IEEE Robotics and Automation Society IEEE

Shigeo Hirose Named Recipient 2014 IEEE ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION AWARD

Shigeo Hirose, IEEE Fellow, has been named the recipient of the 2014 IEEE ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION AWARD for "contributions to the design and construction of multiple nonconventional robotic systems such as snakelike, quadruped walking, wall climbing, and swarm robots."

Robotics Hirose Photo sml

Dr. Shigeo Hirose succeeded in demonstrating a smooth undulating motion of a 2m long snake-like robot ACM-III in 1972 for the first time in the world. He received the Ph.D. degree with the biomechanical study of real snake and snake-like robots in 1976. At the Tokyo Institute of Technology he had the following academic positions: assistant professor from 1976 to 1979, associate professor from 1979 to 1992, professor from 1992 to 2011, and distinguished professor from 2011 to 2013.

Dr. Hirose published a book with the title "Biologically Inspired Robots" (Oxford University Press) in 1993. In that publication he coined the unique research field of biologically inspired robotics.

Dr. Hirose has always been interested in creative design of robotic mechanisms and in their control system. He developed more than 150 robots including snake-like mobile robots, articulated robot-arms, quadruped walking robots, and wheeled & crawler mobile robots. Main objectives in his works were to realize robots for search and rescue operation, humanitarian demining, medical & welfare and rovers for planetary exploration.

Dr. Hirose was awarded with more than 50 academic awards, including the Joseph Engelberger Robotics Award from Robotic Industries Association (2009), Medal with Purple Ribbon from Japanese government (2006), Award of Merits from IFToMM (2004), the first Pioneer in Robotics & Automation Award (1999) from IEEE Robotics & Automation Society.

Dr. Hirose is an IEEE Fellow and he is currently holding the CTO position at HiBot Corporation (founded by his former students at the Hirose Robotic Laboratory) a position as Professor Emeritus of Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Visiting Professor at Ritsumeikan University.

Dr. Hirose will receive this most prestigious IEEE-level award in a formal presentation at a 2014 IEEE venue to be determined. If you think you know someone in the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society who may be eligible for an IEEE Technical Field Award, please visit for more information on eligibility and general award criteria.

The nomination deadline for the 2015 IEEE Technical Field Awards is 31 January 2014.



Call for Proposals - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2018 Location

RAS Vice President of Conference Activities, Nikos Papanikolopoulos and the RAS Conference Activities Board are seeking proposals to host ICRA 2018 to be held in Oceania (IEEE Region 10).

RegistrationMinimum proposal information required includes the following: Location and plan, venue description, accessibility; Proposed organizers provide information about their backgrounds and interactions with the RAS; Technical program discussion, in particular new events or changes in organization of technical program; Budget plan; Milestones to be met; Statement of willingness to sign a contract with responsibilities of organizers.

The IEEE provides many resources for conference organizers. Before submitting their proposals, candidates are encouraged to visit the following site and review the information:

Proposals must be submitted by 15 October to Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Proposals will be reviewed by the RAS Conference Board at their November meeting and two finalists will be submitted to the AdCom in June 2014.



King-Sun Fu Memorial: Best Paper in the IEEE Transactions on Robotics – winner announced

Congratulations to the following winner of the 2013 King-Sun Fu Memorial Award. This award honors the best paper printed in the IEEE Transactions on Robotics in the previous year. The authors were presented their award during the Awards Luncheon on 9 May 2013 in Karlsruhe, Germany.

"Reinforcement Learning With Sequences of Motion Primitives for Robust Manipulation"
Freek Stulp, Evangelos A. Theodorou, Stefan Schaal
IEEE Transactions on Robotics; vol. 28, no. 6, December 2012, pp. 1360-1370

The Ultra Affordable Educational Robot Project

2013 Design Challenge: Robot Enhancements, Software, and Teaching Plans

Sponsored by: The African Robotics Network (AFRON) and IEEE Robotics and Automation Society


Robots excite people of all ages. Their physical behavior often inspires primary and secondary student interest in computers, science, math, and engineering more broadly. However, existing platforms are often too expensive for students. This project aims to collaboratively create an Ultra-Affordable Robot (an order of magnitude less expensive than existing products) to inspire young people around the world.

The 2012 Design Challenge emphasized an ultra-low-cost robot hardware platform in three categories:
tethered, roaming, and all-in-one. The winning designs were all highly creative, and the Grand Prize in the tethered category went to Lollybot, a brilliant design by Tom Tilley of Thailand, costing just under 10 USD and incorporating two functional Lollipops. Starting with a generic dual-shock game controller, Lollybot can be built using commonly available tools anywhere in the world.

