kinematics enters in both of these areas of study through a number of examples.

Example 1: the workspace of a manipulator arm describes the set of reachable positions and orientations of the end effector relative to the base, and this is similar to the set of reachable poses in a biopolymer segment. (The analogy is particularly strong for snakelike robots.) Inverse kinematics problems in both areas are important in simulations.

Example 2: Modular robots are designed for easy assembly and disassembly, which is facilitated by complementary connector shapes. This is very similar to the protein-protein docking problem. In both cases, entropy quantifies how compatible parts are.

Example 3: Sensing, computer vision, and image processing technologies used for robot localization and pattern recognition in robotics are quite similar to data analysis methods in experimental structural biology. These similarities will be examined with case studies.


Gregory S. Chirikjian received undergraduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University in 1988, and the Ph.D. degree from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, in 1992. Since 1992, he has been on the faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, where he has been a full professor since 2001. From 2004-2007 he served as department chair. His research interests include robotics, applications of group theory in a variety of engineering disciplines, and the mechanics of biological macromolecules. He is a 1993 National Science Foundation Young Investigator, a 1994 Presidential Faculty Fellow, and a 1996 recipient of the ASME Pi Tau Sigma Gold Medal. In 2008 he became a Fellow of the ASME, and in 2010 he became a Fellow of the IEEE. He is the author of more than 200 journal and conference papers and primary author on three books: Engineering Applications of Noncommutative Harmonic Analysis (2001) and Stochastic Models, Information Theory, and Lie Groups, Vols. 1+2. (2009,2011). In 2016 and expanded edition of his 2001 book came out as a Dover book under the new title: Harmonic Analysis for Engineers and Applied Scientists.

Towards Surgeon-Robot Collaborative Surgeryliu_3_4

Professor Yunhui Liu
T Stone Robotics Institute
The Chinese University of Hong Kong



Robots are being widely employed to perform surgical procedures for their high accuracy in positioning and manipulating surgical instruments. In addition to remotely-controlled surgical robots such as the da Vinci surgical system, one of the major directions of research and development in surgical robotics is to develop small, low-cost, user-friendly, and easy-to-learn robots that can collaborate with surgeons side-by-side in supportive tasks like assistants.  This talk will introduce our on-going efforts on development of the surgeon-robot collaborative surgery systems and present the innovative solutions to the core technological problems in design, safety, control and surgeon-robot interactions, which include customized design of safe surgical robots using compliant and safe joints, endoscopic image-based control for surgical robots to stably interact with soft tissues without knowing the deformation models, and the friendly and easy-to-learn multi-modal interface for facilitating interactions between hands-occupied surgeons and the robots. Case studies will be investigated using assistive surgical robots handling an endoscope in nose and throat surgery and manipulating uterus in total laparoscopic hysterectomy, respectively.


Yun-Hui Liu received the B. Eng. degree in applied dynamics from the Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China, in 1985; the M. Eng. degree in mechanical engineering from Osaka University, Osaka, Japan, in 1989; and the Ph.D. degree in mathematical engineering and information physics from the University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, in 1992. He was with the  Electrotechnical Laboratory, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Ibaraki, Japan as a research scientist from 1992 to 1995. Since February 1995, he has been with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, where he is currently a Professor of the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering and the Director of the CUHK T Stone Robotics Institute. He is also an adjunct professor at the State Key Lab of Robotics Technology and System, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, China, and the Director of Joint Centre for Intelligent Sensing and Systems, National University of Defense Technology, Hunan, China, and CUHK. He has published more than 300 papers in refereed journals and refereed conference proceedings and was listed in the Highly Cited Authors (Engineering) by Thomson Reuters in 2013. His research interests include visual servoing, medical robotics, multi-fingered robot hands, mobile robots, sensor networks, and machine intelligence. Professor Liu has received numerous research awards from international journals and international conferences in robotics and automation and government agencies. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Robotics and Biomimetics and an Editor of Advanced Robotics. He served as an Associate Editor of the IEEE TRANSACTION ON ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION and General Chair of the 2006 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. He is an IEEE Fellow.

ura_3_4Autonomous Underwater Vehicles are Doing Something Great and Fascinating

Professor Tamaki Ura
Center for Socio-Robotic Synthesis
Kyushu Institute of Technology




2700m depth, Dodo Lava Field in Indian Ocean, Side Scan Sonar image Captured by “r2F4” 2006

The underwater world is a hostile environment for human beings. The number of people who reached the maximum depth of the ocean is only three, which is less than that of those who walked on the Moon. Communication through acoustic systems is so slow that the unmanned untethered underwater vehicle (AUV: Autonomous Underwater vehicle) should do everything by himself based on the software in his computer and data from the fitted sensors.  If he fails in the deep, he cannot expect that a rescue team will arrive soon, so that we are always nervous on the deck during his diving.


700mDepth Sea of Okhotsk Colony of Golden king clab taken by “Tuna-Sand” 2014 Lithodes aequispinus

But, once he comes back, he will bring a lot of data which have not ever seen by human being. Developers of the vehicle feel happy and comfortable, and are proud his accomplishment.  Two pictures show examples of something from the deep: A side-scan sonar image of Dodo lava field (diving depth 2,700m) in Indian Ocean captured by the AUV “r2D4” in 2006 and a picture of Golden King Crab at Sea of Okhotsk (diving depth 700m) by the AUV “Tuna-Sand” in 2014.  These images invite us to the deep inspiring that the AUVs are our true friends.


Tamaki Ura received the undergraduate degree from the University of Tokyo in 1972, and the Ph.D. degree in 1977. Since 1977, he was on the Institute of Industrial Science (IIS) of the University of Tokyo, where he has been a full professor till 2013.  He assigned the Director of Underwater Technology Research Center, which was established in 1999 by himself at IIS of the University of Tokyo.  He was Deputy Director of IIS from 2004 to 2006.  In 2013, he moved to the Kyushu Institute of Technology and established the Center for Socio-Robotic Synthesis.  He designed and constructed more than fifteen models of AUV so far and deployed them in various oceans.

He is working for Japanese Government as the councilor of the Headquarters of Ocean Policy and the Program Sub-Director of the National Program “Next-Generation  Technology for Ocean Resources Exploration in Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program”.

He established the IEEE/OES Japan Chapter, and served it as its first chair from 1995 to 2000.  Internationally he organized a series of symposium on underwater technology (UT), which were jointly sponsored by IEEE/OES, IIS and the Office of Naval Research.  He is the conference chairman of OCEANS MTS/IEEE /Techno-Ocean 2004 held at Kobe in November 2004, which is the first OCEANS conference held in Asia.  Based on these activities, he became a Fellow of IEEE in 2007, and received “IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society Distinguished Technical Achievement Award” in 2010.