Science of Intelligence

We are excited to announce that the joint proposal of TU Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin “Science of Intelligence” has been chosen as one of the successful Clusters of Excellence in Germany!

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More information can be found here:

New DFG SPP The Active Self

Our proposal for initiating a new DFG Priority Programme was successful, “The Active Self” is now one of 17 new DFG SPPs in 2017 in Germany!

The active self (SPP 2134)

The Priority Programme brings together cognitive and behavioural scientists from various disciplines, including psychology and robotics, to study the sensorimotor grounding of the human minimal self – a concept that relates to a person’s phenomenal experience in the here and now and to the question of how we perceive ourselves to be in a particular situation. While this experience is likely to be dominated by information delivered by the senses, i.e., by self-perception in a literal, immediate sense, humans also have knowledge about themselves, amassed over years, and a sense of understanding how their self relates to others.

The relatively recent increasing interest in the self is fueled by important methodological improvements, such as the availability of virtual-reality techniques and affordable robots with humanoid characteristics, and the development of noninvasive methods to study cognition in infants, but also by converging lines of theoretical thinking related to ideomotor processes on the one hand and embodied cognition on the other. The programme will seek to unravel the degree to which our self-representation is plastic and sensitive to immediate experience, to which degree it is constrained by past experience, how it integrates experiences of agency and action-ownership, how it affects other cognitive processes, and to what degree self-representation can be established in artificial agents.

Foto: Natallia Vintsik /

Programme committee and team of coordinators:
Prof. Dr. Verena Hafner (Coordinator and Deputy Speaker); Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department of Computer Science, Adaptive Systems
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Hommel (Scientific Coordinator and Speaker); Leiden University, Leiden (NL), Cognitive Psychology
Prof. Dr. Markus Paulus (Coordinator and Deputy Speaker); Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Developmental Psychology

DFG Call Website:

SPP Website:

NaoTH reaches quarterfinals at RoboCup Leipzig

Our RoboCup SPL team “Berlin United - NaoTH” was successful in many ways in this year’s RoboCup world championship in Leipzig.
We were third place in the new outdoor challenge, reached the quarter finals in the main competition, and took part in the Allstars challenge.


adapt village at CCCamp 2015

Our group participated with a village and demonstrations at the Chaos Communication Camp 2015 in Zehdenick.
Twice a day, we performed humanoid robot football test matches and showed various robotics experiments to a highly interested and skilled audience.


NaoTH in RoboCup Quarter Finals

Das Roboterfußballteam "Berlin United - NaoTH” der Humboldt-Universität ist als Viertelfinalist von der Weltmeisterschaft RoboCup in China zurückgekehrt. Zusätzlich wurde ein Spieler des NaoTH Teams als einer der Top-fünf Spieler der Liga für das “All-Star” Team ausgewählt. Die WM fand im Juli diesen Jahres in Hefei, einer Stadt 400km westlich von Schanghai, in China statt. Mehr als 300 Teams aus 47 Ländern traten dabei in den verschiedenen Ligen bei tropischen Bedingungen, die den Menschen und Robotern zu schaffen machten, gegeneinander an.


ECAL presentation

The following paper will be presented at ECAL on July 24:

Berthold, O. and Hafner, V.V.,
Closed-loop acquisition of behaviour on the Sphero robot, paper accepted for oral presentation at ECAL 2015.

Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften

Die Präsentation unseres Berlin-United NaoTH Teams auf der LNdW 2015 war wie schon in den letzten Jahren ein voller Erfolg beim Publikum.


Our RoboCup team NaoTH wins two 3rd prices

Zwei Dritte Plätze für das Nao Team Humboldt

Das Roboterfußballteam "Berlin United - Nao Team Humboldt" (NaoTH) der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin hat mit zwei dritten Plätzen bei den lokalen Meisterschaften in Deutschland und im Iran, mit fünf bzw. neun teilnehmenden Teams, einen sehr erfolgreichen Start in die neue Saison geschafft.

