IEEE Robotics and Automation Society IEEE

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


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

Congratulations to Ruzena Bajcsy - recipient of the 2013 IEEE Robotics and Automation Award

"For contributions to computer vision, the active perception paradigm, and medical robotics"


Robotics BajcsyA driving force in the field of robotics for over three decades, Ruzena Bajcsy's pioneering work on machine vision and perception has helped robots achieve humanlike performance. During the 1980s, she was the first to recognize that active perception was needed to improve computer vision/information acquisition. Active perception enables mobile robots to actively control camera positions and other image acquisition conditions. Dr. Bajcsy's landmark work on computer vision also includes modeling of deformable objects, elastic model matching, and visual hyperacuity, which has had important implications for medical robotics and imaging. Dr. Bajcsy founded the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory in 1978 at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1998, she became the first woman to lead the National Science Foundation's Directorate of Computer and Information Science and Engineering. An IEEE Fellow, Dr. Bajcsy is the NEC Chair Professor with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

The IEEE Robotics and Automation Award was established in 2002 by the IEEE Board of Directors, and is presented for contributions in the field of robotics and automation. It includes but is not limited to: manufacturing automation; robotics and automation in unstructured environments; sensor design; integration and fusion; robot design; modeling; planning and control; methodologies for robotics and automation, and the quality of the nomination.

Past Recipients:
2012 – Bernard Roth
2011 – Hirochika Inoue
2010 – Toshio Fukuda
2009 – Antal Bejczy
2008 – Paul G. Backes
           Eric T. Baumgartner
           Larry H. Matthies
2007 – Gerd Hirzinger
2006 – George A. Bekey
2005 – Seiuemon Inaba
2004 – Joseph F. Engelberger


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!


The Tibion Bionic Leg Wins the IERA 2013 Award

IERA logoKarlsruhe, 8 May 2013 - The 9th annual Invention and Entrepreneurship Award in Robotics and Automation (IERA) was presented to Robert Horst, AlterG Inc. (former Tibion Corporation) for the Tibion Bionic Leg, at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Karlsruhe, Germany.

"The awards committee had a difficult choice to make with three excellent finalists. In the end, we picked the Tibion Bionic Leg for the following reason as noted in the citation for the award: 'A breakthrough product for rehabilitation of stroke patients at an affordable price, and offering a compelling story of an entrepreneurial journey with typical ups-and-downs culminating in a successful business'", commented Raj Madhavan, Vice President of IEEE-RAS Industrial Activities Board and Chairman of the Awards Committee.

"I was very happy to accept this award for the AlterG Bionic Leg because it acknowledges the growing importance of robotics for rehabilitation. It is gratifying to receive such a prestigious award after our team has worked so hard to perfect the Bionic Leg and introduce it into physical therapy. I am looking forward to working with the expanded AlterG team to accelerate the availability of Bionic Leg therapy and develop future innovations in rehabilitation robotics" stated Robert Horst of AlterG.

The Tibion Bionic Leg (TBL) is a wearable, battery-powered, robotic mobility assistance device. It is a robotic trainer that is activated by the patient's intent to move. The TBL is used by physical therapists for patients with impaired mobility and is designed to strengthen stance, improve gait, and enhance active motor learning while protecting its users.

Tibion Incorporated was founded in 2002. Robert Horst started research of the Bionic Leg years after his knee surgery. After developing the hard- and software of the product, Tibion sold the first Bionic Leg in 2009. By today the company has sold more than a hundred units. Tibion is now part of AlterG, Inc., a company who is revolutionizing modern rehabilitation through the use of the cutting edge Anti-Gravity Treadmill® and Bionic Leg. The Bionic Leg is currently available in over 100 hospitals, physical therapy facilities and skilled nursing facilities worldwide. The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill® technology was originally developed for NASA and is the first FDA-cleared medical device that uses patented differential air pressure technology. AlterG products are used by major medical centers, leading physical therapy clinics, top professional and collegiate teams and athletes, and individual sports and fitness programs worldwide.

The awards committee cited the other two finalists as follows:

The Thymio II Educational Robot by Stéphane Magnenat, ETH Zürich and Fanny Riedo, EPFL, Switzerland

"An inspiring product motivating young boys and girls to enter science, technology, engineering and math disciplines."

Intelligent Grit-blasting Robots for The Surface Preparation Industry by Professor Dikai Liu, University of Technology, Australia

"A good example of bringing robotics and automation technologies to tackle dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks, and to improve infrastructure maintenance."

In 2005 the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE/RAS) and the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) agreed to jointly sponsor the Invention and Entrepreneurship Award. The purpose of this award is to highlight and honor the achievements of the inventors with value creating ideas and entrepreneurs who propel those ideas into world-class products. At the same time the joint disposition of the award underlines the determination of both organizations to promote stronger collaboration between robotics science and robotics industry. The annual presented award consists of a plaque and a $2,000 honorarium.

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

Judging is now open for the ICRA 2013 Photo Contest!

Let Contest Begin! Please help us choose a winner!

Read more: Judging is now open for the ICRA 2013 Photo Contest!

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

Enter to win an iPad mini - ICRA Photo Contest

Do you enjoy photography, have an artistic eye and are up for a challenge? If you are attending ICRA 2013 in Karlsruhe, Germany, RAS invites you to participate in a photography contest. Photos should capture the essence of ICRA, exhibit creativity and technical skill. You are invited to submit up to three original photos taken during the event from 6-10 May 2013. The winner will receive an iPad mini.

ICRA eNews Photo ContestAll photos submitted to this contest may be used by RAS in future promotions, the RAS Facebook page, the RAS website or other opportunities.

Deadline for Submission of Photos: 17 May 2013

Judging: Photos will be placed in an album on the RAS Facebook Page. The photo with the most "likes" by 31 May will be the winner. RAS members and the public will be encouraged to vote for their favorite photo.

Please use the following form to submit your entry:

For questions, or to submit your entry via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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.

RAS Panel of Conference Organizers (POCO)

Conference timelines, Concentration Banking Accounts, Budgets, Whether to hire a meeting planner, Conference Closings, Hotel Contracts, Insurance, Tax Issues— organizing a conference can be a daunting task, especially a large conference like ICRA or IROS involving a thousand people or more. Anyone who is involved in organizing an IEEE Conference is urged to attend and get answers to your questions about the organization, requirements, logistics and finances of conferences, both large and small.

The RAS Panel of Conference Organizers (RAS POCO) will take place on Monday, 6 May from 9:00-14:00 during ICRA 2013, in room SR3-Konzerthaus in Karlsruhe, Germany. Lunch will be provided by RAS.

Tentative AGENDA
09:00-09:15 - Opening Remarks for the Mini POCO - David Orin
09:15-09:45 - Conferences in RAS - Nikos Papanikolopoulos
09:45-10:15 - Conference Initiation and MOUs - Kathy Colabaugh
10:15-10:45 - Conference Timeline & Checklist - Nikos Papanikolopoulos
10:45-11:15 - Conference Basics - Nikos Papanikolopoulos
11:15-12:00 - Conference Finance and Closing - Ron Lumia
12:00-12:30 - Working LUNCH
12:30-14:00 - How IEEE MCE can assist Organizers - Alicia Zupeck
14:00 - Q&A


Please register for this FREE workshop on-line

Or register by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.