Growth in world population, increasing urbanization and changing consumption habits means demand for food production is predicted to increase dramatically over the coming decades. This increased demand in food production must be achieved despite challenges such as climate change, a limited supply of new arable land and difficulties in sourcing skilled farm labour. Robotics and automation are likely to play a key role in meeting these challenges over the coming decades by helping to improve farm productivity. A key component of these future autonomous agricultural systems is the development of robust and accurate perception systems for perceiving the agricultural environment. Recently, the development of these agricultural perception systems in both research and industry has been spurred on by the emergence of new and increasingly cost-effective sensing modalities such as multi- and hyperspectral imaging, high resolution cameras, LiDAR, radar and centimetre precision GPS. These sensing modalities have been complemented by advances in the size and affordability of computing power and increasingly capable algorithms. This special issue is supported by IEEE RAS Agricultural Robotics and Automation Technical Committee (TC-AgRa) and IEEE-RAS Technical Committee on Mobile Manipulation (TCMM)

Topical Area

This special issue on RA-L will focus on current advances in the area of autonomous farming. Papers are solicited on all areas directly related to these topics, including but not limited to:

  • Robots for pruning, thinning, harvesting, mowing, spraying, and weed removal
  • Aerial and ground robotic platforms for soil/crop monitoring, prediction, and decision making
  • Aerial Robotics for Environmental and Agricultural applications
  • Sensing and yield-estimation in precision agriculture
  • Fruit and flower detection and recognition
  • Approaches to cost-effective sensing for day/night continuous operation
  • Long-term autonomy and navigation in unstructured farming environments
  • Manipulators and platforms for soil preparation, seeding, crop protection, and harvesting
  • Adaptive sampling and informative data collection
  • Adaptive technologies that manage plants, soil or animals according to as-sensed status
  • Theoretical and empirical decision-oriented data-analysis techniques including machine learning


Special Issue Submission Opens: 17 February 2018
Special Issue Submission Deadline: 25 February 2018 (same as RAL/IROS)
First Decision Communicated to Authors: 21 May 2018
Final Decision Communicated to Authors: 25 July 2018
Accepted RAL Papers appear on IEEEXplore: 23 August 2018

Conference Option

This Special Issue will be associated with the 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 1-5 October 2018 in Madrid,Spain and accepted articles will be presented at the conference. Authors of submissions commit that, if accepted by the IROS Program Committee, they will present the work at IROS.

How to submit

Authors will be available to submit your papers to our special issue via RAS paperplaza (RA-L submission system). There will be a menu on the submission system for our SI, Precision Agricultural Robotics and Autonomous Farming Technologies. But the submission system will be opened on 17 February 2018, and will be closed on 24 February 2018. So please keep in mind the submission is only available from 17 February 2018 for one week.



Advisory Committee

Bruce MacDonald (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
Roland Siegwart (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
Peter Corke (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)


Ho Seok Ahn, corresponding organizer - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., University of Auckland, New Zealand
Inkyu Sa - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Feras DayoubThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Queensland University of Technology, Australia

The Basel Peace Forum 2018 inspires new and unconventional ideas for peacebuilding. To achieve this, carefully selected leading personalities and decision-makers from business, diplomacy, academia, and civil society are invited. The Basel Peace Forum will take place on 14 January 2018 at the Museum of Art (Kunstmuseum), and on 15 January 2018 at the Congress Center in Basel, Switzerland.

Raj Madhavan

Raj Madhavan will be a Guest Speaker for one of the Innovation Forums.

Raj is Founder & CEO, Humanitarian Robotics Technologies, LLC and works at the intersection of robotics & automation and technology-policy.





Humanity expects a lot from the development of full artificial intelligence: support for the ending of wars, for example. But at the same time, many fear a loss of control and unintended negative consequences. This forum gathers together experienced technologists and scientists to analyze the role of artificial intelligence in changing warfare and preventing violent conflicts. Furthermore, it explores the impact of virtual platforms on building trust through social and commercial interactions in countries emerging from conflicts.

