Congratulations to the six RAS members elected by the membership to serve a three-year term beginning 1 January 2017. 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:

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Seth Hutchinson
University of Illinois, USA




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Hong Qiao
Chinese Academy of Sciences, China





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

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Anthony Maciejewski
Colorado State University, USA




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

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Antonio Bicchi
University of Pisa, Italy



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

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Yasuhisa Hasegawa
Nagoya University, Japan




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Dong-Soo Kwon
KAIST, South Korea

With heartfelt gratitude the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society (RAS) and the robotics community bids farewell to Ken Goldberg, who enthusiastically served from 2011-2016 as Editor-in-Chief of T-ASE. Successor Michael Yu Wang has some big shoes to fill, but will be assisted by Samantha Jacobs and the T-ASE Editorial Team.

T ASE handoff

Ken Goldberg, UC Berkeley, took the helm in October 2011 and never looked back. The journal has grown in volume and page count, in prestige, and has seen huge growth in reach and impact factor during his tenure. In his last Editorial, Ken reviews the team effort that doubled the T-ASE Impact Factor over 5 years and quotes RAS Past President Raja Chatila: "One Robot is Robotics, Ten Robots is Automation"

Automation has now come of age! RAS, the T-ASE Editors and Associate Editors, and the automation community will miss the Leadership provided by Ken. We wish him well in all future endeavors!

Ken is succeeded by Michael Yu Wang, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Michael's areas of expertise are as follows:
Primary areas: Human-Centered Automation, Assembly Modeling, Manufacturing, Grasping, Fixturing, Feeding.
Secondary areas: Theoretical Methods, Algorithmic Foundations, Machine Tools, Numerical Optimization.

IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems
Special Issue on Bio-inspired Social Robot Learning in Home Scenarios

There has been considerable progress in robotics in the last years allowing robots to successfully contribute to our society. We can find them from industrial environments, where they are nowadays established, to domestic places, where their presence is steadily rising. The proposed special issue intends to explore the following question: "How well prepared are learning robots to be social actors in daily-life home environments in the near future."

The special issue is therefore not only an opportunity to address this focuses on the latest scientific contributions on bio-inspired learning and social robotics, but also links them with a clear focus to push the presence of robots in people's daily-life environment. Thus, one main goal of the special issue is offering a common foundation for roboticists from different fields of expertise to contribute beyond the current state-of-the-art of learning methods in robotics especially applied to home scenarios and recent developments in assistive robots.

The subjects of the special issue include, but are not limited to:
- Interactive reinforcement learning.
- Policy and reward shaping.
- Neural learning of object affordances and contextual affordances.
- Predictive learning from sensorimotor information.
- Learning understanding of environment ambiguity.
- Learning with hierarchical and deep neural architectures.
- Bootstrapping complex action learning in robots.
- Learning supported by external trainers, by demonstration and imitation.
- Parental scaffolding as a bootstrapping method for learning.

The special issue is open for all submissions which will be independently peer-reviewed in accordance with IEEE policy. Manuscripts should be prepared according to the "Information for Authors" of the journal, found at, and submitted through the IEEE TCDS Manuscript center under the category: "SI: Social Robots": Papers submitted must not have been published previously, though they may represent significant extensions of prior work.

31 January 2017 - Deadline for manuscript submission.
15 April 2017 - Notification of authors.
15 May 2017 - Deadline for revised manuscripts.
15 June 2017 - Final decisions.

For further information, please contact one of the following guest editors in this order:
Francisco Cruz - Knowledge Technology Institute, University of Hamburg, Germany - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jimmy Baraglia - Emergent Robotics Laboratory, Osaka University, Japan - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Yukie Nagai - Emergent Robotics Laboratory, Osaka University, Japan - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Stefan Wermter - Knowledge Technology Institute, University of Hamburg, Germany - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2016 IEEE International Conference on Simulation, Modeling, and Programming for Autonomous Robots
San Francisco, California USA
13-16 December 2016


Early Registration Deadline: 31 October 2016

After a very selective review process, approximately half of the paper submissions were rejected, and we are looking forward to a high-quality, single track program of IEEE SIMPAR 2016.


