IEEE Robotics and Automation Society IEEE

Humanitarian Efforts


A new IEEE Robotics & Automation Society - Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (RAS-SIGHT) was approved by the Society's Administrative Committee at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in St. Paul in May 2012.

In September 2012, the IEEE Humanitarian Ad Hoc Committee (HAHC) approved the formation of RAS-SIGHT. RAS is the first IEEE Society to have a SIGHT!

The mission of RAS-SIGHT is the application of robotics and automation technologies for promoting humanitarian causes around the globe, and to leverage existing and emerging technologies for the benefit of humanity and towards increasing the quality of life in underserved, underdeveloped areas in collaboration with existing global communities and organizations.

In the first year, we will strive towards achieving the following objectives:
•       Provide a forum to assess the state-of-the-art on how robotics and automation technology can aid in humanitarian causes
•       Bring together our Society's members to participate in RAS-SIGHT activities
•       Work with students, researchers, developers and end-users to formulate robotics-oriented humanitarian competitions, challenges, educational, and co-op opportunities.

Participation is welcome to those applying robotic and automation technologies for humanitarian causes. If you are interested in participating in RAS-SIGHT activities contact Raj Madhavan, Chair,
RAS-SIGHT at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

RAS-SIGHT was recently feautred in the IEEE newspaper, The Institute.


Technology has the potential to transform the way we address the world’s toughest challenges. But, this will only happen if innovators know what technological tools humanitarian workers in-the-trenches truly need; and only humanitarian field workers know what innovations are truly sustainable. Unfortunately, there is a chasm between technological innovators and humanitarian field workers which almost always prevents this coordination from occurring. To bridge this gap, the UN Foundation, the Vodafone Group Foundation, and the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s preeminent technical professional society, are working together to create the Humanitarian Technology Challenge (HTC) 2008-2010.

The Humanitarian Technology Challenge (HTC) will identify real world problems that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) face in the areas of healthcare in the developing world and disaster relief, and develop technologically oriented real-world solutions to address these problems. IEEE is looking to engage its Societies, Councils, Geographic Units and general membership in developing sustainable tools that will help alleviating suffering and will increase the effectiveness and/or efficiency of humanitarian aid workers on the ground – delivering health care or tracking diseases or providing relief to those impacted by disaster.

HTC will provide humanitarian experts, in the field of health and emergency response, a forum to present core issues they deal with in the field. They will have the chance to work with IEEE engineers to create or modify sustainable technology solutions to address the challenge. This is not a campaign with the goal of developing innovative technology for the sake of research and development. Instead, HTC will provide a platform to address large development issues and match them with sustainable technology solutions.

The HTC is an unprecedented opportunity to encourage IEEE members from around the world to collaborate using their skills and education to benefit humanity. The problems (challenges) will be framed with the environmental, cultural, structural, political and socio-economic and resource constraints so that solutions can be developed, deployed and sustained.

The Humanitarian Technology Challenge will raise the visibility of the IEEE through a comprehensive communications/outreach plan. It will enhance the bond with IEEE members by tangibly demonstrating the IEEE Core Purpose of “fostering technological innovations and excellence for the benefit of humanity.” It will provide an opportunity to collaborate with highly respected international organizations such as the United Nations Foundation, United Nations entities such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF and International Red Cross. It will help us respond to the need voiced by several of our younger members to address world problems in a tangible manner. It will allow us to leverage the geographic and technical diversity of the IEEE in solving large scale problems. It will allow us to investigate the use of technology and social networking innovations to capture the interest and excitement of student and young professional members, worldwide. By doing this, we hope to cast the IEEE as essential to the global technical community and to technical professionals everywhere and to be universally recognized for the contributions of technology and of technical professionals in improving global conditions.

RAS participation in the HTC

The participation of the whole IEEE Community is achieved through a group called the Society (and Council) Partnership Group (SPG).

This group’s role is to assist in coordination and forward progress of the project. Activities would include:

  • Identifying related Society activities already underway in the defined humanitarian spaces;
  • Providing input to, and framing of, the Challenge areas;
  • Driving Solutions from Society members;
  • Providing advertising channels for the project through conferences, meetings, pubs;
  • Developing creative ways to enthuse and motivate general participation by Society members;
  • Leveraging their corporate relationships for solution partnerships.

The RAS representative in the IEEE HTC-SPG is Gianmarco Veruggio