For more information seehttp://basel-peace.org/about-the-forum/


Full-day Forum, International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 24 May 2018


Humanitarian robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence technologies will play an ever-increasing role in global development, particularly in developing economies, in the coming years sooner than one might think or be willing to admit. We are already witnessing several instantiations of such applications in established domains ranging from manufacturing and defense to emerging areas such as disaster response, firefighting, and education, to name a few (for instance, see http://www.ieee-ras.org/ras-sight/projects for a listing of the projects being carried out under the auspices of the IEEE RAS Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology). The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development consists of seventeen Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) that include building resilient infrastructures for sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation (Goal 9) to strengthening and revitalizing global partnerships for sustainable development (Goal 17) among others.

Adoption of emerging technologies tends to be slow in developing countries due to reasons that are usually beyond GDP rates and standard of living indices. Whilst the potential of these technologies is for the most part undeniable, the challenge lies in making them reliable, cost-effective and easily accessible for the masses by taking into account socioeconomic, cultural, environmental, and sustainability factors. Additionally, ethical, legal, and societal considerations of robotics, automation, and other emerging AI technologies are of paramount importance as the demarcation lines between individual privacy, safety, and security and those of the collective society get blurred without timely governance and regulation.

To address these concerns, the Sustainable Humanitarian Technologies Forum will take on the above issues centered on the following three themes:

  • Robotics, Automation, and AI Technologies for the benefit of humanity
  • Technology-Policy and Ethical, Legal and Societal (ELS) Aspects of Emerging Technologies
  • Global South Considerations (particularly those of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America)

The Forum will bring together experts and thinkers from both technology and public policy domains. The format will consist of keynote addresses and regular presentations with a mini panel discussion after each thematic session covering the gamut of issues stemming not only from research, development, and deployment standpoints but also those from public perception of robotics, automation, and AI. An hour-long panel discussion will conclude the Forum with audience participation both at the conference venue and elsewhere (via Twitter and Facebook). As a record of the Forum, we intend to capture key points from speakers, salient points from the discussions, identify missing gaps and future steps, and summarize them in a post-event White Paper to formulate action items.

If you are working in the above areas and if the goals and themes of the Forum are of interest to you, we would love to hear from you! We are soliciting presentations from researchers and practitioners from industry, academia, NGOs, NPOs, regulatory, and funding agencies. Please email us a 2-page (max.) write-up of your background, experience, and what you would like to present at the Forum to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In addition, include a separate section in your submission on how your  participation/presentation would benefit the Forum. Note that you are not required to write a paper but your presentation at the Forum will be archived post-event for the benefit of the community.

Depending on the level of interest, selected presenters will be invited to write an expanded article for a special issue journal. Along with your submission, let us know if you would be interested in submitting an article to such a special issue.


Deadline for Submission of 2-page write-up: 15 February 2018 (email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Notification of Acceptance: 25 February 2018
Forum: 24 May 2018 (confirmed)

The IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS2017) was held 24-28 September 2017, in Vancouver, Canada. Congratulations to the following Award Recipients - which were announced on 27 September during the Awards Luncheon. Photos of the event are available here. 

IROS Harashima Award for Innovative Technologies

This award is to honor Professor Fumio Harashima, the Founding Honorary Chair of the IROS conferences, by recognizing outstanding contributions of an individual of the IROS community who has pioneered activities in robotics and intelligent systems.

2017 HarashimaLynch

Kevin M. Lynch - Northwestern University, USA
"For his pioneering contributions to robotic manipulation"






IROS Distinguished Service Award 

This award recognizes an individual who has performed outstanding service and leadership for the benefit and advancement of the IROS Conference. Up to two awards will be given annually at the IROS Conference.


