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Yves Deswarte, Directeur de Recherche at LAAS-CNRS, passed away on Monday 27th January 2014.

27 janvier 2014

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Yves obtained his engineer degree from the Institut Supérieur d’Electronique du Nord (I.S.E.N.), Lille, in 1972, and ENSAE (SupAero), Toulouse, in 1973.  He started his professional career as an R&D engineer at CIMSA in 1973. Then he joined INRIA in 1979 where he co-leaded the SURF pilot project in collaboration with the TSF group. He became a permanent researcher of this team in 1984. He was seconded to CNRS in 1998, before joining as permanent staff in 2000. Yves also spent a sabbatical period at Microsoft Cambridge (UK) in 1999 and was  "Prime Investigator" of the DARPA DIT project, with SRI International, during the period 2000-2003.
Yves was a passionate and visionary researcher who made several major research contributions during his career. As an engineer, he contributed to the emergence during the 70's of two essential technologies: micro-computing and packet switched networks. In the 80's, he developed innovative distributed architectures that were tolerant to both accidental and malicious threats. During his career at INRIA and CNRS, he was a major actor in computer security in France and at the international level. He co-advised several generations of doctorate students and engineers. He obtained significant research results in this area, e.g., in intrusion tolerance and security assessment, or more recently on privacy protection. He was in particular a prominent advocate of the concept of a "white" ID card, allowing users to be authenticated while disclosing only a minimum amount of personal information. He obtained the Kristian Beckman Award from IFIP TC-11 and Outstanding Service Awards from IFIP and ESORICS. He also held several responsibilities within IFIP TC-11 and the ESORICS Conference. He was an emeritus member of the SEE.
Unanimously appreciated by his colleagues, Yves was a likeable person, passionate about his work and particularly invested for the success of the students and researchers that he advised during his career.

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Jean-Paul Laumond, researcher at LAAS in Robotics, recipient of an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council

30 septembre 2013


The European Research Council, ERC, has just published the results of the Advanced Grant 2013 call. Jean-Paul Laumond, senior researcher in the field of robotics at LAAS-CNRS, has been selected for his project Actanthrope : Computational Foundations of Anthropomorphic Action.
This highly selective grant funds projects of Europe's best researchers in order to stimulate exploratory research and to enable them to pursue their most ground-braking ideas. Of the 2408 submissions, 284 were distinguished in 18 countries. France will host 35, 13 carried by CNRS researchers.
Actanthrope intends to promote a neuro-robotics perspective to explore original models of anthropomorphic action. The project targets contributions to humanoid robot autonomy (for rescue and service robotics), to advanced human body simulation (for applications in ergonomics), and to a new theory of embodied intelligence (by promoting a motion-based semiotics of the human action).
ERC Advanced Grant funding targets researchers have already established themselves as researchers leader in their own right. The attribution to Jean-Paul Laumond also highlights the entire humanoid robotics theme at LAAS. Indeed, under his leadership, research is devoted to, since 2004, the study of anthropomorphic movement in two main directions : humanoid robotics and modeling of human movement in conjunction with neuroscience. The Gepetto team, which he founded in 2006 in this spirit, carries out its work in a remarkable scientific cohésion. Gepetto is also involved into several other European projects.

Jean-Paul Laumond, IEEE Fellow, is a roboticist. He is Directeur de Recherche at LAAS-CNRS (team Gepetto) in Toulouse, France. He received the M.S. degree in Mathematics, the Ph.D. in Robotics and the Habilitation from the University Paul Sabatier at Toulouse in 1976, 1984 and 1989 respectively. From 1976 to 1983 he was teacher in Mathematics. He joined CNRS in 1985. In Fall 1990 he has been invited senior scientist from Stanford University. He has been a member of the French Comité National de la Recherche Scientifique from 1991 to 1995. He has been a co-director of the French-Japanese lab JRL from 2005 to 2008.

He has been coordinator of two the European Esprit projects PROMotion (Planning RObot Motion, 1992-1995) and MOLOG (Motion for Logistics, 1999 - 2002), both dedicated to robot motion planning and control. In 2001 and 2002 he created and managed Kineo CAM, a spin-off company from LAAS-CNRS devoted to develop and market motion planning technology. Kineo CAM was awarded the French Research Ministery prize for innovation and enterprise in 2000 and the third IEEE-IFR prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation in 2005. Siemens acquired Kineo CAM in 2012.

