Welcome to the 2nd Workshop on Proximity Perception in Robotics at IROS 2019

(FrWA-R17 Workshop, Room LG-R17 at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, Macau, China)



We observe that Proximity Perception technologies have the potential to play an essential role for service, industrial robotics, HRC, compliant robotics applications and even bio-inspired robotics in the near future. A similar trend can be observed for Tactile Perception. On the one hand, designs of robotic graspers that include Proximity Sensors allow for novel control strategies for exploration, grasping and manipulation. On the other hand, the sensors will allow safety features to fulfill leading technical specifications such as ISO/TS 15066 for the operation of collaborative robots and improve the autonomy and perception of robotic systems in all fields.

In this workshop we want to highlight what benefits Proximity Perception can offer to robotics, especially to those unfamiliar with it. Another important aspect is the networking within the community as well as bridging the gap to the industry. Oftentimes the backgrounds of the researchers will be quite diverse, because of many different sensing principles suitable for implementing Proximity Perception (optical, acoustic, capacitive, radar, inductive, etc.). Here it is also important to us to feature content from industrial participants. Furthermore, we aim to offer hands-on experience including live demos with sensors and systems currently used by different research groups. This will be interesting for participants that are new to the field but also for participants who already use Proximity Perception as capabilities and limitations of the various concepts will be discussed. Finally, as Proximity Perception is closely related to Tactile Perception we will also feature contents from this domain, with a focus on how Proximity Perception can profit from established approaches in Tactile Perception.

To further engage the participants we have a paper-/poster-session, together with the hands-on demo-session, where participants will be able to present current results of their research projects. Especially young researchers (PhD students) will be able to gain experience presenting their results to their peers. Finally, the workshop features a panel discussion including all invited speakers to have an open ended discussion to round off the workshop.

For more details see the Description page.

Mailing-List: see here.


We are grateful for the support of the following organizations:


- IEEE RAS Technical Committee  Robotic Hands, Grasping and Manipulation (Homepage)

- IEEE RAS Technical Committee on Human-Robot Interaction & Coordination (Homepage)

- IEEE RAS Technical Committee on Haptics (Homepage)

- IEEE RAS Austria Section (Homepage)






With this workshop we want to further build up the community of Proximity Perception. This objectives of the workshops are:

  • Further establish the community working on Proximity Perception
  • Introducing the field of Proximity Perception to the general robotics audience
  • Bridging from Tactile Perception to Proximity Perception
  • Providing a forum for the community to exchange ideas, knowledge and establish new collaborations with researchers and industrial partners


Topics of Interest

  • Proximity Sensors
    • Multi-modal Sensors (tactile, shear, vibration, etc.)
    • Sensor Calibration
  • Robotic Skins (architectures)
  • Application Domains for Proximity Sensors
    • Human-Robot Interaction
    • Human-Robot Collaboration
    • Preshaping and Grasping
    • Haptic Exploration
    • Assistive Robots
    • Prosthetics
    • Collision Avoidance
    • Teleoperation with Proximity Sensing
    • Intuitive Robot Programming, Human-Robot Interface
    • Multi-Modal Control
    • Sensor Fusion
    • Underwater Robotics
    • Bio-inspired Robotics
  • Bridging from Tactile Perception to Proximity Perception



Preliminary Workshop Schedule

November 8th, 2019, 9:00-13:30


Time Talk Comments
09:00 - 09:15 Introduction Organizers (JR, KIT)
09:15 - 09:40 Invited Talk 1 Nikolaus Correll (University of Colorado)
09:40 - 10:05 Industry Talk 1 Hansruedi Früh (F&P Robotics)
10:05 - 10:30 Invited Talk 2

Jelizaveta Konstantinova (Queen Mary University of London; Ocado Technology)

10:30 - 11:30 Poster & Live Demo  
  Coffee break  
11:30 - 11:55 Invited Talk 3 Frédéric Boyer (Ecole des Mines de Nantes)
11:55 - 12:20 Industry Talk 2 Norbert Druml (Infineon Technologies AG)
12:20 - 12:45 Invited Talk 4 Akihiko Yamaguchi (Tohoku University)
12:45 - 13:25 Panel Discussion Organizers & Invited Speaker
13:25 - 13:30 Closing Organizers (JR, KIT)
13:30 - 14:30 Lunch  





