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Robot Learning & Interaction

The Robot Learning & Interaction group focuses on human-centric robot applications. The objective is to develop probabilistic approaches to encode movements and behaviors in robots evolving in unconstrained 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.

The developed learning algorithms can be applied to a diverse 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).

Current Group Members

Group Members

Sylvain Calinon (Permanent Researcher)
Ioannis Havoutis (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Ajay Tanwani (PhD Student)
Emmanuel Pignat (PhD Student)
Noémie Jaquier (PhD Student)
Fabien Crépon (MSc Student)


Daniel Berio (Visiting PhD Student)
Nikol Guljelmovic (Visiting MSc Student)
Dominique Tao(MSc Student)
Christian Abbet (MSc Student)

Current projects

I-DRESS - Assistive Interactive robotic system for support in DRESSing
The main objective of the project is to develop a system that will provide proactive assistance with dressing to disabled users or users such as high-risk health-care workers, whose physical contact with the garments must be limited during dressing to avoid contamination.
TACT-HAND - Improving control of prosthetic hands using tactile sensors and realistic machine learning
Intuitive and robust control of poly-articulated prosthetic hands by amputees is an as-yet unsolved problem, largely due to: (1) inadequate sensorization in the hand and in the human-machine interface; and (2) inadequate machine learning methods to detect the intent of the user. These problems cannot be easily solved since prosthetic hands pose severe limitations on weight, price, size, cosmetics and power consumption. They cannot be equipped with standard robotic sensors and, at the same time, a practical, reliable intent detection method is simply not yet available.
DEXROV - Effective Dexterous ROV Operations in Presence of Communications Latencies
DexROV will develop cost-effective technologies and methods that will enable subsea operations with fewer off-shore personnel while increasing the range, flexibility and complexity of operations that are possible.


Idiap has a new opening for a Postdoc position in robot learning applied to bimanual underwater teleoperation Jan 11, 2017
The Robot Learning & Interaction Group has an open Postdoc position within the DexROV European project, in collaboration with 6 other partners in Belgium, France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.
Idiap's Baxter robot and the research behind it featured in "Le Nouvelliste" Dec 07, 2016
Thanks to Idiap researchers, the Baxter robot is able to learn from its mistakes.
DexROV holds first official review with European Commission Nov 21, 2016
Nineteen months after the undersea-operations project was launched, DexROV has successfully completed its first funding review as part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme.
Robot graffiti artist is the Banksy of the mechanical world Nov 07, 2016
Best not left alone on the back of a bus
Workshop on Artistically Skilled Robots May 30, 2016
ICRA, Paper Award Finalist May 30, 2016
Canal9 visits the Baxter robot at Idiap Apr 14, 2016
Dr. Sylvain Calinon, head of Idiap’s Robot Learning & Interaction group, receives Romain Boisset, reporter for the Canap9 TV channel. They demonstrate how Idiap’s Baxter robot learns by demonstration.
Idiap's DexROV project featured in RTS's CQFD radio show today Feb 24, 2016
DexROV is a robot of a special kind. This underwater robot is destined to take the place of human divers for tasks in very deep water (up to 1’300 meters under the sea). The Idiap Research Institute in Martigny is in charge of developing the algorithms that will help teleoperating the two arms of this robot.
Idiap has a new opening for a PhD Student position in machine learning applied to the control of prosthetic hands Dec 23, 2015
The Robot Learning & Interaction Group at Idiap is recruiting a PhD Student in the field of robot learning and control. The work will take place within the TACT-HAND project starting in April 2016, in collaboration with DLR and CITEC, where Idiap will contribute to the robot learning aspects.
Idiap Video amongst the 10 finalists of the Rethink Robotics Video Challenge Dec 15, 2015
In the summer of 2015, Rethink Robotics, the worldwide leader in collaborative robotics research and education launched the Rethink Robotics Video Challenge. The Challenge was created to highlight the amazing work being done by the research and education community with the Baxter robot. The Challenge attracted more than 90 total entries from 19 countries around the globe. The video of Dr. Sylvain Calinon’s Robot Learning & Interaction group of the Idiap Research Institute in Martigny was selected amongst the 10 finalists.
New opening for a PhD student position in robot learning for interactive dressing assistance Sep 07, 2015
The Robot Learning & Interaction Group at Idiap is recruiting a PhD student in the field of robot learning and control. The work will take place within a CHIST-ERA project on interactive dressing assistance (I-DRESS) starting in December 2015, in collaboration with CSIC-UPC and UWE-BRL, where Idiap contributes to the robot learning aspects.
Imagine a world with robots Aug 31, 2015
Video in French
The DexROV website is now live. Jun 11, 2015
DexROV brings together seven different organisations from all over Europe to challenge what is possible in the realms of undersea operations. DexROV will use and evaluate new technologies to allow safer, more cost-effective undersea operations with Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs).
Idiap participates in a European H2020 project concerned with the teleoperation of a bimanual underwater robot Mar 11, 2015
In 2014, Idiap – together with 6 partners – submitted the DexROV project, which was awarded a grant of several millions francs, to the Horizon 2020 program of the European Commission. The project was officially launched on March 1st 2015 and proposes to equip an underwater robot with two arms that will allow to manipulate tools and to repair infrastructure in the depths.
New opening for an internship position on "Robot drawing skills acquisition with vision feedback" Dec 19, 2014
Idiap has an open internship position for a student to work in the new Robot Learning and Interaction Group. The project involves the bimanual robot Baxter controlled by torque commands, enabling the production of natural human-like movements by modifying the stiffness at the level of the articulations.
Meet Baxter, Idiap’s new robot Sep 04, 2014
Idiap pursues its development with new scientific research groups. Recently, the institute has acquired an American robot worth CHF 30’000.-. This investment opens new perspectives, in particular thanks to the interconnection between the different domains of competencies developed in Martigny.
New research groups at Idiap Jul 09, 2014
The Idiap Research Institute is proud to announce that 2 new researchers have recently joined the research team. Sylvain Calinon and Michael Liebling will reinforce, complement and develop the Institute’s expertise and competencies in human-robot interaction and computational bioimaging.


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