Nancy M. Amato - Texas A&M University, USA
“For Outstanding Contributions to IROS Editorial Methods and Processes”







Wolfram Burgard - University of Freiburg, Germany
“For Outstanding Contributions to the Organization and Quality of IROS Technical Programs”







IROS Toshio Fukuda Young Professional Award

This award recognizes individuals (from academic institutions, government, industry, or research labs) who, in their early career, have made identifiable contributions that have had a major impact on intelligent robots and systems. Up to two awards will be given annually at the IROS Conference.
Andrea L. Thomaz - University of Texas, Austin, USA
“For Outstanding Contributions to Human-Robot Interaction”

IROS JTCF Novel Technology Paper Award for Amusement Culture

This award recognizes technical papers which have made practical technology contributions to Toys, Toy Models and Amusement Culture.
James M. Bern, Grace Kumagai, and Stelian Coros
"Fabrication, Modeling, and Control of Plush Robots”

IROS RoboCup Best Paper Award

This award recognizes technical papers which have made identifiable contributions to RoboCup.
Hafez Farazi and Sven Behnke
"Online Visual Robot Tracking and Identification using Deep LSTM Networks”

IROS KROS Best Paper Award on Cognitive Robotics

This award is to promote interdisciplinary researches on cognition for technical systems and advancements of cognitive robotics in industry, home applications, and daily life.
Renaud Detry, Jeremie Papon Larry Matthies
"Task-oriented Grasping with Semantic and Geometric Scene Understanding”

IROS Best Paper Award on Safety, Security, and Rescue Robotics

This award is to promote advanced research on safety, security and rescue robotics. The name of the award is connected with Mr. Motohiro Kisoi who was killed in Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake on 17 January 1995. He was a master student of Kobe University, Japan at that time. He had a dream to create a robot that can help people. To memorialize him and Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the award has established.
Masashi Takeichi, Koichi Suzumori, Gen Endo, Hiroyuki Nabae
"Development of a 20-m-long Giacometti Arm with Balloon Body Based on Kinematic Model with Air Resistance”

IROS ICROS Best Application Paper Award

This award is to promote researches on excellent robot application.
Rachel M. Hoffman and H. Harry Asada
"A Multi-Track Elevator System for E-Commerce Fulfillment Centers"

IROS ABB Best Student Paper Award

This award recognizes the most outstanding paper authored primarily by a student at the annual IROS Conference.
Yu Fan Chen, Michael Everett, Miao Liu, and Jonathan P. How
"Socially Aware Motion Planning with Deep Reinforcement Learning"

IROS Best Paper Award

This award recognizes the most outstanding paper at the annual IROS Conference.
Duncan W. Haldane, Justin K. Yim, and Ronald S. Fearing
"Repetitive extreme-acceleration (14-g) spatial jumping with Salto-1P"

Today, we are at a crossroads, whereby continued advances in computerization and digitalization are bringing significant transformative changes that will impact society worldwide, revolutionizing global business operations and fundamentally altering how inanimate objects are perceived in a world increasingly reliant on autonomous systems. A key outcome of this transformation will be a notable shift in the interaction of previously independent systems, including humans, and an increased awareness and responsiveness to autonomous systems that will lead to the development of symbiotic relationships that have significant implications for human society as a whole. The IEEE Symbiotic Autonomous Systems (SAS) Initiative aims to take a leadership role in fostering consensus on how best to bring about symbiotic relationships between autonomous systems, and capitalize on the recognition that Symbiotic Autonomous Systems are poised to have a revolutionary impact on society over the coming years. Collaborating with IEEE communities and global organizations conducting ongoing efforts in the area of autonomous and intelligent systems, the Initiative will pave the way for the development of a new field of symbiotic systems science to consolidate and advance technological expertise with emphasis on ethical, societal, legal implications, and with the objective to promote human-centric economic growth.

