Prof. Zhang Dan,
Kaneff Research Chair in Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics
Professor and Chair
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Lassonde School of Engineering
York University, Canda

Dr. Dan Zhang is a Professor and Kaneff Research Chair in Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University. From July 1st 2004 to December 31 2015, Dr. Zhang was a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Advanced Robotics and Automation, was a founding Chair of the Department of Automotive, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Engineering with the Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science at University of Ontario Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Laval University, Canada, in June 2000. Dr. Zhang’s contributions to and leadership within the field of robotic and automation have been recognized with several prestigious awards, within his own university (Research Excellence Award both from university level (2009) and faculty level (2008)), the Province of Ontario (Early Researcher Award in 2010), the professional societies (election to Fellow of the ASME in 2016, the EIC in 2012 and the CSME in 2010), and federal funding agencies (Canada Research Chair in January 2009 and renewed in January 2014). Besides, he was awarded the Inaugural Teaching Excellence by the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science of UOIT in 2006and the Best Professor Award by UOIT Engineering Students' Society in2012. Dr. Zhang is the editor-in-chief for International Journal of Mechanisms and Robotic Systems, the editor-in-chief for International Journal of Robotics Applications and Technologies, Associate editor for the International Journal of Robotics and Automation (ACTA publisher) and guest editors for other 4 international journals. Dr. Zhang served as a member of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Grant Selection Committee. Dr. Zhang was director of Board of Directors at Durham Region Manufacturing Association, Canada, and director of Board of Directors of Professional Engineers Ontario, Lake Ontario Chapter, Canada. Dr. Zhang is a registered Professional Engineer of Canada, a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and a Fellow of (Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering) CSME, a Senior Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a Senior Member of SME.

Speech Title: The Robotics Futures: Prospect and Scientific Challenge in Canada
Robotics provides a transformative technology for almost all aspects of our life and it has been used from the bottom of oceans to the space. Effective use of robotics in different systems is essential to future economic growth, job creation and global competitiveness.

In this talk, robotics research in Canada was introduced and the future robotics and challenge in Canada are explored. Five main themes of focus in robotics are discussed and they are:

1.     Land theme — Multi-mode platform, Deep forest, Arctic, underground mines, Mars
2.     Air theme — Low-altitude flight under a range of harsh weather conditions (wind, rain, snow), Space arm, Space debris
3.     Water theme — Shallow and deep lakes and oceans, surf zone
4.     Human theme — Human-centric and urban environments, with complex settings: shopping malls, homes of people with impaired cognitive/physical abilities
5.     Industry robots theme — High performance robotics system, Parallel/Hybrid robotics, 3D printer, Green manufactured system
Finally, the thoughts on future robotics research and development are proposed.


Plenary Speaker

Prof. Jane Zhang, California Polytechnic State University, USA

Dr. Jane Zhang was born in Shanghai, China. She received her Diploma in Electrical Engineering from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, in 1997, and her Ph. D degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, in 2002. In 1997 she was involved in the development of motion compensation related video compression techniques at the Telecommunications Institute at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. She also worked at Motorola Human-Interface Lab in Palo Alto in 2000 conducting research in biometric speaker verification. In 2003 she joined California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where she is currently a Professor, Associate Department Chair, and Graduate Coordinator. She was on the review panel on CISE REU Sites from National Science Foundation in 2006. In summer of 2007, she participated in international research collaboration with the Institute of Pattern Recognition and Intelligent System at Shanghai Jiao Tong University under the Wang Family Fellowship. In 2010, she is a visiting scholar at the Institute for Media Innovation from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Her research interests are in the areas of digital image processing, computer vision, statistical modeling, data fusion, and multimodal interaction.

Speech Title: Lip Detection and Adaptive Tracking
Performance of automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems utilizing only acoustic information degrades significantly in noisy environments such as a car cabins. Incorporating audio and visual information together can improve performance in these situations.  This work proposes a lip detection and tracking algorithm to serve as a visual front end to an audio-visual automatic speech recognition (AVASR) system.

Several color spaces are examined that are effective for segmenting lips from skin pixels. These color components and several features are used to characterize lips and to train cascaded lip detectors.  Pre- and post-processing techniques are employed to maximize detector accuracy. The trained lip detector is then incorporated into an adaptive mean-shift tracking algorithm for tracking lips in a car cabin environment.  The experimental results based on AVICAR database demonstrated that the resulting detector achieves 96.8% accuracy, and the tracker is shown to recover and adapt in scenarios where mean-shift alone fails.