Die Weltmeisterschaft wird einmal im Jahr an unterschiedlichen Orten der Welt ausgetragen. Die kommende Weltmeisterschaft findet Mitte Juli in China statt. Neben der Weltmeisterschaft existiert eine ganze Reihe lokaler Meisterschaften in verschiedenen Ländern. Dabei werden die Regeln jedes Jahr etwas schwieriger gemacht um die Entwicklung der Roboter voran zu treiben. Zur neuen technischen Herausforderungen in dieser Saison zählen insbesondere weiße Tore sowie die Regel, dass ab dem Halbfinale der Spielbeginn durch einen Anpfiff signalisiert wird, welchen die Roboter erkennen müssen.

Aktuell bereitet sich das Team unter Hochdruck auf die kommende Weltmeisterschaft vor, die vom 17.06 bis zum 23.06 in Hefei / China stattfinden wird.

Weitere Informationen können auf der Internetseite des Teams gefunden werden:

EARS project presents first results in Grenoble

The EARS partners presented the first results of the EARS project - Embodied Audition for RobotS - in Grenoble.
The live demos included robot head motions optimized for both audio information and intuitive HRI, internal simulations and dynamic blind source separation.


You can also follow @ears_eu on twitter to get the latest news on robot audition.

Semesterprojekt-Vorstellung an den Tagen der Forschung

Die Ergebnisse des Semesterprojekts “Softwaretechniken für kooperierende Roboterteams” wurden von unseren Studierenden mit Präsentationen und Experimenten vorgestellt. Zu Besuch waren insgesamt 20 Schülerinnen und Schüler von zwei Gymnasien. Mehr Informationen zum Semesterprojekt:


Best paper award at SAB 2014

The cooperation between Zurich, Leipzig and Berlin led to the best paper award at SAB!

Martius, G., Jahn, L., Hauser, H., Hafner, V.V. (2014), Self-Exploration of the Stumpy Robot with Predictive Information Maximization, From Animals to Animats 13, 13th International Conference on Simulation of Adaptive Behavior (SAB2014), pp. 32-42, Springer Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 8575.


Berlin United - Nao Team Humboldt goes to Brazil

Our humanoid robots Nao and their human coaches will participate in this year’s Robot Football World Championship “RoboCup” in Brazil!

(picture by Berliner Morgenpost)

update: We reached the quarter finals with a 3:1 against the team SPQR from Rome!

More information and live updates here:

Ivana Kajic wins prestigious Google prize

The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship

Congratulations to Ivana who has won a prestigious 7000 € Google scholarship for female IT students!
Ivana studied at
BCCN Berlin and wrote her Master thesis in our group on “A Biologically Inspired Model for Coding Sensorimotor Experience Leading to the Development of Pointing Behaviour in a Humanoid Robot”. She has now started her PhD research at Plymouth University, UK, within the CogNovo Project.

Ivana Kajic
(picture by CogNovo)

Humboldt-Princeton Centre for Reality Mining of Animal-Human Systems

We will be part of a newly established Humboldt-Princeton Centre for Reality Mining of Animal-Human Systems led by Prof. Arlinghaus (HU) and Prof. Couzin (Princeton).
Reality mining involves the collection and analysis of machine-sensed data regarding animal and animal-human social behaviour. It constitutes a highly innovative and largely overlooked research direction involving biologists, physicists and computer scientists.

Preis für beste Diplomarbeiten

Am diesjährigen Tag der Informatik der HU Berlin wurde Kirill Yasinovskiy mit einem Preis für die beste Diplomarbeit ausgezeichnet!
Das Thema der Arbeit war “Visuelle Aufmerksamkeitsmodelle für autonome Roboter”.


Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

new funding for GRK "Sensory Computation in Neural Systems"

The Research Training Group "Sensory Computation in Neural Systems" coordinated by Prof. Dr. Klaus Obermayer from TU Berlin receives further funding from the German Research Foundation until 2019. We are looking forward to further exciting research projects with new doctoral researchers!

