Long Night of Science

Long Night of Science

At the end of this week it was time for two important demo-days.

On Thursday the Output took place. Some kind of open house of the TU Dresden, at which scientific results and student’s works are presented to the public. Together with booths from industrial partners this mini-exhibition provides an overview of the output of the university. And this time, our demonstrators were particularly important. The junior research group VICCI, I am working in, is attached to the ResUbic lab, a cluster of multiple research groups working on the topics of Internet of things and cyber-physical systems. For many research groups within this is the last year of their funding period. Therefore, they understood output as their opportunity for a final presentation. So, they invited many important persons: industrial partners, press, and even government officials. Because of that, we put much effort into our demos, to make the best impression possible.

The best demo of VICCI, although I might be biased here, is the follower demo my colleagues Alex and André set up. It shows a combination of simple robot control and computer vision. To be more precise: the show a demo of object tracking. The robot is equiped with a camera, in our case a Kinect. With this sensor it lerns an object and then tracks this object within the camera’s image. In this photo we used a red coffee mug. The robot tries to keep a constant distant and a direct orientation towards this object. With this it is possible to remote control the robot by simply moving the mug correspondently.

Now, this demo is not that great because we can control a robot with a coffee mug. That is nice, but that is no rocket science. What is great is the object tracker. Alex uses a particle filter algorithms, based on probability distributions to assume the object position. This tracking is robust and very fast. A new object can be lerned within fractions of a second. Any object can be used, even bare hands.

On Friday the second demonstration came up directly after the Output: the long night of science (lange Nacht der Wissenschaft). We basically showed the same demonstrations as we did at the Output. Just some of the research groups of ResUbic did not want to. We did. We presented our work of VICCI to the broad public the whole evening and night, until the end of the day at 1 o’clock.

As conclusion I can say, that these two days were exhausting and that I am happy that this is finally over. Apart of that, our demonstrations were a complete success and the public liked what they saw.

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