Mini biography

I was born in Prague, Czech Republic. I received my MSc degree in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence from Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2006. Between 2006 and 2013 I completed my PhD degree and then served as Senior Research Associate at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, University of Zurich, Switzerland (Prof. Rolf Pfeifer). In 2013 I joined the iCub Facility of the Italian Institute of Technology (Prof. Giorgio Metta), supported by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (iCub Body Schema, 2014-2016). In 2017, I joined the Department of Cybernetics, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague where I'm currently serving as an Assistant Professor and leading a group focused on cognitive, neuro-, collaborative, and humanoid robotics.

Research interests

In my research, I employ the so-called synthetic methodology, or "understanding by building", with two main goals:

  1. Understanding cognition and its development. In particular, I'm interested in the "body in the brain": how do babies learn to represent their bodies and the space around it (peripersonal space) and what are the mechanisms in the brain. We build embodied computational models on humanoid robots to uncover how these representations operate.

  2. Robots safe and natural around humans. Taking inspiration from humans, we make robots exploit multimodal information (mostly vision and touch) to share space with humans. We're interested both in physical and social human-robot interaction.

Please see the Research tabs for more information.

News

26.4.2022 Talk at AI Czechia. Youtube recording.

14.1.2022 Interview with Matej Hoffmann and Karel Zimmermann about the future of robotics in the 100+1 magazine (02/2022) (in Czech). [pdf]

14.11.2021 Interview with Matej Hoffmann and our iCub robot featured in Fokus Václava Moravce on the human brain (our part starting at 1:06:23).

30.11.2021 CTU Prague Xmas Robot video: https://youtu.be/wiE7GfN358s. Featuring our Pepper and iCub (robots) and Petr and Lukáš (lab members).

12.11.2021 iCub and other robots from the Dept. featured in "Proč ne" magazine of Hospodářské noviny (in Czech). [pdf]

10.11.2021 Summary of recent media presence in the Department news.

10.11.2021 Interview with Matej Hoffmann about the iCub robot in Cool People (in Czech).

9.11.2021 Our iCub featured in the magazine ABC (issue 23, 2021) [pdf].

28.10.2021 Our robots with artificial skin on Czech TV Planeta YÓ.

18.10.2021 Our iCub humanoid has been presented in several media, including "Zprávičky" on the Czech TV, Czech Radio (Český Rozhlas - Radiožurnál), Novinky.cz, and more than 20 other media - see here for an overview.

27.8.2021 Our work on tactile exploration for body model learning through self-touch published in IEEE TCDS. The video was featured in the IEEE Spectrum Robotics Video Friday.

19.7.2021 Talk at Towards physical-social human-robot interaction workshop @ Humanoids 2020/2021.

1.7.2021 Two new postdocs joined our group: Sergiu Tcaci Popescu and Valentin Marcel.

15.6. We received the iCub humanoid robot!!! (video)

4.6.2021 Talk at Learning to learn for robotics workshop at ICRA 2021.

21.5.2021 Presenting the IPALM project at the Sino-EU Conference on Intelligent Robots and Automation.

19.4.2021 Talk at Bielefeld University, Germany (host: Prof. Tobias Heed).

16.4.2021 Talk at Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey (host: Prof. Emre Ugur, COLORS lab).

18.3.2021 Brain Awareness Week: Talk "Humanoids with artificial skin: embodied modeling of body representations". (in Czech, recording)

2.3.2021 Talk at AI & CogSci seminar, Bratislava, Slovakia. Youtube link.

19.2.2021 Talk at Queen Mary University of London. Youtube link.

27.11.2020 Researchers' night - Even robots can have skin! Interactive demo and interview, available on this youtube link (in Czech).

22.7.2020 The Frontiers Research Topic Body Representations, Peripersonal Space, and the Self: Humans, Animals, Robots which I guest-edited is closed with 19 articles; the Editorial and e-book (download from RT page) are published.

