Staff exchange between UKBA & IIT

At the start of 2024, two of Comenius University in Bratislava (UKBA) PhD students, Števo and Iveta, were part of a four-week staff exchange at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). This staff exchange was a perfect opportunity for them to gain deeper insight into the world of robotics with the humanoid robot iCub.

One of the primary goals of the visit was to acquire firsthand experience with the robotic infrastructure, which is fruitful for their further research. This was realised by study and usage of the relevant software, getting to know the hardware and following the relevant materials. Moreover, the IIT team extended a warm welcome, inviting them to participate in numerous lab meetings, presentations, and professional discussions.

The information exchange was not exclusively one-sided. Since Iveta and Števo are in the final year of their PhDs, they had the chance to implement and test a deep learning method based on attention, which they proposed specifically for the addressee estimation task for robotic vision. Not only did this model exceed the raw accuracy in the given task, but it is also able to extract reasonable, and more importantly, human-understandable explanations in the form of robot response.

Last but not least, another benefit of the exchange was the networking. By cooperating with people at IIT, our students have made lots of new acquaintances in the field, potentially leading to a natural strengthening of similar cooperation in the future.