We have recently released a comprehensive White Paper outlining our thoughts and direction. The White Paper provides an overview of the enabling technologies and their evolution, provides examples of impact in a number of verticals, and highlights ethical, legal, and societal implications.
The White Paper is available here: 

The SAS Initiative is looking for interested RAS folks to join the effort.
Please send an email to <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>.

More information on this initiative can be found here: https://symbiotic-autonomous-systems.ieee.org


Congratulations to the following RAS Members - elevated to IEEE Fellow grade, effective 1 January 2018!


2018 RAS Fellows evaluated by the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society

Pieter Abbeel - University of California, Berkeley, USA
"For contributions to apprenticeship and reinforcement learning for robotics and autonomous systems"
Hajime Asama - University of Tokyo, Japan
"For contributions to distributed autonomous robotic systems"
Oliver Brock - Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
"For contributions to mobile manipulation and grasping"
Jian Dai - King's College London, United Kingdom
"For contributions to reconfigurable and metamorphic mechanisms"
Jaydev Desai - Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
"For contributions to medical and swarm robotics"
Maria Gini - University of Minnesota, USA
"For contributions to multi-agent programming in robotics"
David Hsu - National University of Singapore, Singapore
"For contributions to robot motion planning"
Lynette Jones - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
"For contributions to tactile and thermal displays"
Shugen Ma - Ritsumeikan University, Japan
"For contributions to the design and control of environment-adaptive robots"
Kazuhiro Saitou - University of Michigan, USA
"For contributions in computational assembly and disassembly design of mechanical products"
Siddhartha Srinivasa - University of Washington, USA
"For contributions to robotic manipulation and human-robot interaction"
Jocelyne Troccaz - Université Grenoble Alpes, France
"For contributions to robotics and imaging for medical applications"


2018 RAS Fellows evaluated by other IEEE Societies

Evaluated by the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society:
Erik Blasch - US Air Force Research Lab, USA
"For leadership in aerospace information fusion systems"
Evaluated by the IEEE Computer Society:
Peter Stone - University of Texas at Austin, USA
"For contributions to reinforcement learning, multiagent systems, and robotics"
Evaluated by the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society:
Haibo He - University of Rhode Island, USA
"For contributions to adaptive learning"
Evaluated by the IEEE Control Systems Society:
Mark Campbell - Cornell University, USA 
"For contributions to control and estimation theory for autonomous systems"
Evaluated by the IEEE Control Systems Society:
Jonathan How - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA 
"For contributions to guidance and control of air and space vehicles"
Evaluated by the IEEE Control Systems Society:
Sonia Martinez - University of California, San Diego, USA 
"For contributions to the geometric mechanics and control"
Evaluated by the IEEE Control Systems Society:
Silviu-Iulian Niculescu - The Laboratoire des Signaux et Systèmes, France
"For research on the effects of delays in system dynamics"
Evaluated by the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society:
Wen-Hua Chen - Loughborough University, United Kingdom
"For contributions to the applications of nonlinear disturbance observer based control"
Evaluated by the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control Society:
Shuji Tanaka - Tohoku University, Japan
"For contributions to micro-electromechanical systems for acoustic wave devices, physical sensors, and power generation"

Congratulations to the six RAS members elected by the membership to serve a three-year term beginning 1 January 2018. We wish the newly elected members of the Administrative Committee success and thank all candidates for their willingness to serve and for permitting their names to be included on the ballot. 

AdCom Members Elected at Large

Minoru Asada portrait
Minoru Asada
AdCom Member Elected at Large
Osaka University
Osaka, Japan
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Maria Pia Fanti portrait
Maria Pia Fanti
AdCom Member Elected at Large
Polytechnic of Bari
Bari, Italy
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

AdCom Members from RAS Geographic Area 1 (the Americas):

Richard Vaughan portrait
Richard Vaughan
RAS Geographic Area 1
Simon Fraser University
British Columbia, Canada
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Jing Xiao portrait
Jing Xiao
RAS Geographic Area 1
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester (MA), USA
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RAS Geographical Area 2 (Europe, Africa, Middle East--IEEE Region 8):

Tamim Asfour portrait
Tamim Asfour
RAS Geographic Area 2
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Karlsruhe, Germany
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

AdCom Member from RAS Geographical Area 3 (Asia, Australia, Pacific Rim):

Zhidong Wang portrait
Zhidong Wang
RAS Geographic Area 3
Chiba Institute of Technology
Chiba, Japan
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Deadline to vote is 25 October 2017!

