RSS 2019 Workshop
Pervasively neural-dynamic robotics

Do insights from neuroscience, cognitive science, and neuromorphic engineering lead to a radically new vision?
Workshop held at the Robotics Science and Systems (RSS) conference, June 23 (afternoon) in Freiburg/Germany*
*Faculty of Engineering of the University of Freiburg, Georges-Koehler-Allee (not at "Messe Freiburg" where the main conference will take place)

While substantial progress is being made in cognitive robotics, many of us feel that systems now on the horizon will still be a far cry from the original vision of AI as general human-like intelligence acting in the real world. The key limitation may be the lack of autonomy, the ability of a system to behave intelligently in a broad set of situations without the need for specific programming for each task or for a specific learning regime for each new setting. The classical roadblock of linking cognitive architectures to the world through perception, motor control, and background knowledge is being shifted by powerful methods of neurally inspired machine learning and probabilistic reasoning. But, at their core, today's cognitive robots are still driven by conventional algorithmic frameworks that integrate diverse mathematical methods into what resembles classical cognitive architectures. Is that fact a key obstacle to true autonomy of behavior, cognition, and learning?

A radical alternative is to abandon the hybrid approach and seek pervasively neural systems that use no conventional forms of information processing. Such systems would instead generate activation patterns linked to sensors, motors, and neural memory systems and may ultimately be implemented directly in neuromorphic hardware. Early success were achieved for low-level robotic systems that were largely input driven. Recent progress in neural dynamics may unlock cognition for such systems by enabling the generation of activation patterns from within the neural networks, not primarily from input. Dynamic instabilities then generate sequences of activation states to perform cognitive operations.

Our goal in the workshop is to critically discuss roadblocks toward autonomy of neuronal architectures. We will bring together diverse ideas toward a vision of pervasively neural cognitive processing. We will lay out a road-map for such a radical neural vision of autonomous intelligence.

List of topics

  • neuronal architectures for perception, cognition, and motor control
  • neurorobotics
  • neuromorphic hardware in robotics
  • autonomy of neural-network based systems
  • neuronal cognitive architectures

Invited Speakers


Arren Glover

Neuromorphic Technology for Robotics IIT Central Research Labs, Genoa, Italy

Talk title: Event-based computing architectures in robotics


Paul Verschure

Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems (SPECS), Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia, Spain

Talk title: Building robotic architectures that organize behavior based on drives and motivations


Florentin Wörgötter

Bernstein Center, Department of Computational Neuroscience, 3rd Physics Institute, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany

Talk title: Trying to transfer human action- and object semantics to machines. Does this work


Xinyun Zou

Cognitive Anteater Robotics Laboratory (CARL) led by Prof. Jeff Krichmar, University of California, Irvine, USA

Talk title: Neuronal robotic controllers



Yulia Sandamirskaya

Institute of Neuroinformatics, University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Talk title: Autonomy and architectures for visual perception


Gregor Schöner

Institut für Neuroinformatik, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany

Talk title: Building neural dynamic architectures that generate higher cognition from sensory-motor grounding


Univ. Freiburg, Faculty of Engineering
Georges-Köhler-Allee 101
79110 Freiburg

Workshop WS2-6 in building 82
Room 00 006

Program (preliminary)

Time Topic Speaker Talk
13:00 - 13:30 Radical neural vision for autonomous intelligence: the neural-dynamic perspective Gregor Schöner download
13:30 - 14:00 Building robotic architectures that organize behavior based on drives and motivations Paul Verschure
14:00 - 14:30 Radical neural vision for autonomous intelligence: the neuromorphic perspective Yulia Sandamirskaya download
14:30 - 15:00 Coffee break
15:00 - 16:00 Demos/interactive sessions and posters
16:00 - 16:30 Event-based computing architectures in robotics Arren Glover download
16:30 - 17:00 Neuronal robotic controllers Xinyun Zou download
17:00 - 17:30 Panel discussion
17:30 - 17:40 Concluding remarks