In 2006, he launched the research team Gepetto dedicated to Anthropomorphic Motion studies along three perspectives: artificial motion for humanoid robots, virtual motion for digital actors and mannequins, and natural motions of human beings.

He teaches Robotics at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. He has edited three books. He has published more than 150 papers in international journals and conferences in Robotics, Computer Science, Automatic Control and recently in Neurosciences.

He has been the 2011-2012 recipient of the Chaire Innovation technologique Liliane Bettencourt at Collège de France in Paris. 

Actanthrope : Computational Foundations of Anthropomorphic Action
Actanthrope intends to promote a neuro-robotics perspective to explore original models of anthropomorphic action. The project targets contributions to humanoid robot autonomy (for rescue and service robotics), to advanced human body simulation (for applications in ergonomics), and to a new theory of embodied intelligence (by promoting a motion-based semiotics of the human action). Actions take place in the physical space while they originate in the –robot or human– sensory-motor space. Geometry is the core abstraction that makes the link between these spaces. The quest of the project is to explore which geometry would be the best to account for the computational foundations of the anthropomorphic actions. The anthropomorphic body is a complex structure that is both redundant for manipulation tasks, and underactuated for locomotion. Considering that the structure of actions inherits from that of the anthropomorphic body, the underlying intuition is that actions can be segmented within discrète sub-spaces lying in the entire continuous posture space. Such sub-spaces are viewed as symbols bridging deliberative reasoning and reactive control. Acthantrope argues that geometric approaches to motion segmentation and generation are promising and innovative routes to explore embodied intelligence:
- Motion segmentation: what are the sub-manifolds that define the structure of a given action?
- Motion generation: among all the solution paths within a given sub-manifold, what is the underlying law that converges to the selection of a particular motion?
In Robotics these questions are related to the stimulating competition between abstract symbol manipulation and physical signal processing. In Computational Neuroscience the questions refer to the quest of motion invariants. The ambition of the project is to promote a dual perspective: exploring the computational foundations of human action to make better robots, while simultaneously doing better robotics to better understand human action.

A unique “Anthropomorphic Action Factory” grounds the methodology that promotes an engineering perspective to study the two main components of a physical action: locomotion and manipulation. The “Factory” aims at attracting to a single lab, researchers with complementary know-how and solid mathematical background. All of them will benefit from unique equipments, while being stimulated by two challenges on dynamic locomotion and by two challenges involving manipulation capabilities.

Biophysical investigation of chromosome folding and dynamics

30 septembre 2013


Chromosomes direct the compaction of long DNA fragments in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells. The rules that govern the folding of chromosomes are progressively uncovered owing to the development of modern high-throughput genome-wide molecular biology techniques. These findings are obtained by cross-disciplinary researches involving physics, statistics, and biology, and they shed new light on the mechanisms of gene regulation and genome maintenance.
In addition to biochemical interactions involving e.g. proteins, which are mapped with a spatial resolution sometimes nearing the base-pair level, the role of biophysical mechanisms in the organization of chromosomes has been increasingly acknowledged. The polymeric nature of chromosomes (that is, their composition in repetitive structural units) has in particular led to structural predictions that follow universal rules independent of the local chemical composition of chromosomes. The physical principles associated to the motion of chromosomes have remained sparsely studied, and research team from Toulouse (LAAS and LBME) and Paris (LPTMC) set out to test the predictions of polymer physics to recapitulate chromosome spatial dynamics. Using innovative high-throughput microscopy techniques, the movements of chromosomes were investigated in different chromosomes of the bakers’ yeast. The folding and the spatial fluctuations appeared to consistent with physical models of polymers. In addition the analysis of the amplitude of spatial fluctuations indicated that yeast chromatin was highly flexible, in fact much more flexible than the DNA itself. This result sheds new light on the dynamics of chromosomes, and has profound implications for yeast genome architecture and for target search mechanisms in the nucleus.