Invited Speakers


Nikolaus Correll

University of Colorado at Boulder

Jelizaveta Konstantinova

Queen Mary University of London,

Ocado Technology

Frédéric Boyer

IMT Atlantique Bretagne-Pays de la Loire Ecole Mines-Telecom



Akihiko Yamaguchi

Tohoku University

Hansruedi Früh

F&P Robotics

Norbert Druml

Infineon Technologies AG



Vincent Lebastard

IMT Atlantique Bretagne-Pays de la Loire Ecole Mines-Telecom



Speaker Nikolaus Correll

Invited Talk

Full body proximity sensing and human-robot interaction via sensor/actuator augmented skins
Abstract We describe our recent progress in developing a full-body sensor skin for the Universal Robot UR5 robot. The skin is equipped with a high density array of distance sensors and color LEDs, enabling the robot arm to detect objects as far as 2 meters away and provide feedback to a user. We will describe lessons learned in moving from a 8x8 research prototype, which was capable of differentiating between objects and user gestures using deep learning, to a full body sensor suit and discuss possible applications for mobile manipulation and further research.


Speaker Jelizaveta Konstantinova

Invited Talk

Proximity sensors for grasping applications in robotics
Abstract Proximity and distance estimation sensors are broadly used in robotic hands to enhance the quality of grasping during grasp planning, grasp correction and in-hand manipulation. In this talk I will present my work on short distance fibre optical proximity sensors for grasping and manipulation. I will talk about the design and calibration challenges of these sensors. In the second half of my talk I will describe examples of robotics platforms that would benefit from such systems, as well as cover the associated challenges. Specifically, I will talk about the system developed for EU H2020 SecondHands project.


Speaker Frédéric Boyer / Vincent Lebastard

Invited Talk

Artificial electric sense for underwater robotics: state of the art and perspectives
Abstract Fish that can electrocute their prey have been known since antiquity and inspired Volta to design the first battery. However, the ability of other so-called weakly electric fish to perceive their near surroundings by sensing through a dense array of transcutaneous electroreceptors the perturbations of a self-generated electric field, was only discovered in the 1950's. Remarkably, these fish are able to detect, localize and analyze objects in confined environments and turbid waters, where neither vision nor sonar can work. Named Active Electrolocation by biologists, this perceptual ability recently has drawn the attention of roboticists with the aim of designing a novel generation of underwater robots able to navigate and operate in harsh environmental conditions. In this perspective, this keynote attempts to give a comprehensive overview of the recent progresses in artificial e-sense for underwater robotics. Starting from the fish, we will progressively move toward robotics and address several issues ranging from reactive autonomous navigation, localization and shape recognition, to haptic feedback teleoperation. While progressing, we will attempt to reveal further insights on how nature can inspire engineering.


Speaker Akihiko Yamaguchi

Invited Talk

Vision-based tactile sensor FingerVision for fragile object manipulation

FingerVision is a vision-based tactile sensor consisting of elastic and transparent skin and cameras. It provides multimodal sensation to robots, including force and slip distributions, and nearby object information such as position, orientation, and texture.
In this talk, I will demonstrate the use of FingerVision in manipulation of deformable and fragile objects. The high resolution slip-detection increases the robustness of grasping. It also enables robots to grasp objects with the sense of touch, which improves the sample efficiency of learning grasping. Another feature of FingerVision is giving additional modalities by analyzing (proximity) vision. For example, an application is inspecting the manipulated objects such as food products.


Speaker Hansruedi Früh

Invited Talk

Reliable and context related grasping for autonomous mobile robots

Mobile robot assistants with the mission to manually serve people in all kind of situations are challenged by many factors. What should be picked up where? How to grasp it? What to do with it? How to make sure not to loose it on the way? Once this works, the final act, to place or handover the object correctly is another chellanging task. Is the space free for putting it there, the person attentive and enough close to the robot's working working range? How should it be placed, when released? All these sub-tasks of object handling need much considerations if the whole skill should be performed reliably and appropriately in the actual situation.
To reach such a level, several fields of robot and AI research have to be combined context management, attentional system, situation planning, decision making and sophisticated movement control. All of them involve signal processing and sensor data analysis. To get robust behavior, different sensor modalities are needed, e.g. combinations of visual, tactile and proximity sensors. The execution plan has to be updated continuously to provide flexibility.
F&P has developed a hierarchical scripting system which allows to perform a skill from different initial situations by their mobile robots assistants with sensor-equipped finger grippers. This talk will show how the skills are recombined according to different situations and how reliable performance can be reached by using both, sensor fusion and the context management.


