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Download the report «What do Poles think about robots?»

Public opinion survey and report prepared in autumn 2023 by IDEAS NCBR and the HumanTech Center of SWPS University, presenting the attitude of Polish society towards the topic of robotization and humanoid robots in Poland.

Contemporary robotics focuses on avoiding contact with the environment, as such contact could potentially damage the robot or its surroundings. However, this approach doesn’t align with our vision for autonomous machines, which are meant to collaborate with humans. While present-day robots can lift and carry objects, there’s much progress needed for tasks like zipping up a jacket or peeling an apple.

Moreover, while robots can walk, jump, and perform backflips, these actions are predominantly executed on stable ground. Our aspiration is for robots to accomplish these tasks on varied surfaces, utilizing contact across their entire bodies, not just their feet or hands. The necessity for physical interaction is particularly evident in tasks involving robotic manipulation and legged locomotion. In both scenarios, a deep understanding of contact physics is essential for effective interaction with environment. We believe that in robotics, contact is not a bug but a feature.

In our research, we aim to challenge the current approach to robotics that avoids contact. We intend for robots to leverage contact for perception and action. Regarding perception, we focus on using vision and tactile sensing to provide robots with a detailed understanding of the environment’s physics. Our primary emphasis is on the sense of touch, as it directly measures physical parameters of objects the robot interacts with. Touch complements vision, offering information that is otherwise inaccessible through indirect visual sensing. Additionally, touch can guide the learning process of vision-based algorithms.

Our approach leverages environmental interaction to develop innovative methods that merge sensing modes, uncovering insights into interaction physics. We utilize cutting-edge tools, including machine learning, advanced computer vision, representation learning, and signal processing, with a specific emphasis on unsupervised techniques. In the action domain, understanding contact physics enhances robot task execution, avoiding worst-case assumptions for physical parameters (e.g., low friction for walking or grasping) to enable efficient interaction with the world.

Research Team Leader

Krzysztof Walas

Krzysztof Walas graduated from Poznan University of Technology (PUT) in Poland, obtaining an MSc in Automatic Control and Robotics. He received a PhD in Robotics in 2012 (with honors) for his thesis on legged robot locomotion in structured environments. He completed his Postdoc at The University of Birmingham, School of Computer Science, Intelligent Robotics Laboratory. He is a recipient of the LIDER project from the National Center for Research and Development and was a Principal Investigator (PI) in the THING project on subterranean legged locomotion within Horizon 2020. He also serves as a PI in the REMODEL project on deformable object manipulation within Horizon 2020. Presently, he holds the position of Assistant Professor at the Institute of Robotics and Machine Intelligence at PUT, Poland and leader of the Physical Interaction Robotics research team at IDEAS NCBR. His research interests revolve around robotic perception for physical interaction, applied to both walking and grasping tasks.

ELLIS Society member.

23-29.05.2022 ICRA’22, Session Chair – Legged Robots 1, Associate Editor area: Mechanisms, Design, and Control, Co-Chair 6th Workshop on Legged Robots

04.06.2021 Chair of 5th International Workshop Towards Real-World Deployment of Legged Robots in conjunction with ICRA 2021, Xi’an, China

2021 ICRA Associate Editor, area: Mechanisms, Design, and Control

2021 IJCAI Senior Program Committee Member

22.06.2020 Co-Chair of 4th International Workshop Towards Real-World Deployment of Legged Robots in conjunction with ICRA 2020, Paris, France

2020 ECAI Program Committee Member

23.05.2019 Co-Chair of 3rd International Workshop Towards Real-World Deployment of Legged Robots in conjunction with ICRA 2019, Montreal, Canada

29.10.2017 Co-Chair of 3rd International Workshop on Recovering 6D Object Pose in conjunction with ICCV 2017, Venice, Italy

10.2022 – 02.2023 PI at PUT in ESA OSIP Grant Cognition – distributed data processing system for lunar activities (6 months project, 45,000.00 EUR at PUT)

01.11.2019 Principal Investigator, “Robotic tEchnologies for the Manipulation of cOmplex DeformablE Linear objects – REMODEL”, European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program GA No 870133
(4 years, 743,120.00 EUR at PUT)

01.2019 – 12.2019 Project Leader – Equipment grant from Polish Ministry of Science, Acquisition of quadruped robot, (1 year, 275,000.00 EUR)

01.01.18 –30.09.21 Principal Investigator, “subTerranean Haptic INvestiGator – THING”, European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme GA No 780883 (3.75 years, 376,223.75 EUR at PUT)

01.01.2017 Principal Investigator, “Perception and Control in the Task of Robotic Manipulation of Elastic Objects”, The National Centre for Research and Development in Poland (3 years, 1,156,000 PLN)

Other research groups and teams

  • Computer Graphics Computer graphics, a sub-discipline of computer science, is traditionally concerned with algorithms for digital synthesis and manipulation of visual and geometric content.
    Przemysław Musialski
  • Neural Rendering Our team's primary objective is to develop new representations for both NeRFs and Gaussian Splatting to address a fundamental challenge in neural rendering.
    Przemysław Spurek
  • Sustainable Computer Vision For Autonomous Machines Our solutions could potentially be used in drones as a tool supporting the protection of national parks, including animals against poaching. They allow for fast and efficient monitoring of large land areas in remote locations...
    Bartosz Zieliński