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INTUITIVE Spring School 

17th - 23rd  April  2023

Grand Hotel Excelsior,  Malta

Unlocking the Mechanics of Biomimetic Touch for Applications in Robotics, Prosthetics, and Industrial Haptics


This research school will take place April 17-21, 2023 in Malta, in the Grand Hotel Excelsior, PhD students and postdoctoral research associate working on related areas are welcome to apply to participating to this research school by submitting 1/2 page on their motivation to attend it and a maximum 2 pages CV. Sponsoring from the EU H20202 INTUITIVE project ( will cover the costs for the speakers' travel & accommodation and organisation, so that attendees will need to pay only for their travel to Malta and their room+pension in


Haptics, the sense of touch, enables humans to interact with their environment and is crucial to manipulation challenges in everyday life. It enables grasping, manipulation, learning, and decision- making based on the information from mechanoreceptors distributed in muscles and over the skin. Haptic sensing is a capability that robotic systems need to acquire for safely and efficiently interacting with their environment and with humans. If is essential to perform a variety of tasks in industrial applications, consumer services, and other highly dynamic environments such as assistance and care for elderly, housekeeping, etc. 
Traditionally, robotics has started to treat haptics like vision, a
nd the dominating aspect of haptics, mechanical interaction, has often been neglected. Mechanical interaction greatly complicates the design of sensing techniques that are fundamentally robust to sensing conditions and resilient to wear and abrasion, and determines haptic perception. Therefore, this spring school will focus on the neuroscience, material and signal processing aspects of interaction mechanics, as well as on industrial applications of haptics. We have assembled a team of speakers experts in all these fields contributing to cutting edge research in haptics both robots and humans. The school will enable exchange of ideas between these experts and the underlying field, to foster fresh ideas through interdisciplinary discussions. This will be completed by mini-projects to learn relevant aspects of psychophysics, machine learning and haptic sensors

Invited Speakers
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Dr. Patrick van der Smagt

Volkswagen, Germany

Dr. Patrick van der Smagt is director of the open-source Volkswagen Group Machine Learning Research Lab in Munich, focussing on probabilistic deep learning for time series modelling, optimal control, reinforcement learning robotics, and quantum machine learning. He is also research professor in the CS faculty at Eötvös Loránd University Budapest. He did his PhD and MSc at Amsterdam’s universities, and was then leading the Assistive Robotics and Bionics Lab at the DLR Oberpfaffenhofen and Professor at TUM. He is founding chairman of a non-for-profit organisation for Assistive Robotics for tetraplegics and co-founder of various tech companies. In 2018, he started a for-good initiative 10toGO by supporting teams using machine learning for the UN SDGs. Also then, he initiated etami, an initiative on Ethical and Trustworthy Artificial and Machine Intelligence, creating an organisation with almost 20 multinationals and universities.

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Dr. Harold Soh

University of Singapore

Dr. Harold Soh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS), where he directs the Collaborative Learning and Adaptive Robots (CLeAR) group. Harold completed his Ph.D. at Imperial College London on online learning for assistive robots. Harold’s current research focuses on machine learning and decision-making for trustworthy collaborative robots. His work spans cognitive modeling (e.g., human trust) to physical systems (e.g., tactile perception with novel e-skins). He is an Associate Editor of the ACM Transactions on Human Robot Interaction, International Journal of Robotics Research (IJRR), and Robotics Automation and Letters (RA-L). 

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Dr. Lucia Seminara 

University of Genova

Dr. Lucia Seminara is Associate Professor in the Department of Naval Engineering, Electrical, Electronics and Telecommunications of Universita di Genova. Her research goal is to develop electronic systems to artificially restore the sense of touch. Her interests relate to closing the sensorimotor control loop in different applications (e.g. prosthetics) and for neurorehabilitation, developing innovative human-machine haptic interfaces to measure touch (e-skin) and give back intuitive touch information to the subject non invasively (eg electrotactile stimulation). Lucia studied Physics until the MSc at the Universita di Genova and then obtained a Ph.D. in physics from EPFL, Switzerland.