Master defense Ivana Kajic

Ivana successfully defended her Master thesis at BCCN today. Congratulations!!!


Dagstuhl Seminar on "Spatial reference in the Semantic Web and Robotics"

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We’ve organised a Dagstuhl Seminar (14142) on
Spatial reference in the Semantic Web and in Robotics


Simon Scheider (Universität Münster, DE)
Aldo Gangemi (CNR-ISTC National Research Council – Rom, IT)
Verena V. Hafner (HU Berlin, DE)
Werner Kuhn (University of California – Santa Barbara, US)
Luc Steels (Free University of Brussels, BE)

Girls Day 2014

Last Thursday, March 27, 2014, we had a visit from a group of 20 girls who had lots of fun building robots from cubelets. The robot on the picture is a scribble robot that could be steered using hand gestures. Can you guess how it works?


HRI conference in Bielefeld

Our group participated at HRI2014 in Bielefeld with two posters, a video, one workshop paper and one workshop invited talk:

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Verena Hafner: Invited talk on „Robot Attentional Models for Intuitive HRI“, Workshop on „
Attention Models in Robotics: Visual Systems for Better HRI“, HRI conference, Bielefeld, Germany (March 3, 2014).

Kajic, I., Schillaci, G., Bodiroza, S. and Hafner, V.V. (2014), Learning hand-eye coordination for a humanoid robot using SOMs, Proceedings of the 9th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI 2014), pp. 192-193, Bielefeld, Germany.

Blum, C., Berthold, O., Rhan, P. and Hafner, V.V. (2014), Intuitive control of small flying robots, Proceedings of the 9th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI 2014), pp. 128-129, Bielefeld, Germany.

Kajic, I., Schillaci, G., Bodiroza, S. and Hafner, V.V. (2014), A Biologically Inspired Model for Coding Sensorimotor Experience Leading to the Development of Pointing Behaviour in a Humanoid Robot, Workshop on “HRI: a bridge between Robotics and Neuroscience” at HRI2014, Bielefeld, Germany.

Jevtic, A., Doisy, G., Bodiroza, S., Edan, Y. and Hafner, V.V. (2014), "Human-Robot Interaction Through 3D Vision and Force Control”, video at the 9th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI 2014).

Open PhD position in GRK "Sensory Computation in Neural Systems”

PhD fellowships (DFG GRK 1589/1) are available in the Research training group “Sensory Computation in Neural Systems”. The Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience (BCCN) Berlin invites applications for fellowships of its new graduate school “Sensory Computations in Neural Systems” (GRK 1589/1). The scientific program of the research training group “Sensory Computation in Neural Systems” is focused on sensory coding and perception. The fellowships of approximately 1500 €/month will be granted for up to three years.
Potential projects involve computational and robotic models to test hypotheses on e.g. task- and knowledge dependent decision making, imitation learning, behaviour recognition, mirror systems, sensorimotor interaction.
Please contact me with a concrete research proposal if you are interested. You need to have a background in Computer Science / AI / Robotics / Computational Neuroscience.

Application Deadline (directly to the GRK) is March 15, 2014!

New EU project EARS on Embodied Audition for RobotS

The European project EARS, starting on January 1, 2014 for a period of three years, will address the fundamental problem of how to model and implement robot audition. The Cognitive Robotics group at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Prof. Verena Hafner) will be one of six partners: University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany (Prof. Walter Kellermann, project coordinator), Imperial College London, UK (Prof. Patrick Naylor), Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel (Prof. Boaz Rafaely), INRIA, France (Prof. Radu Horaud), and Aldebaran Robotics, France (Dr. Rodolphe Gelin).