Figure above : Live cell imaging of living yeast allows for the detection of the nucleolus, one chromosome locus, and the nuclear periphery, which appear as a red region, a green spot, and a green rim in the right panel, respectively. The analysis of spatial fluctuations defines an architectural model of the yeast based on polymer physics, as represented in the left panel.

Références :
1- Albert B, Mathon J, Shukla A, Saad H, Normand C, Villa D, Kamgoue A, Mozziconacci J, Wong H, Zimmer C, Bhargava P, Bancaud A, Gadal O (2013) “Systematic characterization of the conformation and dynamics of budding yeast chromosome XII” Journal of Cell Biology DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201208186.
2- Hajjoul H, Mathon J, Ranchon H, Goiffon I, Mozziconacci J, Albert B, Carrivain P Victor JM, Gadal O, Bystrikcy K, Bancaud A (2013) "High throughput chromatin motion tracking in living yeast reveals the flexibility of the fiber throughout the genome" accepted in Genome Research 

Contact : Aurélien Bancaud, abancaud@laas.fr

Death of Georges Giralt, Robotics pioneer

11 février 2013


Georges Giralt passed away on Sunday, 10th of February at the age of 82. He helped create LAAS alongside Jean Lagasse and the entire team of founders.

George was a true visionary with a remarkable clairvoyance and scientific guide of the laboratory. His broad spectrum of scientific expertise made him the instigator of the genesis scientific areas of LAAS-CNRS:

  • PhD in Electronics in 1958, on a particularly innovative aspect on the foundations of electronic controls using semiconductor: high voltages and high currents.
  • Initiator of the "Electronic Components" research activity with Henri Martinot and Bernard André in the mid-60s, which led to the LAAS "micro and nanosystems" area today.
    His work earned him the CNRS silver medal in 1972.
  • Founder of the LAAS "Robotics and Artificial Intelligence" area in the mid 70s after his sojourn at the University of Berkeley. This led to the success that we know and earned him major recognition in France and worldwide, such as the prestigious international Joseph Engelberger which prize that was awarded to him in 1997.

Very attached to the CNRS that he had joined in 1956, Georges Giralt was a distinguished and brilliant scientist. Thanks to his charisma and conviction, he was also able to mobilize and energize all those who knew him and worked with him: there are many in this case! LAAS has lost his second co-founder and knows how much it owes to this strong, passionate and great man with a rare humanity.

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We invite you to follow this exemplary career through some video testimonies recorded in 2008 by the Toulouse University scientific  heritage safeguarding Dpt (in French).

Online videos (a few minutes each, total 36 min)
- The origins of a vocation: decisive meeting with Jean Lagasse
- The beginnings of electronics: the experience of the CERN - The beginnings of electronics research laboratory, interview with Roland Prajoux
- The Adventure of LAAS - LAAS in 2008, interview of Raja Chatila, head of Laas
- The sabbatical at Berkeley, University of California, USA
- Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

- Towards an autonomous robot: experience Hilare 1977, interview with Roland Prajoux - The "manipulation of cubes", one of the first experiments in robotics laboratory by Roland Prajoux
- The National ARA (Advanced Automation and Robotics)

- ARA presented by Rachid Alami (Head of pole robotics and artificial intelligence at LAAS)
- The robots onsite planetary program (RISP) - After the crawler, the service robot and robot air ... by Raja Chatila, LAAS Head
- Conclusion: the robot and the human cohabitation what tomorrow? Applications of robotics by Rachid Alami

Amit Kumar Pandey finalist of the 2013 Georges Giralt PhD Award

17 février 2013


  After two review rounds among 37 submissions, Amit Kumar Pandey, who defended his PhD thesis on June 20, 2012, has been selected, along with two others, as a finalist for the 12th Georges Giralt PhD Award. The award will be presented at the next European Robotics Forum on March 20, 2013 in Lyon. Issued by EURON, European Robotics Research Network, this annual award is named Georges Giralt, co-founder of LAAS and roboticist, in recognition of his decisive influence in the 1970s, in the foundation of a European community of robotics. Georges Giralt died on 10 February 2013.



