We are happy to announce that we organize a workshop entitled “Open Deep Learning Toolkit for Robotics: Towards Democratizing Artificial Intelligence” under IROS 2021! The workshop will be held on October 2021 fully virtually and will be supported by OpenDR.


Recent advances in deep learning (DL) have led to a number of spectacular applications, ranging from self-driving cars, and (autonomous) robots that outperform humans in various tasks, to building algorithms that can understand and answer questions by fusing information from many modalities. By integrating the ability of DL and deep reinforcement learning (DRL) to learn complex behaviours, one can efficiently train robots that can interact with all the objects around them. However, the application of DL in robotics is not trivial and leads to specific learning, reasoning and embodiment problems and research questions that are typically not addressed by the computer vision and machine learning communities. Therefore, DL itself is an important area to be investigated, rather than only focussing its applications. 

Motivated by the challenges and opportunities above, the first objective pursued through this workshop is to show and present how using artificial intelligence (AI) and DL in robotics can highly improve people’s lives. In addition, after the pandemic situation that has unfolded worldwide over the past few months, with uncertainties and the need to try to maximise all the resources in different sectors, specially in healthcare, it is crucial to raise awareness of the multiple and flexible solutions that robotics can provide. The second objective of the workshop is to show the importance of having an open DL toolkit for the robotics community, a fact which has been identified as an important goal of the European Union (EU) research in robotics. It is to be noted that while this workshop will focus on the design of an open toolkit for DL, the discussions will not be restricted to DL, but we will initiate fruitful discussions to have further open toolkits for various robotic methods.

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The availability of an open DL toolkit is important since DL is not easily employed in robotics as they have a steep learning curve and radically different methodology than conventional robotics. Thus, relatively few robotics laboratories include DL methodologies to their research. Furthermore, DL comes with an additional significant drawback. DL models are becoming more and more complex, requiring vast amounts of computation power and energy. These requirements are becoming especially limiting in many robotics applications, where significant energy and computation power constraints exist.

In summary, the need for open toolkits in robotics, such as a DL toolkit that contains easy to train and deploy, real-time, lightweight, ROS-compliant DL models for robotics, is a must. In this workshop, we will discuss various open toolkits for robotics, however we will focus on a DL toolkit designed within the OpenDR project. OpenDR’s main goal is to provide advanced perception, cognition and decision making abilities in robotics using DL and DRL with the help of an open toolkit. The project focuses, among other things, on incorporating human presence, activities, vocal instructions and emotional states recognition, to enable a person-centric human interaction in robotics.

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Topics of interest

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Deep Learning for Robotics
  • Robot Learning
  • Open-source toolkit
  • Simulation
  • Deep robot active perception and cognition
  • Deep robot decision making
  • Robotic applications
  • Agriculture
  • Healthcare
  • Agile production

Invited Speakers

Silvia Rossi, PhD – Associate Professor Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology – D.I.E.T.I. – University of Naples Federico II

Abhinav Valada – Assistant Professor & Director of Robot Learning Lab at University of Freiburg

Alexandros Iosifidis – Associate Professor at Aarhus University

Roel Pieters – Associate Professor at Tampere University

Stefania Pedrazzi – Software Engineer at Cyberbotics Ltd.

Laura Ferranti – Assistant Professor at TU Delft

Ole Green – CEO at AgroIntelli

Call for contributions

The workshop plans to open  a call for contributions, in the form of short papers and poster presentations, so that experts can share their ideas in relation to the topics discussed. The selected papers will be presented during the corresponding session.

More information about the workshop will be available soon in our website.