The Biggest Robotics Research Conference Is Now More Accessible Than Ever- ICRA 2020



If it wasn’t for COVID-19, we’d probably be in Paris right now, enjoying the beautiful weather, stuffing ourselves with pastries, and getting ready for another amazing edition of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), the world’s largest robotics research gathering. We’re not doing any of that, of course. Personally, I’ve barely left my house since March, and the in-person ICRA conference in Paris was quite sensibly cancelled a while ago. The good news, however, is that ICRA is now a virtual conference instead, and the reason that it’s good news (and not just some sad pandemic-y compromise) is that the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) and the ICRA conference committees have put in an astonishing amount of work in a very short period of time to bring the entire conference online in a way that actually seems like it might work out pretty well for everyone. Click to read the full article

For more information on ICRA 2020 virtual conference (31 May - 31 August)-

We are planning several virtual gatherings for RAS society members and students. Tune back here for more information.

These include:

4 Student Activities hosted by the Student Activities Committee (SAC), RAS Town Hall,  a Women in Engineering (WIE) Summer Mentoring Event, as well as a Young Professionals Networking Event!

We are excited to offer 4 different virtual activities for all student attendees of ICRA 2020. If you're interested in testing your knowledge of robots, video or graphic design skills, or want to meet with world leaders in robotics, then sign up for one of the events below! Space is limited!

Robot Trivia

Think you know about robots? We'll see about that! Join us virtually for a SAC-hosted trivia event where we test your knowledge about robots in popular culture, music, movies, and even from a technical perspective.

We offer the Robot Trivia sessions at the following times below. Please form a team of up to 5 members and only sign up for one time slot based on what works best for you and your team members. If team members are not specified, you will be placed onto a team. Each trivia session includes 6-7 rounds of 10 questions each.


Date and time of events:
3 June 2020, 5am CEST (8pm Pacific/11pm EDT)
4 June 2020, 10pm CEST (1pm Pacific/4pm EDT)
8 June 2020, 6pm CEST (9am Pacific/12 noon EDT) 


  • Format of event: Live video
  • Main Organizers: Geoff Nagy and Blake Hament
  • Is registration required? Yes. Preferably in teams.
  • Link to registration

Video Challenge

Test your creative and video design skills in this digital event where you design and upload a video on 1 of the following 2 topics.

  • How Can Robots Help During COVID-19?      OR
  • Funny Robot Videos From Your Lab

Submissions should be uploaded as Unlisted videos on YouTube, and should be no longer than 5 minutes. You may work collaboratively as a team, or individually. Video submissions may be developed by your team during the conference itself (preferred), but you may also use existing content that belongs to you and your lab. All content should belong exclusively to you and your lab.

After uploading, email the link to the YouTube video to Cara Nunez at, the SAC Chair. The SAC committee will judge all submissions and announce 1 winner for each of the 2 topics. Submissions are due 31 August 11:59 CEST.

SAC Logo Design Contest

Do you have a background in or experience with digital or graphic design? The SAC wants you! design a new logo for them!

The old logo : SAC Logo

Please submit a vector graphic image so that we can use it in a variety of settings and scales. Email your submission to Cara Nunez at, the SAC Chair. The SAC committee will judge all submissions and announce 1 winner. The winner's logo will replace the old one and will be featured online. Submissions are due 31 August 11:59 CEST.

Meet With RAS Leaders

This is the virtual equivalent of the popular Lunch with Leaders event that has historically filled up so quickly we have had to turn people away at the door! This time, however, we will be offering it in a digital venue.

Meet virtually with industry and academic leaders from around the world as they talk about their experiences and offer insight and advice. Each session will have 1-3 Leaders present with a number of other students. The Leaders will give a short, informal presentation on a fun topic of their choice and then answer questions from the student attendees.

Please sign up for only 1 of the following times:

2 June 2020, 12pm PDT Aleksandra Faust (2020 RAS Early Industry Career Award in RA)
3 June 2020,10am AEST Peter Corke (2020 George Saridis Leadership Award) and colleagues
4 June 2020, 8pm JST Toshio Fukuda (IEEE President)
8 June 2020, 12:30 JST Zhidong Wang (RAS VP EPSB), Yasushi Nakauchi (RAS VP FAB), Yasuhisa Hirata (RAS AdCom 2022)
9 June 2020, 1am KST Frank Park (RAS President Elect)
8 June 2020, 12pm CDT Lydia Kavraki (2020 RAS Pioneer Award Winner)
11 June 2020, 10am PDT Allison Okamura (Editor-in-Chief of RA-L) and Marcia O'Malley (IROS 2020 Program Chair)
11 June 2020, 12pm PDT
Dieter Fox (2020 RAS Pioneer Award Winner)
12 June 2020, 3pm CEST Torsten Kroeger (RAS VP of Conference Activities)

Young Professionals Networking Event 

Tea with TCs! This informal virtual event is open to ICRA attendees in the early stages of their career — young professionals and researchers. Participants will enjoy a round of “speed networking” with chairs and co-chairs of the RAS Technical Committees (TCs) who will be available for informal conversation centered on new technologies in robotics and automation, future growth in the field, and how to get involved and contribute to RAS Technical Committee work.  Space for this event will be limited to ensure a more informal interaction so stay tuned for registration information!

  • Date and time of the event: Friday, 19 June 9am-11am est.
  • Format of event: Live speed-networking event using break out rooms in Webex
  • Primary Organizer: Megan Emmons:


RAS Town Hall

Calling all members of the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society. ICRA 2020 will include a live panel discussion by the Society's past, present, and future presidents: Wolfram Burgard, Seth Hutchinson, and Frank Park. There will be a chance for questions and comments, both live and submitted online. Tell us what you like about the Robotics and Automation Society, what you don’t like, and how we can improve it!