Speaker Norbert Druml

Invited Talk

LiDAR and 3D Imaging for Robotics and Automated Mobility
Abstract Highly automated driving will usher in a major paradigm shift in transportation. It will not only enable radically new use-cases and applications, but will also significantly increase safety for passengers and road users in general. In order to achieve the future goal of highly automated vehicles and automated robots, various redundant and diverse sensor types are required to enable robust environment perception during all possible weather conditions in driving. According to industry and academia, the Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology will be the key enabler, in conjunction with Radar and cameras, for robust and holistic environment perception. This talk will provide an overview of the currently most promising LiDAR and 3D imaging technologies and will discuss the challenges to be solved in order to achieve highly automated driving in the future.




Call for Papers

Click here to download the Call for Papers as PDF.

In this workshop we will have a joint poster and demo session. The prospective participant can aim at presenting novel results with a poster. The submission is in form of a short paper with length of 2 pages (maximum 3 pages). Novel ideas/experimental results are required for acceptance of the paper. Click here to download the LaTex-Template (IEEE template with marking for the workshop).


All submissions will be reviewed using a single-blind review process. Submissions must be sent in PDF to:


iros2019-workshop [at] joanneum.at


indicating [IROS 2019 Workshop] in the e-mail subject.

Accepted Papers will be published at the open access repository KITopen under the Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND).

Submission Deadline: September 2nd
Notification of acceptance: October 2nd
Camera-ready deadline: October 14th
Workshop day: November 4th or 8th

Poster Session:

"Enhanced Human-Machine Interaction by Combining Proximity Sensing with Global Perception"
Authors: Christoph Heindl, Markus Ikeda, Gernot Stubl, Andreas Pichler and Josef Scharinger

"Extended Delta Compression Algorithm for Scanning LiDAR Raw Data Handling"
Authors: Ievgeniia Maksymova, Christian Steger and Norbert Druml

"3D Pose Estimation of Proximity Sensors with Self-Measurement for Calibration"
Authors: Yitao Ding, Felix Wilhelm and Ulrike Thomas


The proceedings can be found here.




Poster and Demo Session

In order to provide the participants of the workshop with hands-on experience on the hardware currently being developed an used, the workshop offers a demo session. Technologies from research and from industry will be shown.


Demos Scientific Participants


Scientific Participant


Akihiko Yamaguchi,
Tohoku University

FingerVision sensor

Yitao Ding and Ulrike Thomas,
TU Chemnitz

Proximity sensing cuffs for robot manipulators

Vincent Lebastard/Frederic Boyer,
Ecole des Mines de Nantes

E-field sensing for bio-inspired Underwater Robotics

Hosam Alagi and Björn Hein,
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Toward safe Human-Robot-Handover Tasks using Material Recognition with Capacitive Proximity Sensors

Stephan Mühlbacher-Karrer,
Hubert Zangl,
Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

Capacitive Sensor for Human Robot Interaction

Stefan Escaida Navarro and
Christian Duriez,
Inria Lille - Nord Europe

Soft pneumatics-based mechanosensor

Keisuke Koyama,
University of Tokyo

Robot hand: pre-grasping and high-speed, soft-touch grasping with high-speed, high-precision proximity feedback


Demos Industrial Participants


Industry Participant


F&P Robotics

P-Grip 2F


Time-of-Flight 3D Imager



Main Organizers:

Hosam Alagi
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
Stephan Mühlbacher-Karrer



Stefan Escaida Navarro

Inra Lille - Nord Europe, France

Keysuke Koyama
University of Tokyo,

Hubert Zangl
Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt, Austria

Björn Hein
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany