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  1. null (Ed.)
    As systems that utilize computer vision move into the public domain, methods of calibration need to become easier to use. Though multi-plane LiDAR systems have proven to be useful for vehicles and large robotic platforms, many smaller platforms and low cost solutions still require 2D LiDAR combined with RGB cameras. Current methods of calibrating these sensors make assumptions about camera and laser placement and/or require complex calibration routines. In this paper we propose a new method of feature correspondence in the two sensors and an optimization method capable of calibration target with unknown lengths in its geometry. Our system is designed with an inexperienced layperson as the intended user, which has lead us to remove as many assumptions about both the target and laser as possible. We show that our system is capable of calibrating the 2-sensor system from a single sample in configurations other methods are unable to handle. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
    This paper presents a novel approach to robot task learning from language-based instructions, which focuses on increasing the complexity of task representations that can be taught through verbal instruction. The major proposed contribution is the development of a framework for directly mapping a complex verbal instruction to an executable task representation, from a single training experience. The method can handle the following types of complexities: 1) instructions that use conjunctions to convey complex execution constraints (such as alternative paths of execution, sequential or nonordering constraints, as well as hierarchical representations) and 2) instructions that use prepositions and multiple adjectives to specify action/object parameters relevant for the task. Specific algorithms have been developed for handling conjunctions, adjectives and prepositions as well as for translating the parsed instructions into parameterized executable task representations. The paper describes validation experiments with a PR2 humanoid robot learning new tasks from verbal instruction, as well as an additional range of utterances that can be parsed into executable controllers by the proposed system. 
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  3. Hagfish depart so much from other fishes anatomically that they were sometimes considered not fully vertebrate. They may represent: (i) an anatomically primitive outgroup of vertebrates (the morphology-based craniate hypothesis); or (ii) an anatomically degenerate vertebrate lineage sister to lampreys (the molecular-based cyclostome hypothesis). This systematic conundrum has become a prominent case of conflict between morphology- and molecular-based phylogenies. To date, the fossil record has offered few insights to this long-branch problem or the evolutionary history of hagfish in general, because unequivocal fossil members of the group are unknown. Here, we report an unequivocal fossil hagfish from the early Late Cretaceous of Lebanon. The soft tissue anatomy includes key attributes of living hagfish: cartilages of barbels, postcranial position of branchial apparatus, and chemical traces of slime glands. This indicates that the suite of characters unique to living hagfish appeared well before Cretaceous times. This new hagfish prompted a reevaluation of morphological characters for interrelationships among jawless vertebrates. By addressing nonindependence of characters, our phylogenetic analyses recovered hagfish and lampreys in a clade of cyclostomes (congruent with the cyclostome hypothesis) using only morphological data. This new phylogeny places the fossil taxon within the hagfish crown group, and resolved other putative fossil cyclostomes to the stem of either hagfish or lamprey crown groups. These results potentially resolve the morphological–molecular conflict at the base of the Vertebrata. Thus, assessment of character nonindependence may help reconcile morphological and molecular inferences for other major discords in animal phylogeny.

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