Prof. S.A. Coleman
Ulster University, UK

Sonya Coleman joined the Computer Science Research Institute and School of Computing and Intelligent Systems in 2002 and was appointed Head of the Research Graduate School in 2012.
Sonya is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and teaches at undergraduate level.
Sonya received a BSc(Hons) in Mathematics, Statistics and Computing (first class) from the Ulster University, UK in 1999, and a PhD in Mathematics from the Ulster University, UK in 2003. She is Cognitive Robotics team leader within the Intelligent Systems Research Centre. Sonya has publications primarily in image processing, robotics, computational intelligence and financial engineering. Her research has been supported by funding from various sources such as EPSRC, The Nuffield Foundation, The Leverhulme Trust and the European Commission. In 2009 she was awarded the Distinguished Research Fellowship by the Ulster University in recognition of her contribution research and she is currently secretary of the Irish Pattern Recognition and Classification Society.

Speech Title: An Implementation Framework for Fast Image Processing
Efficient processing of image data is a key aspect of achieving real-time performance for image and video applications. Here, a biologically inspired novel framework which uses a spiral indexing scheme is used to facilitate fast image processing. In particular we demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on low-level image operations (convolution) and feature extraction (edge detection). Unlike conventional image addressing schemes where the pixels are indexed using two-dimensional Cartesian coordinates, a spiral addressing scheme enables the pixels to be stored in memory adjacent to their immediate neighbours and indexed as a one-dimensional vector. This permits both efficient traversal of the image structure and efficient application of image processing operators. Performance is evaluated by the application of Laplacian edge detection. The results demonstrate the efficiency of the proposed approach compared with a typical two-dimensional implementation




Invited Speaker I

Dr. Gan Ma,
Waseda University, Japan

Gan Ma is currently a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow in Takanishi Lab, Waseda University, Tokyo. He did his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Key Laboratory of Biomimetic Robots and Systems, Beijing Institute of Technology. His Bachelor degree was obtained in Mechanical Engineering from Sichuan University. His research interests include falling motion control and human-robot interaction of humanoid robots and compliance control of robotic manipulators.
He was speaker of 7 international conferences, peer reviewer of several journals and international conferences. He obtained IEEE ICIA 2014 Best Paper Finalist award. He is membership of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, and Australian Robotics and Automation Association (ARAA).

Speech Title: Effect of Bio-inspired Falling Strategy for a Biped Humanoid Robot
Although consistent stability is desirable, a biped humanoid robot encounters a high risk of falling. Such falls may cause serious damage to both the robot and the environment. In this talk, I will introduce my past and ongoing research related to falling of biped humanoid robots. First, I investigated four strategies for backward fall based on human protective falling motion; Then, I focused on the forward fall issue and investigated the effectiveness of active impedance for forward falls. Finally, I will shortly introduce my ongoing work on the design of a humanoid platform for falling.

Invited Speaker II

Dr. Hadi Heidari
University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Hadi Heidari, PhD, is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom. Prior to this, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Electronic and Nanoscale Engineering Division of the University of Glasgow. He received BSEE and MSEE degrees in 2005 and 2008, respectively. Following 3-years working in industry and academia in Iran, he completed his Ph.D. in Microelectronics from the University of Pavia, Italy. His research interests are focused on the magneto-electronics, CMOS sensory microsystems, sensor interfaces, device modelling and flexible electronics.
Dr. Heidari is IEEE Sensors Council Young Professional reprehensive (2017-2019). He served on the organizing committee of several conferences such as social media chair of the IEEE SENSORS 2016 conference in Orlando, USA, publicity chair of the IEEE Sensors 2017 conference in Glasgow, UK, local organizing committee of the IEEE PRIME 2015 conference, organizer of a special session on the IEEE ISCAS 2016 and 2017 conferences. He is member of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society and a committee member of the IEEE Sensors Council UKRI Chapter. He has authored or co-authored over 35 peer-reviewed publications in international journals or conference proceedings and acts as a reviewer for several journals and conferences. He received honorary mention paper award at the IEEE ISCAS 2014 conference, Gold Leaf award at IEEE PRIME 2014 conference, and co-recipient of the ISSCC 2016 Silk Road Award. He was a visiting scholar with the University of Macau, China, and McGill University, Canada.
Speech Title: Towards Flexible Magnetoelectronics for Robotic Applications
Towards Flexible Magnetoelectronics for Robotic Applications Abstract: This paper presents the technological advancements in the field of flexible magnetic sensors for robotics applications. Various magnetic devices (e.g. Hall, GMR, AMR and TMR) have been studied and their suitability for flexible application has been presented. Further, the system level integration of magnetic sensors in robotics is briefly discussed. With rapid development in flexible electronics, a robot with multi-functional conformable electronic skin will be possible in the foreseeable future. This will also open new avenues for a wide range of other applications including wearable electronics and interactive electronic-skin for robots and prosthesis.