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Dr. Lilian Hsiao 

NC State University, US

Dr. Lilian Hsiao is Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the NC State University in USA. She studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed a PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan, followed by a postdoc at MIT. Lilian and her research group use an interdisciplinary approach that combines experiments and models from materials science, chemical engineering, physics, and mechanical engineering to understand the roles of structure and dynamics in soft materials and complex fluids. In particular, they use microscopy and triborheology to identify the frameworks used to engineer the mechanical properties of soft surfaces. The results can be applied to many fields: understanding of nanoscale forces in non-spherical particulate systems, revealing the biomechanics of lubricated joints that make movement possible, and developing new types of materials with directional properties that are not found in nature

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Dr. Stephen Redmond

University College Dublin

Dr. Stephen Redmond is an Associate Professor at the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at University College Dublin (UCD). Dr. Redmond and his group use signal processing and pattern recognition techniques, combined with novel sensing hardware solutions, to bring longitudinal health monitoring into the home. He also has a research stream on tactile sensing, spanning from the study of human tactile physiology, through to the development of friction-sensing tactile sensors for robotic grippers. He completed his undergraduate studies and Ph.D. at UCD, then spent 10 years as an Academic at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, before returning to UCD in 2018 to lead a Science Foundation Future Research Leaders Award project on tactile sensing. He is also a co-founder of the tactile sensor company Contactile:

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Dr. Firat Güder

Imperial College London

Dr. Firat Güder is a principal investigator in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London. Firat and his team work in the interface of material science, electronics, chemistry and biology, focusing on the development of intelligent interfaces to connect complex chemical and biological systems with machines. Firat is passionate about solving problems concerning animal and human health, agriculture and food systems. In addition to his scholarly activities, he has also co-founded multiple startups to translate his research to address real world problems. For more information on Güder Research Group please visit

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Dr. Thorsten Schwarz

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Dr. Thorsten Schwarz is directing the Accessibility Lab of the Center for Digital Accessibility and Assistive Technologies (ACCESS@KIT) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and is responsible for digital accessible literature preparation for students with visual impairments. His research focusses on digital accessibility and new access to information for all e.g. using artificial intelligence. In order to anchor the topic of digital inclusion more firmly in everyday (university) life, he is also involved in the "Digital Accessibility" working group of the Higher Education Forum on Digitization and the European Network of Excellence in the field of "Social inclusion". In addition, he has been giving lectures on the topic of "Digital Accessibility and Assistive Technologies" in both master's and teaching degree programs at KIT since 2012.

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Dr. Andre Seyfarth

TU Darmstadt 

Dr. Andre Seyfarth and his Lauflabor Locomotion Lab at TU Darmstadt in Germany are doing research in the biomechanics and neuromechanics of human gait and running, and develop new measurement and analysis methods for studying movement. André Seyfarth studied physics and has a Ph.D. in biomechanics from Friedrich-Schiller Universität in Jena, Germany. He subsequently was an Emmy Noether fellow at University of Zurich and at MIT. He currently is a Professor of sports biomechanics with the Department of Human Sciences, TU Darmstadt.

Tutorials/Hand on Project

Machine Learning for Haptic Intelligence

This tutorial will focus on the implementation of machine learning algorithms in haptic research. Participants will learn how to use machine learning algorithms and analyse haptic data provided by ESR or PI. This tutorial will extend morning lectures. 


Tactile Perception and Learning Methods in Robotics

This tutorial will cover the basics of haptic measurements, including the use of force sensors, acceleration sensors, and other types of sensors. The sensors will be contributed by the ESR, PI and speakers. Participants will learn about the different types of sensors and their specific applications in haptics research. They will be able to try and compare the different sensors and will learn to use them efficiently. 

Viscoelastic measurement with wearables and EMG

This tutorial will compare the muscle visco-elasticity measurement during specific actions enabled by wearables and electromyography (EMG). Participants will learn how to conduct simple viscoelastic measurements and analyze the results. The presenter for this tutorial is still to be determined. 

Haptic illusions

This session will showcase different types of haptic and visuo-haptic illusions that have been collected and created by Vincent Hayward. Participants will learn to understand the different types of illusions and what they tell about the mechanisms of haptic information processing in the brain. Also it will be possible to explore haptic interfaces for visually impaired individuals, with a focus on navigation systems. Participants will learn about the challenges of designing haptic interfaces for this population and will discuss different approaches to overcome these challenges.

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