More from ISRR

ISRR finished today. It’s been a good conference, low on detailed technical content, but high on interaction and good for an overview of parts of robotics I rarely get to see.

One of the highlights of the last two days was a demo from Japanese robotics legend Shigeo Hirose, who put on a show with his ACM R5 swimming snake robot in the hotel’s pool. Like many Japanese robots, it’s remote controlled rather than autonomous, but it’s a marvellous piece of mechanical design. Also on show was a hybrid roller-walker robot and some videos of a massive seven-ton climbing robot for highway construction.

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Another very interesting talk with some neat visual results was given by Shree Nayar, on understanding illumination in photographs. If you take a picture of a scene, the light that reaches the camera can be thought of as having two components – direct and global. The “direct light” leaves the light source and arrives at the camera via a single reflection off the object. The “global light” takes more complicated paths, for example via multiple reflections, subsurface scatter, volumetric scatter, etc. What Nayar showed was that by controlling the illumination, it’s possible to separate the direct and global components of the lighting. Actually, this turns out to be almost embarrassingly simple to do – and it produces some very interesting results. Some shown below, and many more here. It’s striking how much the direct-only photographs look like renderings from simple computer graphics systems like OpenGL. Most of the reason early computer graphics looked unrealistic was due to the difficulty of modelling the global illumination component. The full paper is here.

Scene Direct Global

Lots of other great technical talks too, but obviously I’m biased towards posting about the ones with pretty pictures!

Citation: “Visual Chatter in the Real World”, S. Nayar et. al., ISRR 2007