In the 2013 Design Challenge, our goal is to create incentives for designers to select any of the winning designs from 2012 and work on enhancements in one or more of 3 categories:
1) hardware 2) software, or 3)curriculum.
This year, we are placing a special emphasis on Lollybot, encouraging next steps in the 3 categories:
1) enhance the Lollybot hardware design, simplifying assembly, increasing robustness, adding useful features, 2) extend and improve the open-source software for Lollybot, and 3) create exciting
lesson plans using the Lollybot.
In addition, there is a special "community challenge" for participants who organize a robotics workshop for students using
one of the winning designs, with or without enhancements.

Competition Categories

1) Hardware enhancements
Propose design enhancements to make the chosen robot more effective, robust, re-usable, and even easier to assemble or manufacture. For example, possible design enhancements for the Lollybot include:
· Improved robustness (particularly of wheels and bumpers) to allow for more reliable behavior
· Ability to design and switch in and out different sensor circuits, such as the current line sensor circuit.
· Ability to control the robot with an old feature phone, a Raspberry Pi, or other low-cost computing platform

2) Software enhancements
Further open-source software development to add functionality to the chosen robot, and more importantly, make it easy for high school students with no prior programming experience to learn how to program new behaviors for the robot. For Lollybot, this could include, for example, a drag-and-drop programming interface, or a software interface to introduce basic features of JavaScript for programming the robot.

3) Curriculum
Outline 20+ hours of educational activity using the chosen robot. The educational value could come from the process of assembling the robot and from programming it. However, at least 15 hours of the curriculum should be re-usable, meaning that it can be used with an already-assembled robot. This ensures that learning continues after the robot is assembled for the first time. The lesson plans can assume a basic age-appropriate science and math background, but should not assume any background in robotics or prior experience programming or using tools such as a soldering iron -- it should help students learn what they need to know.

4) Community challenge
Build one of the winning designs in collaboration with students (primary, secondary or early college), documenting the process and the learning experience for the students.


Each category attracts a grand prize of $500, and a runner-up prize of $250. A single entry can win in more than one category. Additionally, there will be "honorable mentions" for other creative submissions.


The competition is open to individuals, teams of individuals, or institutions from anywhere in the world. We welcome submissions from hobbyists and students, in addition to professionals. For the community challenge, entries are particularly encouraged from participants working with students in Africa.

Submission Deadline

15 January 2014. Winners will be announced in February 2014

What to submit, and how

Create one HTML webpage with the following information:

1. A high-level description of your hardware enhancements, software enhancements, curriculum and/or student workshop.

2. For hardware enhancements, include:
a. A list of parts, their sources (include URLs if applicable), availability, and prices.

  • Note that your parts list should be complete, including things like required adhesive, screws etc.
  • Note that salvaged parts are allowed, if these salvaged parts are commonly available in your particular context. Think of this list of parts as the starting point if someone in a similar context to you wanted to reproduce your robot.
  • Your parts list should include any consumables (e.g. batteries) and their associated cost and replacement frequency. This is a caution to think of sustainability.

b. A list of tools/equipment needed to create the robot, and estimated prices
c. Relevant drawings with dimensions
d. Step-by-step instructions for creating your robot
e. A description of any experiments conducted
f. Pictures and videos of your robot in action

3. For software, include:
a. A link to documentation (a "user guide") for your software
b. If relevant, screenshots of your software
c. A link to the open-source software.

4. For curriculum, include:
a. The target age range / level (e.g. primary school – approximately below age 12, junior high or middle school – approximately between ages 12 and 14, and senior high school – approximately between ages 14 and 18)
b. The learning goals
c. Materials needed
d. Activities

5. For the community challenge (student workshops), include:
a. The robot that was used
b. Information about participants (number, age range, location)
c. Sources of parts for robot-building
d. Description of activities
e. Description of outcomes
f. Pictures and/or video

Please share with us your intent to participate via this form
When you are done, you can then make your final submission via the submission form , which asks for your name, contact information, and the URL of your webpage. Note that by participating in this competition, you agree to have your designs or curriculum published on the Internet (and attributed to you, of course).