RAS members are voting to elect six new members of the RAS Administrative Committee to serve 3-year terms beginning 1 January 2018. All RAS members (Graduate Student Members and above) have received voting instructions, the biographies, and statements of the candidates by email. RAS membership must be active as of 15 August 2017 to be eligible to vote. Members who do not have valid emails registered with the IEEE or have opted not to receive e-mail from IEEE, have received their election materials by post.

election vote button

Click here to review the candidates' bios and position statements.


IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems
Special issue on: "Introspective Methods for Reliable Autonomy"
Submission deadline: 31 January 2018


As humans, understanding our own limitations, failures and shortcomings is a key for improvement and development. This knowledge is crucial for altering our behaviors, e.g. to execute tasks in a more cautious way. Correspondingly, equipping robots with a set of skills that allows them to assess the quality of their sensory data, internal models, used methods etc. will greatly improve their overall performance. The problem of introspection, directly or indirectly, relates to other research topics: planning, execution monitoring, active perception and mapping. Accordingly, an improved understanding of introspection in robotics has a direct impact on a large variety of application areas (e.g. search and rescue, intralogistic, assistive robotics. The introspection impacts the most the following aspects of robotics system: safety, reliability and the maintenance costs. Information on the internal state of the robot is crucial to make decisions if it is safe to execute the assigned mission considering not only the current state of the perceived
environment, but also the internal state of the robot. Continuous monitoring of the internal state of the robot and automatic assessment can be also used to enhance the maintenance process. Information about the internal state of the robot can be used to estimate the likelihood of potential failure and tailor the efforts to prevent it or to speed up the recovery or repair process by providing detailed information to a human operator or even enable self-repair.
Introspection takes active role in the process of preventing of malfunctions of the robotic system and help to speed the repair process up. These two features have direct impact on the running cost of a robotic system. Preventing unplanned interruptions in the robot operation and shortening the time of the planned interruptions has a direct impact on the cost of robot exploitation.
It is also important to remember that introspective information is a cornerstone of all methods aiming to robotics self-improvement. It provides information crucial in the learning and development process. In this context, it is possible to draw a parallel between human and robotic system. Assessment of the internal state is important input helping to anticipate if the planned action is feasible for the agent (either human or robot). For a complex system, it is difficult to perform such assessment relying only on predefined set of rules and conditions. Therefore, it is necessary to use learning algorithms which will be able to connect the preexisting internal and external conditions with the outcome of a planned action. In such a configuration, a failure became a crucial element of a learning process of an autonomous system.
Finally, it is important to emphasis that introspection is a topic which spans across multiple fields. The introspection is originally a human ability. It is recent years when the idea of
introspection is also becoming present in the field of robotics. Therefore, to obtain a complete picture of the problem of introspection in autonomous systems it is important to have a closer look also at psychological aspect of introspection. Moreover, the impact of introspection in the context of the cognitive science cannot be overlooked.

The primary topic of this issue

How to assess the quality of internal models, methods, sensory data and the hardware used by robots and how to alter their behavior using this information?

The aim of this special issue is fourfold:

* Survey the state of the art in the field.
* Define open research questions in the field.
* Provide a venue to present the recent developments in the field of
* Present system papers showing how introspection is integrated and
affects performance of a system.