Emo Todorov
Erwin Coumans
Luis Sentis


Combining Optimal Control, Reinforcement Learning and Movement
Primitives to Achieve Better Robot Motions
Organizer: Katja Mombaur

Grand Challenges in Robotic Simulation
Organizer: Evan Drumwright

Modeling and Simulating Mechanical Rigid-Body Systems Using Siconos
Organizers: Vincent Acary and Stephen Sinclair

The Role of Simulation in Robot Programming
Organizers: Maria Gini and Enrico Pagello


Technical tours will be held on 17 December 2016 (incl. robotics lab tours at UC Berkeley and Stanford University).


The Parc 55 – A Hilton Hotel
We offer discounted room rates for SIMPAR attendees.
On 14 December 2016, all conference attendees will be able to enjoy a beautiful dinner cruise on the San Francisco Bay.

WAFR 2016

The 2016 International Workshop on the Algorithmic Foundations of Robotics (WAFR) will take place in San Francisco from 18-20 December 2016, adjacent to SIMPAR 2016.


3D robot simulation and mathematical modeling of robots
Learning from simulation
Reliability, scalability and validation of robot simulation
Simulated sensors and actuators
Machine learning for robotics applications
Offline simulation of robot design
Online simulation with real-time constraints
Simulation with software/hardware in the loop
Middleware for robotics
Modeling framework for robots and environments
Testing and validation of robot software
Standardization for robotic services
Communication infrastructures in distributed robotics
Interaction between sensor networks and robots
Human robot interaction and collaboration
Simulation of multi-robot systems
Model-based optimization and optimal control
Model predictive control


If you have questions, need additional support, or encounter problems, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2017 IEEE RAS–SIGHT Humanitarian Robotics & Automation Technology Challenge (HRATC'17)
29-30 May, ICRA 2017, Singapore (Porto Alegre, Brazil remotely)

competition photo

Edson Prestes (UFRGS, Brazil)
Alexandre Amory (PUCRS, Brazil)
Raj Madhavan (HumRobTech, LLC, & IEEE RAS-SIGHT, USA)

The fourth HRATC edition will follow the footsteps of previous ones and continue to focus on promoting the development of new strategies for autonomous landmine detection using a mobile (ground) robot. HRATC Challenge has three phases: 1) Simulation Phase, 2) Testing Phase, and 3) Finals Phase. The strategies developed by the participating teams will be according to the following criteria: exploration time and environmental coverage; detection and classification quality; and landmine avoidance. Teams will be progressively eliminated after each phase and the remaining teams would move on to the next phase culminating in the Challenge (Finals) phase at ICRA'17. All teams will use the same robot that will be available before (for remote practice runs) and during the Challenge. Furthermore, participants will have access to a ROS-based simulator to develop and test their code before testing it remotely on the real robot.

More details on the previous edition can be found at and from the following summary articles published in the IEEE RAS Robotics & Automation Magazine:
- 2015 Humanitarian Robotics and Automation Technology Challenge, IEEE RAS RAM, Sept. 2015.
- 2016 Humanitarian Robotics and Automation Technology Challenge, IEEE RAS RAM, Sept. 2016.

All potential participants should submit a paper (1-2 pages) in the standard IEEE format including figures that describes the motivation and previous experiences/researches (if any). The organizers will then evaluate this paper and an acceptance notification containing further steps would follow. All submissions should be sent to <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>. The Challenge will take place remotely in Porto Alegre, Brazil and beamed in real time to the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore during ICRA'17. Necessary logistics and travel support will be provided depending on the number of qualifying teams.

- Entry Deadline: 15 November 2016
- Acceptance Notifications: 1 December 2016
- Simulation Phase: 15 December 2016 - 15 February 2017
- Testing Phase: 1 March 2017 - 1 April 2017
- Challenge@ICRA'17: 29-30 May 2017

A downloadable CFP and more info. on HRATC'17 is available from

It is going to be amazing!


2016 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2016) will be held in Daejeon, Korea, 9-14 October 2016.

Victor Scheinman died at the age of 73 from a heart attack while visiting his brother in Northern California. Vic lived in Woodside, near Palo Alto, CA USA and in San Francisco, CA USA.

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Vic graduated from MIT with a degree in Aero & Astro. He then entered Stanford as a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering and also spent a year in Belgium at the von Karmen Institute for Fluid Dynamics. After completing his Masters Degree he joined the Stanford Artificial Intelligence lab (SAIL) and enrolled for an Engineers Degree, which he completed in 1969. In connection with his Engineers Degree thesis he researched the idea of having a purely digital mechanical arm. This led to the "Orm" that was a prototype a pneumatically actuated multi-degree of freedom snake like arm. In addition, he was instrumental in modifying a Rancho Los Amigos exoskeleton arm for operation under computer control and he also participated in the design of a high-speed computer controlled humanoid hydraulic arm.

