Sylvain Calinon








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Sylvain Calinon

Sylvain Calinon

I am a permanent researcher at the Idiap Research Institute since May 2014, with research interests covering robot learning and human-robot interaction. I am also a lecturer at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), and an external collaborator at the Department of Advanced Robotics (ADVR), Italian Institute of Technology (IIT). From 2009 to 2014, I was a Team Leader at ADVR-IIT. From 2007 to 2009, I was a Postdoc at the Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory (LASA), EPFL. I hold a PhD from EPFL (2007), awarded by the Robotdalen Scientific Award, ABB Award and EPFL-Press Distinction. I co-authored about 80 publications and a book in the field of robot learning by imitation and exploration, with recognition including Best Paper Award at IEEE Ro-Man'2007 and Best Paper Award Finalist at IEEE-RAS Humanoids'2009, IEEE/RSJ IROS'2013, ICIRA'2015 and IEEE ICRA'2016. European Projects I am or have been involved in include DexROV, I-DRESS, TACT-HAND, STIFF-FLOP, PANDORA, SMART-E, SAPHARI, AMARSI, ROBOT@CWE, FEELIX GROWING and COGNIRON.

My work focuses on human-centric robot applications, with the objective of developing probabilistic approaches to encode movements and behaviors in robots evolving in unconstrained human environments. In these applications, the models serve several purposes (recognition, prediction, online synthesis), and are shared by different learning strategies (imitation, emulation, incremental refinement or exploration). The aim is to facilitate the transfer of skills from end-users to robots, or in-between robots, by exploiting multimodal sensory information and by developing intuitive teaching interfaces. I take the perspective that the robots actuation capability must be enriched with force and impedance information to anticipate the users' behaviors and generate safe and natural movements.

The developed learning algorithms can be applied to a wide range of robotic applications, with robots that are either close to us (assistive robots in I-DRESS), parts of us (prosthetic hands in TACT-HAND), or far away from us (manipulation skills in deep water with DexROV).

Upcoming or recent invited talks


Neurorobotics Workshop, 30th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS'2016), Barcelona, Spain.


"AI and Robotics: from technology to the arts" seminar, Mines-ParisTech, France.


Workshop on Human-Robot Collaboration: Towards Co-Adaptive Learning Through Semi-Autonomy and Shared Control, Intl Conf. on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS'2016), Daejeon, Korea.


Curzon-Goldsmiths Cinema, Goldsmiths University of London, UK.


Workshop on Planning, Scheduling and Dependability in Safe Human-Robot Interactions, Intl Conf. on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS'2016), London, UK.


Conference Cerveau & Robot, Sion, Switzerland.

Latest news and updates


Open postdoc position in robot learning applied to bimanual underwater teleoperation within the DexROV project.


Post from Techradar: Robot graffiti artist is the Banksy of the mechanical world.


Our paper on "Learning Robot Manipulation Tasks with Task-Parameterized Semi-Tied Hidden Semi-Markov Model" was Best Manipulation Paper Award Finalist of the IEEE Intl Conf. on Robotics and Automation (ICRA).


The webpage for the Workshop on Artistically Skilled Robots that will take place at the IEEE/RSJ Intl Conf. on on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) is now online.


Interview by La Fribune, University of Fribourg (in French).


Our Baxter robot was featured on Canal9 (TV channel in Valais, in French).


Interview about the DexROV project on RTS's CQFD radio show.


Our video with the Baxter robot is finalist of the Rethink Robotics Video Challenge.