This special issue is addressed to researchers interested in the development of introspective methods for robust autonomy across different research areas. We expect to receive
submissions relevant for following research fields, but to name a few: Long term autonomy, safe operation of robots under uncertanity, performance awareness, reliable-aware operation, cooperative robotics, cognitive and learning robots, developmental robotics, Human-Robot Interaction. Introspection is broad term covering a set of topics.
Topics relevant to this special issue include, but are not limited to:
* Internal assessment (Map quality assessment, Perception quality
assessment, Classification quality assessment)
* Analysis (Failure analysis, Execution monitoring, Meta-reasoning)
* Introspection-related actions (Failure recovery, Reconfigurable
robots, Planning with uncertainty)


31 January 2018 - Deadline for manuscript submissions.
15 May 2018 - Notification of authors
15 June 2018 - Deadline for submission of revised manuscripts
31 July 2018 - Final decisions


Manuscripts should be prepared according to the Information for Authors of the journal found at http://cis.ieee.org/ieee-transactions-on-cognitive-and-developmental-systems/131-ieee-transactions-on-autonomous-mental-development-information-for-authors.html
and submissions should be made through the IEEE TCDS Manuscript Center at https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/tcds-ieee selecting the category SI: Introspective Methods for Reliable Autonomy.


The IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems (TCDS) focuses on advances in the study of development and cognition in natural (humans, animals) and artificial (robots, agents) systems. It welcomes contributions from multiple related disciplines including cognitive systems, cognitive robotics, developmental and epigenetic robotics, autonomous and evolutionary robotics, social structures, multi-agent and artificial life systems, computational neuroscience, and developmental psychology. Articles on theoretical, computational, application-oriented, and experimental studies as well as reviews in these areas are considered.


Yaochu Jin
University of Surrey, Surrey, United Kingdom


Tomasz Piotr Kucner, Örebro University, Sweden
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Soren Schwertfeger, ShanghaiTech University, China
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Martin Magnusson, Örebro University, Sweden
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Achim J. Lilienthal, Örebro University, Sweden
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Rudolph Triebel, Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, Germany
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IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine seeks articles for a Special Issue on Floating-base (Aerial and Underwater) Manipulation

During the last 20 years, underwater robots have been widely used as a tool for mapping the seafloor using optical and acoustic sensors, with applications to offshore sites inspection, marine geology, underwater archaeology to mention but a few. At the same time, aerial robots are also limited to monitoring and surveillance applications, and research has mainly focused on topics such as perception and navigation. However, a large number of applications exist that go beyond the survey capabilities, and the possibility of manipulating objects with these two challenging technologies could open up an entire set of new applications.

Both underwater and aerial robots are floating-base robotic systems, and this fact makes their control different from classic ground mobile manipulators. From a research perspective, topics and issues such as coordinated control of the whole floating manipulator system, safe interaction with the environment, disturbance rejection, object perception from a floating base, are still important challenges to be solved.

This special issue will provide up-to-date results and novel advanced solutions for floating manipulation, both from the point of view of aerial and underwater fields. In particular, this issue aims to bring together two communities that have so far operated in parallel but without too much interaction, despite the similarities between the two fields.

The topics of interest for paper submissions include, but are not limited to:

  • Design of aerial or underwater manipulation systems
  • Underwater/aerial hands and grippers
  • Mechatronics of manipulators optimized for floating operation
  • Coordinated control of floating base and manipulator
  • Cooperative control of multiple floating manipulators
  • Perception and precise localization for floating manipulation
  • Physical interaction of floating base manipulators
  • Techniques for assisted remote manipulation
  • Learning techniques for floating manipulation
  • Motion planning of floating manipulators
  • Fault tolerant approaches for floating manipulators
  • Any other key enabling technology for floating manipulation


15 December 2017 - Deadline for paper submission (Extended: 1 February 2018)
August 2018 - Final notification:
December 2018 - Expected publication: 

Submission guidelines


Guest Editors

Matteo Fumagalli, Aalborg University, Denmark
Enrico Simetti, University of Genova, Italy

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