Hardware enhancements will be assessed using the following criteria:
· Robustness & effectiveness
· Cost (try to stay below 20 USD, excluding computing)
· Versatility
· Ease of assembly

Software will be assessed using the following criteria:
· Effectiveness
· Ease of use
· Quality of documentation

Curricula will be assessed using the following criteria:
· Clarity
· Potential to help students learn
· Potential to engage students' interest

The community challenge will be assessed using the following criteria:
· Completeness of documentation of the experience
· Creativity
· Student impact


The African Robotics Network (AFRON) is a community of institutions, organizations and individuals engaged in robotics in Africa. AFRON seeks to promote communication and collaborations that will enhance robotics-related education, research, and industry on the continent. Since it launched May 2012, AFRON has 380 regular and affiliated members from 51 countries around the world.



Webinar Slides and Recording Available Now

Did you get a chance to join the RAS Webinar - Improving Workplace Email Using the STOP Method

Don't worry if you did not, the slides and a recording of the webinar are now posted here on the RAS website, under the Education tab.

Email: it’s the first thing we check in the morning, probably before we even get to the office, and it rules our actions throughout the day. But despite the importance of email, we don’t spend much time considering how to make it more effective at accomplishing our goals. In fact, some of the email we receive is so confusing and poorly written, we may have a difficult time understanding exactly what the message is and what the writer wants. The STOP Method is designed to help you improve your email through four concrete strategies. This webinar will introduce you to the STOP method and give you opportunities to improve your email every day. Dr. Julia Williams will offer examples of poor email and identify the elements that contribute to its ineffectiveness.

The goal of this webinar is to provide you with easy-to-use tools that will make a difference in your email right away!


RAS Sponsors US Congressional Robotics Caucus

Robots & Job Creation

From manufacturing to self-driving cars, robotics has made a huge impact as a transformative technology fostering innovation and competitiveness of the United States in the global marketplace. Unfortunately, there have been misconceptions that robotics, and automation in general, would eliminate jobs instead of create them. Through this briefing, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society is pleased to present a first-hand account of views, opinions, and real-world experiences of experts and practitioners from the industry and academia, to demonstrate how robots are contributing to job growth and sustainability of US industries.

WHEN: 25 July 2013, 2:00-3:30 P.M.

WHERE: Congressional Meeting Room North, Capitol Visitor Center, Washington, DC USA

For additional information see:


ICRA 2013 Award Recipients Announced

Congratulations to the following ICRA 2013 Best Paper Award recipients! Winners were announced and honored during the Awards Luncheon which took place on 9 May 2013 in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Best Automation Paper Award
A Novel Virtual Metrology Scheme for Predicting Machining Precision of Machine Tools:
Hao Tieng, Haw-Ching Yang, Min-Hsiung Hung, Fan-Tien Cheng

Best Medical Robotics Paper Award
A Continuum Manipulator Made of Interlocking Fibers:
Matthew S. Moses, Michael D. M. Kutzer, Hans Ma, Mehran Armand

Best Cognitive Robotics Paper Award
Using Robotic Exploratory Procedures to Learn the Meaning of Haptic Adjectives:
Vivian Chu, Ian McMahon, Lorenzo Riano, Craig G. McDonald, Qin He, Jorge Martinez Perez-Tejada, Michael Arrigo, Naomi Fitter, John C. Nappo, Trevor Darrell, Katherine J. Kuchenbecker

KUKA Best Service Robotics Paper Award
Towards Real-World Gas Distribution Mapping and Leak Localization Using a Mobile Robot with 3D and Remote Gas Sensing Capabilities:
Victor Manuel Hernandez Bennetts, Achim J. Lilienthal, Ali Abdul Khaliq, V?ctor Pomareda Sesé, Marco Trincavelli

Best Manipulation Paper Award
A Probabilistic Framework for Task-Oriented Grasp Stability Assessment:
Yasemin Bekiroglu, Dan Song, Lu Wang, Danica Kragic

Best Vision Paper Award
Tracking Deformable Objects with Point Clouds:
John Schulmann, Alex Lee, Jonathan Ho, and Pieter Abbeel

Best Student Paper Award
Effector Form Design for 1DOF Planar Actuation:
Alberto Rodriguez (Student Author), Matthew T. Mason

Best Conference Paper Award
Control Design along Trajectories with Sums of Squares Programming:
Anirudha Majumdar, Amir Ali Ahmadi, Russ Tedrake

RAS Congratulates Newly Elevated Senior Members

The following IEEE Robotics & Automation Society members have recently been elevated to Senior Members, which is the highest grade which IEEE offers and requires individuals be engineers, scientists, educators, technical executives, or originators in IEEE-designated fields; have experience reflecting professional maturity; have been in professional practice for at least ten years; and show significant performance over a period of at least five of their years in professional practice.