A LAAS team wins the security challenge of SSTIC

22 octobre 2012


Two researchers of TSF team, Eric Alata and Fernand Lone Sang, have
solved the SSTIC Challenge, and they are the only team awarded for the challenge. Three other individuals have been awarded for solving the challenge. For their solution, the TSF researchers had to develop their own reverse engineering tools (decompiler, debugger, emulator, etc.).

As part of the conference SSTIC, an annual challenge of security is offered to the scientific community around safety. The challenge this year was organized by CERT-Lexsi, EADS Innovation Works and ANSSI. It was to find an email address contained in an encrypted file itself stored in a
corrupted hard disk image.

The all-terrain robot Mana from LAAS to ELROB

18 octobre 2012


Around 10 academic and industrial teams in Europe participate in these meetings designed to test the limits of capabilities of robots with a huge requirement.

LAAS participated to the ELROB event (European Land Robot Trial), held in Thun (Switzerland), Sept. 24-28. In this event all-terrain robots are tested realistic conditions in various scenarios: navigation, replay of previously learned trajectories, exploration of a given area. The laboratory has evaluated and demonstrated the autonomous navigation capabilities of the robot Mana, in particularly difficult conditions: woodlands, rough and slippery terrains...

The participation in this event helped to identify some issues (detecting water holes, locomotion control on slippery terrains). Developments carried out in the laboratory have also been validated, such as precise 100 Hz localization by fusing vision and inertial sensors, or a distributed architecture for the supervision of all the on board processes.

Best paper at ECEC'2012 conference

01 octobre 2012


Article "A Semantic Adaptive Framework for Collaborative System" by Aymen Kamoun, Saïd Tazi et Khalil Drira

Best paper, ECEC'2012, 18-20 April, 2012 


The collaboration environments are context sensitive; they may be subject of modification whenever parameters of use change. Dynamic adaptation is a key issue to enable continuity of collaboration and communication.

In this context, the collaborative development of products provides new challenges in distributed systems. It requires continuous communication and exchanges between teams of collaborators having different roles and using different tools. A global model of collaboration is necessary to guarantee the quality of communication and to ensure adaptability and interoperability between tools whatever may happen. In this paper, we present a framework for collaborative model-based services development that supports a semantic adaptation model. This framework enables a dynamic deployment of component that is triggered by the change of collaboration context such as the arrival/absence or change of roles and tasks of actors. In this article, the implementation of the framework and its conceptual model are presented. A test case for collaborative software development has been developed to validate the framework.

ECEC'2012The conference aim of the 19th annual European Concurrent Engineering Conference, ECEC'2012 is to provide European Researchers with a forum, where they can discuss the latest developments linked to concurrent engineering focused on European research projects. ECEC'2012 aims to identify the progress that has been made in Concurrent Engineering/Lean Manufacturing over the last year. A special focus of the ECEC'2012 will be the influence of Digital Direct Manufacturing, also known as additive manufacturing and the new directions in Lean Manufacturing.

Furthermore, ECEC'2012 will feature a special workshop on Factory Planning and Control for Small and Medium sized Enterprises organized by the Polytechnic Institute of Castillo Branco in Portugal. The ECEC helps the dissemination of information and exploitation of results from the research and technical development and provides a forum for the exchange of experiences in developing and implementing CE based solutions across the wide spectrum of manufacturing and engineering industries. The conference is targeted at industrial enterprises, industrial associations, universities and research institutes.

European project Flagship Guardian Angels for a Smarter Life

31 mai 2012


The LAAS is a partner of the European Flagship Guardian Angels for a Smarter Life. Projects Flagships are large-scale initiatives to accomplish an objective scientific visionary to 10 years. The system developed in the Guardian Angels project will have applications for health, improving the city environment, monitoring of industrial environments and accident prevention. The LAAS provides expert on wifi communications in this project.

FET Flagship links:

Contact: Daniela Dragomirescu, LAAS-CNRS

Wisea, to support the Power Semiconductor Industry

20 avril 2012


 For a sustained support of research in wide energy bandgap semiconductor materials and technologies, Fraunhofer IISB in Erlangen, Germany, and Institut Carnot LAAS-CNRS, Toulouse, France, initiated the foundation of the Wide Bandgap Semi-conductor Alliance WISEA.

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