3.5.2020 Matej Hoffmann and Petr Svarny in a Podcast on collaborative and humanoid robots [in Czech].

5.2.2020 Matej Hoffmann and Zdenek Straka presented our work at the Human Brain Project summit.

29.1.2020 Interview with Matej Hoffmann in "Control Engineering Czech Republic" [in Czech].

28.1.2020 Matej Hoffmann and Petr Svarny invited speakers at "Robots 2020" - Trends in Automation...

12.11.2019 I was awarded the “GAČR EXPRO” project for excellence in fundamental research from the Czech Science Foundation: more information here.

10.7.2019 Invited speaker and panelist at a symposium in Cambridge, UK.

3.7.2019 Invited speaker at 4th International Workshop on Intrinsically Motivated Open-ended Learning, Frankfurt.

12.3.2019 International Brain Week in Prague: I was part of the panel "Informatics, Robotics, and the Brain" and gave a talk "Humanoids with artificial skin: embodied modeling of body representations". (in Czech, recording of the talk)

29.10.2018: We are partners in a new European research project (CHIST-ERA call) IPALM – Interactive Perception-Action-Learning for Modelling Objects, coordinated by Imperial College London.

17.10.2018: The Learning Body Models: Humans, Brains, and Robots seminar at Lorentz center is starting next week!

19.10.2018: Our new Nao robot with artificial skin is up and running! See the video and "autonomous touch video".

6.6.2018: Article about our research and its participation as HBP Partnering project for the public @ agenciasinc.es.

17.5. I'm co-organizing a workshop @ IROS 2018: "The utility of body, interaction and self learning in robotics" (website)

8.5.2018 Invited speaker at Morphological and Embodied Computing, Gothenburg, Sweden.

26.4.2018: I was a member of the IIT Co-Aware team winning the KUKA Innovation Award 2018: Real-World Interaction Challenge. See the video.

25.1.2018: Our project has become a Partnering Project of the Human Brain Project.

5.1.2018: I'm the lead Topic Editor for this Frontiers Research Topic: Open for submissions!

3.1.2018: Work with IIT Genoa and Yale University on “Compact real-time avoidance on a humanoid robot for human-robot interaction” has been accepted to the HRI ’18 Conference held in Chicago. [pdf @ arxiv] [youtube video]

9.11.2017: I give a talk to the public at the Science and Technology week on 10.11.2017. (talk online - in Cz)

14.9.2017: Zdenek Straka and Matej Hoffmann awarded ENNS Best Paper Award at 26th Int. Conf. on Artificial Neural Networks (ICANN17) for their paper Learning a Peripersonal Space Representation as a Visual-Tactile Prediction Task.

20.7.2017: Our robot homunculus featured in the Italian magazine Focus and iCub YouTube channel (extended version in our channel). The article is available here: [early access - IEEE Xplore][postprint-pdf].

18.4.2017: A 4-page cover story about humanoid robotics in Respekt 16/2017 (a major Czech weekly journal; larger section available for free at ihned.cz.). Matej Hoffmann and Zdenek Straka interviewed and photographed with robots. A video, plus coverage of the rescue robots in the online addition to the story.

24.1.2017: Talk at Society for Cognitive Science and Philosophy at Philosophical Faculty (seminar page).

2.1.2017: I'm starting my new appointment at Dept. Cybernetics, CTU Prague!

28.6.2016: I'm co-organizing a Workshop on development of body representations at ICDL-Epirob 2016.

5.6.2016: Interviews about my research in Pravda newspaper and Dennik N (both in Slovak).

4.5.2016: Tomorrow, Scientific Cafe with two other Marie Curie fellows: Humans & machines in equilibrium.

10.4.2016: Slides (English) and video (Czech/Slovak) from talk at Bratislava robotics seminar available.

1.1.2016: Talk from BICA 2015, Lyon, is online: link.

23.10.2015: The iCub and the iCub Body Schema project live at Festival della Scienza, Genova.

24.10.2014: Our work on iCub kinematic calibration through self-touch was featured in IEEE spectrum: link.