AdelAli Al-Jumaily Alberto Jardon Huete Yuichi Ohta
Haider M Al-Saidi Chandimal S Jayawardena Lee M Oien
Nancy Arana Daniel Bayu Jayawardhana Arpan Pal
Andrew A Bennett Yan-Bin Jia Paolo Remagnino
Raja Sarath Kumar Boddu Hrishikesh Kulkarni Khairul Salleh
Gang Chen Michael Liu Gildardo Sanchez-Ante
Steven P Daniel Yunjiang Lou Peter J Silbermann
Christos Emmanouilidis Rajesh Kannan Megalingam Nabil Simaan
Francisco Florez-Revuelta Jean-Pierre Merlet Marjorie A Skubic
Roger Gassert Sepehr Mehrabanzad Timothy D Stanley
Benoit Goas Nikhil Y Mehta Olivier Stasse
Virgilio E Gonzalez Prabhakar Mishra Lung-Jieh Yang
Clyde Hancock Mark Moll Fumin Zhang
Uwe D Hanebeck Jeffery V Mosley Hai-Tao Zhang
Ulf Rainer Hanebutte Yasamin C Mostofi Suzhen Zhang
Shyamanta M. Hazarika    

RAS Society Award recipients honored during ICRA 2013

The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society recognized the following individuals for their outstanding accomplishments and service to RAS and the Robotics and Automation community, on 9 May at ICRA in Karlsruhe, Germany:

RAS Pioneer Award
Raja Chatila - ISIR - Institut des Systèmes Intelligents et de Robotique, France
"For fundamental pioneering contributions to robotics research in the areas of navigation and control, for visionary leadership, and for life-long commitment to the field"

Peter B. Luh - University of Connecticut, USA
"For pioneering contributions to the development of near-optimal and efficient planning, scheduling, and coordination methodologies for manufacturing and power systems"

IEEE RAS Distinguished Service Award
Oussama Khatib - Stanford University, USA
"In recognition of his vision and leadership for the Robotics and Automation Society, in establishing and sustaining conferences in robotics and related areas, publishing influential monographs and handbooks and training and mentoring the next generation of leaders in robotics education and research"

Satoshi Tadokoro - Tohoku University, Japan
"For his outstanding service and activities for Technical Committees, Administrative Committee, Chapter and Conferences"

Mengchu Zhou - New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA
"For his outstanding contribution and leadership in RAS Journals, Conferences and Technical Activities"

RAS Early Career Award - Academic
Jan Peters - Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
"For the development of new robot learning approaches, architectures and methods and their application to anthropomorphic robots"

Cyril Stachniss - University of Freiburg, Germany
"For his contribution to mobile robot exploration and simultaneous localization and mapping"

RAS Early Career Award - Industry/Government
Matei Ciocarlie - Willow Garage, USA
"For major contributions to robotic manipulation research, released as open-source and widely adopted and used in both academia and industry"

Radu B. Rusu - Open Perception, Inc, USA
"For contributions to creating and leading an open source ecosystem that fosters technology transfer in 3D perception between academia and industry"

IEEE Inaba Technical Award for Innovation Leading to Production
Fan-Tien Cheng - National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan
"For contributions to the development of the Automatic Virtual Metrology (AVM) System"

IEEE Robotics and Automation Award for Product Innovation
Fain-Biomedical, Inc. - Nagoya, Japan
"In recognition of the Endovascular Evaluator (EVE), forefront of medical simulator for training and evaluation of endovascular surgery"

RAS Most Active Technical Committee Award
TC on Automated Ground Vehicles and Intelligent Transportation Systems
Chair: Philippe Martinet
Co-Chairs: Christian Laugier and Christoph Stiller

RAS Chapter of the Year Award
Italy Chapter
Chair: Gianluca Antonelli

Nominations for the 2014 Society Awards are due by 1 August 2013, and should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., using the templates found at

In Memorium: Dick Volz - RAS Pioneer, Colleague and Friend

Richard A. Volz (10 July 1937 - 19 June 2013)

Richard A. (Dick) Volz died on 19 June 2013 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Dick was an IEEE Fellow and President of the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society from 2006-2007. He was known as an exceptional researcher on robotics and control and was an excellent mentor to students and other researchers in robotics.