The main portion of his Engineers thesis dealt with the design of a six-degree-of-freedom computer controlled electric manipulator that he named The Stanford Arm. He then went on to produce over 10 copies of this Stanford Arm. It became the preferred research device in several university, government and industrial laboratories, and mathematical models of it were used as example in early robotics research papers and textbooks. This design is also deservedly referred to as "The Scheinman Stanford Robot Arm" or simply "The Scheinman Arm."

Vic then developed a six-axis force/torque sensing wrist that could be carried by the Scheinman Arm and other manipulators. This facilitated experiments in force control. He then returned briefly to MIT where he had been invited by Marvin Minsky to design a small humanoid arm for their AI Lab.

After returning to California, Vic started Vicarm, a company that produced copies of both his MIT design, which he named the Vicarm, and his Stanford arm. After several years his company was bought by Unimation, Inc. and was turned into the West Coast Division of Unimation. Vic's first new product, sponsored by General Motors through Unimation, was basically a scaled up industrial version of the Vicarm design. It was named the PUMA manipulator, and was well received both in academia and industry.

Victor left his company in 1980 to found the West Coast office of the computer vision company Automatix. After Vic left, Unimation was purchased by Westinghouse, and subsequently Brian Carlisle and Bruce Shimano, Vic's closest colleagues at Vicarm, arranged to reorganize Unimation's West Coast Division into Adept, Inc. For the rest of his life Vic remained close to and highly supportive of both Carlisle and Shimano.

At Automatix Vic invented Robot World. It was an entirely new concept for robotic use in manufacturing. He intended it to be used for circuit board assemble. Basically it was composed of multiple small manipulators magnetically suspended and free to move under computer control on an air cushion under an x-y table. Eventually Robot World was licensed for manufacture by the Japanese company Fujitsu.

After leaving Automatix Vic devoted his time to consulting and education. He coached design students in Stanford's Mechanical Engineering department and robotics labs. He was also active with High School students whom he mentored in connection with the First Robotics Competitions.

Vic received the Joseph F. Engelberger Award and also the ASME's Leonardo DaVinci Award for his work as a robot designer. Several of his manipulators are exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Vic was the consummate engineer. He kept extensive design notebooks, and his home shop was stocked with surplus hardware for electronic, computer and mechanical systems. He was totally a hands-on person, who did his own repairs and designs. He felt he could fix almost anything, and loved figuring out ways to solve problems. He always had a large number of projects going at the same time, and was very generous in providing his tools, parts, labor and expertise to his friends, colleagues and students. He will be greatly missed by the large community that he touched throughout his life with his dynamic personality and generous heart.

Fabrizio Flacco, a tenured research scientist of the French CNRS, suddenly passed away at the age of 34 on 18 September 2016, due to an undiagnosed congenital heart malformation, which burst while jogging with a friend.

F Flacco

Fabrizio took his master degree in Pisa as a student of Antonio Bicchi in 2007, and received his PhD from Sapienza University of Rome in 2011 with a thesis on "Modeling and Control of Robots with Compliant Actuation", with Alessandro De Luca as supervisor. In between, he spent a research period at the Stanford AI Lab (SAIL) with Oussama Khatib and his group. After a post-doc at Sapienza, working for the FP7 SAPHARI and the H2020 COMANOID European research projects, he became in December 2015, a Chargé de Recherche of the CNRS at LIRMM in Montpellier, in the IDH group led by Abderrahmane Kheddar. 

Dr. Flacco has been an IEEE RAS student member from 2009, and then a member since 2012. He served our community in different ways: he was among the promoters of the workshop series on Human-Friendly Robotics (HFR), a very central event for young researchers in the field, organized several workshops at ICRA and IROS conferences, was one of the Associate Editors in the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, and Co-Chair of the RAS Technical Committee on Algorithms for Planning and Control of Robot Motion. For a paper that appeared in the IEEE Transactions on Robotics in June 2015, Fabrizio received just few days before leaving us the 2016 IEEE RAS Italian Chapter Award for Best Paper by a Young Author. The Chapter decided right away to name the award after him (see

A collection of memories and pictures can be accessed at Our heartfelt condolences go to the family, his wife and two little daughters, from all his friends and colleagues.

