RoVi - Robot Vision

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We aim to develop a novel visuo-haptic sensor system for robotic manipulators, which allows for multimodal sensing, reduced system complexity and significantly lower costs compared to current systems. It replaces dedicated force sensors with passive components and a camera, providing coherent measurements of both force and contact shape. 


Intelligent robots rely on sophisticated perception systems for planning and manipulation in complex scenes. Many distributed sensor modules are required, such as cameras, force-torque and tactile sensors. This results in:

  • High hardware complexity
  • High assembly and maintenance costs
  • Complex sensor calibration and synchronization


Our patented technology substitutes active sensor modules for force-torque and tactile data by an external camera and a passive flexible element. Forces applied to the passive element result in a characteristic deformation.

Robust image processing algorithms detect the deformation from the camera image, and provide the applied forces or contact patterns for further control and planning tasks.


  • Low cost – based on ordinary flexible materials
  • Simple hardware – no electronic components and no wiring within the sensitive region
  • Low complexity – hardware replaced by software
  • Adaptability – fits actuators of any shape
  • Compatibility – possible to extend existing systems
  • Rich feedback – visual & tactile data from one sensor
  • Versatility – vision tasks on the same camera  





RoVi exhibited at the A3 Forum

The LMT spin-off project "RoVi" exhibited at the A3 Business Forum in Orlando in January 2018. The A3 Business Forum is the world’s leading annual networking event for robotics, vision & imaging, motion control, and motors professionals.[more]


EXIST-Forschungstransfer Projekt für LMT-Team

Das RoVi-Team am LMT konnte sich erfolgreich um eine EXIST-Forschungstransfer Förderung bewerben. EXIST-Forschungstransfer unterstützt herausragende forschungsbasierte Gründungsvorhaben in Deutschland, die mit aufwändigen und risikoreichen Entwicklungsarbeiten verbunden sind. In den kommenden 18 Monaten wird das Team aus insgesamt drei Ingenieuren und einem Betriebswirt aktuelle Forschungsergebnisse kommerzialisieren, um ein innovatives High-Tech Produkt auf den Markt zu bringen. [more]


RoVi demonstrated a camera-based tactile sensor

RoVi demonstrated a camera-based tactile sensor at the "IEEE World Haptics Conference 2017" in Fürstenfeldbruck. Follow the link below to see a video of the demo on Youtube.[more]


RoVi wins "Best Pitch Award"

RoVi was awarded with the "Best Pitch Award" at the UnternehmerTUM Entrepreneurs' Night!


RoVi receives funding from "Flügge"

RoVi was granted funding from the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology. The so-called "Flügge" program supports early state start-up ideas coming from the universities in Bavaria.


ABB Innovation Challenge

RoVi was selected as one of the ten finalists in the international ABB Robotics Innovation Challenge.


RoVi featured in "Faszination Forschung"

An article about the RoVi project has been published in the latest issue of "Faszination Forschung" (issue 18). Faszination Forschung appears every 6 months and covers exciting ongoing research projects at TUM. The article is available under the link below.[more]


RoVi exhibits at Automatica 2016 in Munich

RoVi will exhibit at the Start Up World during the Automatica trade fair from June 21 - 24. Automatica is the leading trade fair for industrial automation and mechatronics. You can find us at booth B4 430K (hall B4). If you're interested in visiting Automatica 2016, get in contact with us to get a free one-day ticket. [more]

Dr.-Ing. Nicolas Alt

Nicolas Alt studied electrical engineering at the Technische Universität München (Germany) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (USA, France). He graduated from the master program "Systems of Information and Multimedia Technology" in 2008 and also holds a M.Sc. degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. In July 2009 he joined the Chair of Media Technology at the Technische Universität München where he is a member of the research and teaching staff. His current research interests are in the field of haptic-visual modeling for cognitive robots. 


Dr.-Ing. Clemens Schuwerk

Clemens Schuwerk studied Electrical Engineering at the Technische Universität München (Germany). He received the degree "Dipl. Ing. (Univ)" in November 2010. After this he joined the Chair of Media Technology at the Technische Universität München in March 2011, where he is working as a member of the research staff. His research interests lie in the areas of robotics, teleoperation with haptic force feedback and control. He finished his PhD in October 2016.



M.Sc. Stefan Lochbrunner

Stefan Lochbrunner studied Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at the Technische Universität München (Germany). He received the degree "Master of Science" in 2017 and subsequently joined the Chair of Media Technology as a staff member. His skills and expertise include robotics, computer vision and hardware development in general.




Fully camera-based control of a desktop robot arm

A Camera-based Tactile Sensor for Sorting Tasks

Using our camera-based sensor technology to build a sensitive robotic gripper with simple components

Visuo-haptic sensor on a simple gripper

Beer bottle opener

Visuo-Haptic Mapping


The following publications of the people involved in RoVi are directly related to the project.

Journal Papers

N. Alt, E. Steinbach,
Navigation and Manipulation Planning using a Visuo-haptic Sensor on a Mobile Platform,
IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, vol. 63, no. 11, 2014.
Download BibTeX entryDOIDownload fulltext PDF

Papers in Conference Proceedings

N. Alt, J. Xu, E. Steinbach,
Grasp planning for thin-walled deformable objects,
Robotic Hands, Grasping, and Manipulation (ICRA Workshop), Seattle, WA, USA, May 2015.
Download BibTeX entryDownload fulltext PDF
N. Alt, E. Steinbach,
A Visuo-haptic Sensor for the Exploration of Deformable Objects,
Int. Workshop on Autonomous Grasping and Manipulation: An Open Challenge, in conjunction with IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2014), Hong Kong, May 2014.
Download BibTeX entryDownload fulltext PDF
N. Alt, E. Steinbach,
Visuo-haptic sensor for force measurement and contact shape estimation,
Proc. of IEEE Int. Symposium on Haptic Audio-Visual Environments and Games (HAVE), Istanbul, Turkey, October 2013.
Download BibTeX entryDownload fulltext PDF
N. Alt, Q. Rao, E. Steinbach,
Haptic Exploration for Navigation Tasks using a Visuo-Haptic Sensor,
Interactive Perception Workshop, ICRA 2013, Karlsruhe, Germany, May 2013.
Download BibTeX entryDownload fulltext PDF

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We offer topics for Bachelor or Master theses and some student jobs in the areas of:

  • Computer vision
  • Robot control
  • Hardware design and construction

You can find open topics in the list below. Theses can be adapted to your background and personal interests. If you are interested or would like to know more about a topic, just contact us by e-Mail. Please include a short summary of relevant projects, your CV and current transcript.

The offered theses will be conducted within the RoVi project and in collaboration with our team. We'll provide technical advice and support during your work. RoVi aims to transfer research results into products and a startup company and, hence, provides a very interesting work environment.

* This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 680902)