Dick was former department head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University. Prior to retirement from Texas A&M in 2004, Dr. Volz was the Royce E. Wisenbaker Professor of Engineering and served as department head from 1988 to 1997. In 2010 a festschrift entitled "Workshop on Intelligent Systems: A Festschrift for Richard Volz" was held at Texas A&M to honor and celebrate his career.

Before joining Texas A&M, Dr. Volz was the founding director of the Robotics Research Laboratory and professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan. While at the University of Michigan, he also served terms as associate department head, associate director of the Computer Center and director of the Computer and Image Processing Research Network (CIPRNet). In 1971, he spent the (Northern Hemisphere) summer at the University of Chile, as part of an Organization of American States program. During the summers of 1973 and 1974, he held a summer faculty position at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Northwestern University in 1960, 1961 and 1964 respectively.

He was the author or co-author of over 175 research papers and led over $15,000,000 in funded research projects. He served in numerous professional service positions, e.g., editor-in-chief of the "IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation," the leading journal in the field; associate editor of "IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems;" general chair of the "1990 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation;" vice-president for Publications for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS); member of the IEEE Publications, Services and Products Board; member of the IEEE Board of Directors; and numerous related committees. Early in his career, he served as secretary of the IEEE Automatic Control Group. As an undergraduate, he was editor of the "Northwestern Engineer."

In honor of his efforts, the "Dick Volz Best U.S. Ph.D. Thesis in Robotics and Automation" was established. This award recognizes outstanding researchers in the field of robotics and automation who have obtained their Ph.D. degree at any U.S. institution in any topic within robotics and automation.

Dr. Volz also served on five federal advisory boards: 1) the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, 2) the Ada Board, 3) The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, a Congressional oversight committee on NASA, 4) the NASA Space Station Advisory Panel, and 5) the NASA Center of Excellence in Information Technology Advisory Panel.

While he was best known for his work in robotics and automation, especially networked telerobotics and teleautonomous systems, he worked in a broad set of interconnecting areas. Early in his career, he led the development of two computer aided design methods for control systems that were used in a number of universities and companies around the world. He also worked on optimal control systems and computational methods of optimization. Later, he worked on real time systems and distributed languages, and led the development of a distributed Ada technology and graphical system for managing the distribution of modules among networked computers. He completed his technical career working on the use of artificial intelligence concepts for training a human workforce.

In addition to his IEEE Fellow award, he received the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service from the U.S. Air Force, the Public Service Award from NASA, two Special Service Awards from NASA, an appreciation plaque from the NASA astronauts, and the Millennium Medal and Robotics & Automation Society Distinguished Service Award from IEEE. As an undergraduate, he received the Esbach Award, the highest award given to an undergraduate engineering student at Northwestern.

At the "IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation" held in Shanghai, China, Dr. Volz was named the recipient of the prestigious IEEE RAS George Saridis Leadership Award in Robotics and Automation for 2011. This award recognized Dr. Volz for his exceptional leadership throughout the Robotics Automation Society's history in publications, conference procedures, award procedures and financial analysis and planning for publications and conferences.

An endowed scholarship for a student at Texas A&M has been established in honor of Dr. Volz. Contributions can be sent to:
The Texas A&M Foundation
401 George Bush Drive
College Station, Texas 77480, USA

Be sure to designate the "Richard A. Volz Memorial Scholarship" in the memo line of the check.

You are invited to add your remembrances of Dr. Volz at


2013 RAS AdCom Election - Call for Nominations

The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society membership will elect six new members of the Administrative Committee in 2013, each to serve a three-year term beginning in January of 2014. The AdCom is the governing body of the Society.

AdCom members must attend two formal meetings each year, one in conjunction with ICRA and the other usually in October/November in conjunction with another major conference. Each AdCom member is expected to serve on at least two boards and/or committees of the Society.

Any higher-grade member of the Society is eligible to serve and all higher-grade members plus graduate students may nominate candidates and vote.

To nominate a candidate or offer yourself as a candidate, contact the Society at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 15 July 2013.

Candidates may also petition to be on the ballot. All persons who, by the deadline, submit petitions with valid signatures and IEEE member numbers with at least 2% of the year-end voting membership will be placed on the ballot.

Only original signatures on paper or electronic signatures submitted through the RAS petition website will be accepted. Faxed or emailed signatures are NOT acceptable. Contact RAS at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to obtain a paper petition form or to set up an electronic petition.

Completed petitions must be received by 15 July 2013 to be placed on the ballot.

The Nominations Committee will consider all nominations and petitions and select the candidates to be placed on the ballot.