RAS is pleased to arrange three Luncheon Networking events for our Members attending IROS 2016 in Daejeon, South Korea. Space is limited for these popular events. Don't miss the chance to attend either or both because the space has been filled. Advanced registration is required. The cost is $5 per lunch.
Register Now!

RAS Women in Engineering Leadership (WIE) Luncheon
Tuesday, 11 October from 12:15-13:30
Emerald Room/ 2F of the Daejeon Convention Center (DCC) (107, EXPO-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, South Korea)

The Women in Engineering (WIE) luncheon provides an opportunity to foster discussion on the role of women in robotics and automation, inspire girls and promote collaborations and initiatives to advance women in leadership. As the goal for this event is to be more than a lunch for women, but a lunch with women. Therefore, men are more than welcome to participate and enjoy the discussion.


Speaker: Manuela M. Veloso
Manuela is the Herbert A. Simon University Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the Head of the Machine Learning Department, and she has joint appointment in the Computer Science Department and courtesy appointments in the Robotics Institute and Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. She researches in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. She founded and directs the CORAL research laboratory, for the study of autonomous agents that Collaborate, Observe, Reason, Act, and Learn, Professor Veloso is IEEE Fellow, AAAS Fellow, AAAI Fellow, Einstein Chair Professor, and the co-founder and past President of RoboCup, and past President of AAAI. Professor Veloso and her students research with a variety of autonomous robots, including mobile service robots and soccer robots. See for further information, including publications.

There is a $5 USD registration fee to attend. Space is limited and first come, first served, so advanced registration is suggested.
Register here:


RAS Lunch with Leaders - LwL (for Students)
Wednesday, 12 October from 12:00-13:30
Crystal Ballroom A&B, Lotte City Hotel

This luncheon is open to student attendees and offers the chance to meet and interact with RAS and Industry Leaders. Get your questions answered regarding career advice, the direction of the industry, future growth in robotics & automation, publication practices, etc. YOU decide the topic of conversation!

Confirmed Leaders include:
Satoshi Takodoro, Torsten Kroeger, Martin Buss, Eugenio Guglielmelli, Ron Lumia, Erwin Prassler , Jing Xiao, Ning Xi, Raja Chatila, David Orin, I-Ming Chen, Wolfram Burgard, Allison Okamura

There is a $5 USD registration fee to attend. Space is limited and first come, first served, so advanced registration is suggested.
Register here:


Young Professionals Luncheon
Wednesday, 12 October from 12:00-13:30
Emerald Room/ 2F of Daejeon Convention Center (DCC)

This luncheon is open to attendees in the early stages of their career. New this Year! Chairs and co-Chairs of the RAS Technical Activities will be available for informal conversation centered on new technologies in robotics & automation, future growth in the field, and how to get involved and contribute to RAS Technical Committee work.

Confirmed RAS Technical Committee Leaders include: (TBD)

There is a $5 USD registration fee to attend. Space is limited and first come, first served, so advanced registration is suggested.
Register here:

As the ICRA2017 submission deadline approaches, we are looking for Senior Advisors for the Young Reviewers Program (YRP) of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS).

The Young Reviewers Program (YRP) is intended to introduce young RAS members to the best practices in peer-reviewing of scientific papers. As a Senior Reviewer, your role would be to give reviewing assignments to Junior Reviewers, and to oversee the review process in a mentor-mentee relationship.

Accepting to serve will not increase the number of papers that you review. Only papers that you have already accepted to review (for ICRA 2017) would be eligible for the YRP. In this way, we believe that there will be no net increase in your reviewing workload. The time you would normally spend writing a careful review would be invested instead in cultivating skills in a Junior Reviewer.

As a Senior Reviewer, you can contact a Junior Reviewer found from the YRP website (
and assign to the Junior Reviewer one ICRA paper that you have been asked to review and then work with the Junior Reviewer to perfect the review, which you will submit via PaperPlaza (see more details here).

Please join and sign up to the YRP web site, where you can find details of the eligibility and the procedure.

Best regards,
Arash Ajoudani - IEEE-RAS YRP Executive Manager - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Seth Hutchinson - IEEE-RAS YRP Director - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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