Summary. The success of future natural intuitive human-robot interaction (HRI) will critically depend on how responsive the robot will be to all forms of human expressions and how well it will be aware of its environment. With acoustic signals distinctively characterizing physical environments and speech being the most effective means of communication among humans, truly humanoid robots must be able to fully extract the rich auditory information from their environment and to use voice communication as much as humans do. While vision-based HRI is well developed, current limitations in robot audition do not allow for such an effective, natural acoustic human-robot communication in real-world environments, mainly because of the severe degradation of the desired acoustic signals due to noise, interference and reverberation when captured by the robot’s microphones. To overcome these limitations, EARS will provide intelligent “ears” with close-to-human auditory capabilities and use it for HRI in complex real-world environments. Novel microphone arrays and powerful signal processing algorithms shall be able to localize and track multiple sound sources of interest and to extract and recognize the desired signals.

After fusion with robot vision, embodied robot cognition will then derive HRI actions and knowledge on the entire scenario, and feed this back to the acoustic interface for further auditory scene analysis. As a prototypical application, EARS will consider a welcoming robot in a hotel lobby offering all the above challenges. Representing a large class of generic applications, this scenario is of key interest to industry and, thus, a leading European robot manufacturer will integrate EARS’s results into a robot platform for the consumer market and validate it. In addition, the provision of open-source software and an advisory board with key players from the relevant robot industry should help to make EARS a turnkey project for promoting audition in the robotics world.

Update 03/2014: The
EARS webpage is now online.

ShanghAI-Lectures and embed-it competition

For the fourth time in a row now, HU Berlin takes part in the ShanghAI-Lectures, a global course on Embodied Artificial Intelligence. Guest lecturers include many well-known scientists in the field, including Tamar Flash, Kevin O’Regan, Luisa Damiano, Cecilia Laschi, Angelo Cangelosi, and Danica Kragic.
shanghai logo
Our local course included an exercise with the embed-it setup developed by Dorit Assaf, check out the video of the resulting creature:

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Humboldt Kinder-Uni 2013

Können Roboter lernen?
Am 12.9.2013 haben fast 300 Kinder im Grundschulalter an der Kinder-Universität teilgenommen und herausgefunden, ob Roboter lernen können.

Dagstuhl Seminar on "Spatial reference in the Semantic Web and Robotics"

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From March 30 until April 4, 2014, we’re organising a Dagstuhl Seminar (14142) on
Spatial reference in the Semantic Web and in Robotics

Simon Scheider (Universität Münster, DE)
Aldo Gangemi (CNR-ISTC National Research Council – Rom, IT)
Verena V. Hafner (HU Berlin, DE)
Werner Kuhn (University of California – Santa Barbara, US)
Luc Steels (Free University of Brussels, BE)

RoboCup Eindhoven

The Berlin-United NaoTH team participated in the RoboCup world championship on Soccer Robots in Eindhoven this year. We’re among the 16 best teams in the SPL (Standard platform league) and had a lot of fun.
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Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften

Die Präsentation des Berlin-United NaoTH Teams auf der LNdW 2013 war wie schon in den letzten Jahren ein voller Erfolg beim Publikum.

German-Israeli Minerva School on Cognitive Robotics

We will be organising a German-Israeli Minerva School on Cognitive Robotics together with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in March 2014 in Germany. The school will include talks and interactive workshops from different fields such as Robotics, Psychology, Cognitive Science and Neurosciences. We received funding through the Minerva foundation and BMBF, who support only one such school per year (
body babbling
Update: We now have a Webpage for our event.

Preise für beste Diplomarbeiten

Am diesjährigen Tag der Informatik der HU Berlin wurden gleich zwei KORO students mit einem Preis für die beste Diplomarbeit ausgezeichnet

Mathias Müller (Diplomarbeit 2012 zu “Omnidirektionale visuelle Navigation für Flugroboter”) und
Oswald Berthold (KORO PhD student, Diplomarbeit 2012 zu “Self-reconfiguring System-on-Chip using Linux on a Virtex-5 FPGA” bei Frau Prof. Meffert)

Herzlichen Glückwunsch!