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This page describes some aspects of my research activites. It is a bit outdated but I try not to let it die.

Research overview

A view of robotics research 

The evolution of robots in complex dynamic environments is a difficult problem because it requires solving the safety/optimality trade-off without falling into the trap of conservatism – the robot does not move – or overconfidence – the robot regularly damages its environment. This very general scientific issue is the core of my research activity and I approach it through the prism of control.

It also raises research questions that go beyond the boundaries of Robotics: system dynamics and modelling, but also numerical optimization, biomechanics and human movement, or evolutionary and machine learning approaches applied to robotics. This is all the more true if one considers the application point of view of my work, whose barycentre is increasingly located around collaborative and assistive robotics, i.e. centred on the human.

My contributions in this field are on the one hand related to the generic formulation and reactive resolution of control problems involving several potentially conflicting tasks to be performed concomitantly, optimally and within a set of strict constraints. On the other hand, I also have many contributions in the field of humanoid robot whole-body control where one has to consider the impact of control decisions (e.g. “lift a foot”) on a time horizon. Moreover, in the context of collaborative robotics, I exploit my control paradigm to take into account safety constraints related to the physical interaction and the sharing of the human/robot workspace. Finally, I exploit work on the control of humanoid robots for the simulation of virtual humans in order to perform quantitative, dynamic and detailed ergonomic evaluations.

All these contributions are essentially methodological but have also led me to conduct important experimental developments around several robots but also human motion capture. These developments are evoked in the first person but they are often the result of a collaborative work with my colleagues: permanent staff, engineers, trainees, PhD students and post-docs.

Formulation and resolution of multi-tasks control problems under constraints

Multi-tasking under constraints 

In a dynamic environment, the guarantee of compliance with the constraints, being them intrinsic to the robot (joint limits, actuator saturation) or external (no contact with the environment), cannot be provided a priori. This implies that the execution of the tasks to be performed is not guaranteed either, especially if these tasks are defined in reaction to the dynamics of the environment. My contribution in this area has been to contribute to the systematic writing of the reactive control problem as a quadratic optimization problem under linear constraints. This allows, in contrast with approaches classically described in the robotics literature, to guarantee the instantaneous optimality of the control action as well as the strict respect of the constraints at each moment.

In this framework, I have also proposed a modular hierarchical formulation for n task problems [Liu 2016][Liu 2016]. It allows to express strict and weighted task hierarchies in a unified way and to switch seamlessly from one to the other, providing a simple and efficient way to insert and remove tasks in the control problem. Finally, in parallel with these activities, I conduct an original research work on the formulation of constraints in order to formally ensure the existence of a solution to the control problem over an infinite time horizon (viability) in contexts where the operational instruction is not known in advance. This question of viability is at the heart of the problem of robot control evolving in dynamic environments, especially if we go back to the initially formulated question concerning the global optimality of control decisions and their impact on the existence of solutions to the control problem in the short and medium term.

To be updated

On-going projects

The LICHIE visual 

2020 – 2024 LiChIELiChIE
Funding BPI France
Coordinator Airbus

The PSA project visual 

2020 – 2023 Shared Workspace AnalysisShared Workspace Analysis
Funding PSA and ANRT (CIFRE)
Coordinator PSA

The HARRY2 visual 

2019 – 2021 HARRY2 – Highly sAfe Robot integRation for the industrY througH an Advanced contRol and monitoRing strategYHARRY2 – Highly sAfe Robot integRation for the industrY througH an Advanced contRol and monitoRing strategY
Funding COVR projectCOVR project, European H2020 R&I program - Project number: 779966. Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine - Grant agreement: 2019-1R5-0116
Coordinator Vincent Padois, InriaVincent Padois, Inria
Partners Auctus (Inria)Auctus (Inria), Fuzzy Logic RoboticsFuzzy Logic Robotics, RoBioS (PPRIME)RoBioS (PPRIME)

The Woobot visual 

2018 – 2021 Woobot – Collaborative Robotics for artisanal work with WoodWoobot – Collaborative Robotics for artisanal work with Wood
Funding Inria and Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Coordinator https:team.inria.frauctus Auctus (Inria)]
Partners Auctus (Inria)Auctus (Inria), BTP-CFA AquitaineBTP-CFA Aquitaine, AerosplineAerospline, Aquitaine RoboticsAquitaine Robotics

Past projects

The Robotex project logo 

2012 – 2020 Equipex Robotex
Funding: ANR ANR-10-EQPX-44-01 - Investissements d'Avenir
Coordinator: Michel de Mathelin, CNRS

The CODYCO logo 

2013 – 2017 Whole body Compliant Dynamical Contacts in cognitive humanoids (CoDyCo)
Funding: STREP - FP7-ICT-2011.2.1 Cognitive Systems and Robotics (b) - Project number: 600716
Coordinator: Francesco Nori, IIT

The ROMEO robot 

2012 – 2016 The ROMEO project
Funding: Banque Publique d'Investissement
Coordinator: Aldebaran Robotics

Fondation UPMC logo 

2011 – 2016 RTE Chair of Intervention Robotics
Funding: RTE
Coordinator: Fondation UPMC

University of Minho logo 

2013 – 2014 PAUILF Project
Funding: Campus France
Coordinator: Cristina Santos, University of Minho

MACSi project logo 

2010 – 2013 Motor, Affective and Cognitive Scaffolding for iCub
Funding: ANR BLAN 0216 01 (Blanc Program) / RobotCub OpenCall
Coordinator: Olivier Sigaud, ISIR/UPMC

Telemach project logo 

2008 – 2010 TELEoperated maintenance for tunnel boring MACHinesTELEoperated maintenance for tunnel boring MACHines
Funding: ANR 07 ROBO 0011 (Psirob Program)
Coordinator: Bouygues Construction

Mars view 

2006 – 2007 Reactive control and whole rover-arm coordination for space robotics, rock coring application
Funding: Nasa Mars Technology Program
Coordinator: Paul Backes, Nasa JPL

Asimo view 

2006 – 2007 Control architecture, collision detection and efficient distance computation for Asimo
Funding: Honda robotics research program
Coordinator: Oussama Khatib, Stanford University

Egocentre project logo 

2002 – 2005 Egocentre: Multi-sensor based dynamic sequencing of tasks for the execution of complex mobile robotics missions
Funding: CNRS RobEA program
Coordinator: Philippe Souères, LAAS CNRS

nonH project logo 

2002 – 2005 nonH: Control of non-holonomic mobile manipulators
Funding: CNRS RobEA program
Coordinator: Claude Samson, INRIA SOP