  • Date and time of event: Tuesday, 9 June 10:00am EDT
  • Format of event: Live panel discussion
  • Organizer: Seth Hutchinson
  • Is registration required? Yes, coming soon

Women in Engineering -  Summer Mentoring Event

Please sign up for our Summer Mentoring Event. We will hold three events across three major regions/timezone groupings, depending on the interest of the registered participants. We will announce the date of the event(s) in June, to be held in July 2020. The event(s) will consist of small group mentoring, a chatroom with a prominent researcher who is able to give advice/answer questions about your topic of interest. We expect you will be able to "switch rooms" to visit with multiple researchers during the event.

Calling all past, present and future RAS Members: We want to connect with YOU via the first ever virtual RAS Town Hall. This live event will feature a Panel of the Past, Present and Future RAS Presidents, as they talk about the history of the Society, where we are right now, and opportunities and ideas for the future of the organization and the robotics community.

When: LIVE on Tuesday, 9 June at 4:00pm CEST (10:00am EDT)
Where: Join the live online event here:

This session will also be recorded, and available until 31 August.



Wolfram Burgard

Wolfram Burgard, President 2018-2019
University of Freiburg, Germany
Toyota Research Institute (TRI)




Seth Hutchinson

Seth Hutchinson, President 2020-2021
Georgia Tech, United States





Frank Park

Frank Park, President 2022-2023
Seoul National University, Republic of Korea



In addition to our Panelist presentations an open discussion will be held, and YOUR questions will be answered and discussed. Please submit Questions to spark discussion or get answers! Your question can be general society or program related, or a question directly for one of our Presenters. We invite questions to be submitted in advance using this online form:

Attendees will also have the opportunity to submit questions during the live event via the chat feature.

We look forward to a lively discussion!

Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, and Microsoft Teams

Check out our IEEE RAS branded virtual background images for video conferencing tools such as ZoomGoogle MeetSkype, and Microsoft Teams!


IEEE RAS Virtual Background 1 light  IEEE RAS Virtual Background 2 dark


Note: For Google Meet, camera add-on or extension is required.

View instructions on how to upload background images for a Zoom meeting.

View instructions on how to upload background images for a Skype meeting.

View tips to use IEEE virtual backgrounds with Microsoft Teams.

ICRA 2020 logo conf virticra banner tag


On behalf of the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society, the ICRA organizing committee is delighted to invite you to attend the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2020), to be held fully virtually, from 31 May to 31 August. Live content will be available from 31 May to 15 June, so be sure to tune in! On demand recorded content will be available until 31 August.

The coronavirus pandemic has quickly become the most dramatic and disruptive event experienced by this generation.
The disease has spread very quickly around the world and the growing number of new infections and patients in need of intensive medical care has pushed clinical services care beyond their limits, revealing a shortage of trained personnel and lifesaving equipment, such as ventilators. In addition, frontline health professionals operate in highly infectious areas, exposing themselves to the risk of becoming infected. The most common political response to mitigate the spread of the disease has been to promote social distancing, and locking down entire countries. Although being effective, these measures impose heavy social and economic consequences.

Kaspar Althoefer

Kaspar Althoefer, RAS Administrative Committee member, and his Team at the Queen Mary University of London step up to create and provide PPE to the frontline. The are using 3D printing technologies help establish mass-production of face shields.

A full article is available on IEEE Spectrum.

New Consortium Mobilizes Roboticists to Help With COVID-19 and Future Crises.

Robin Murphy

Robotics for Infections Diseases consortium explores the role of robots in the coronavirus pandemic. A group of roboticists, led by Robin Murphy, IEEE Fellow, RAS Member and long time Volunteer, recently formed this consortium. The Steering Committee is made up of many RAS Members and Leaders in the robotics field.

For more information see:

An Interview Series with public health, public safety, and emergency management experts is available through a series of recordings and future live events. Please check back soon! 

A full article is available on IEEE Spectrum.

s gupta

RAS Member, IEEE Fellow and long time Volunteer, Satyandra K. Gupta is leading a research team at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles that is building a robotic arm that uses a UV light to sanitize contaminated areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A special thanks to these amazing researchers for assisting during this diffucult time. 

Link to article

Antonio Bicchi small

RAS Member, IEEE Fellow and long time Volunteer, Antonio Bicchi and his Team from IIT of Genoa (Italian Institute of Technology) and by I-RIM, the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, have developed and launched remote-controlled robots for local hospitals, allowing patients with Covid-19 to video call their loved ones at home, without endangering healthcare professionals.

A special thanks to these amazing researchers for assisting our most vulnerable.

The complete story is HERE

The project description is HERE.

The following outlines an initiative started by the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society. IEEE Robotics and Automation Society is a financial co-sponsor of the IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems (TCDS).


Scientists and researchers all over the globe are working hard to address various issues related to the COVID 19 crisis such as modelling and analysis of the mechanisms underlying the spread of the virus, along with modelling how various interventions can help control the propagation of the disease, finding useful treatment protocols, potential drugs, and vaccines. 

The role of technology, in particular, that of Computational Intelligence to deal with the crisis, should not be underestimated.  In order to take part in this fight against COVID 19, the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (IEEE CIS) has set up a program, the COVID 19 Initiative. Under this initiative, the Editors-in-Chief will expedite, to the extent possible, the processing of all articles submitted to any of the CIS publications, with primary focus (as judged by the Editors-in-Chief) on COVID 19.  Please check the S1M submission site of your desired publication for instructions as to how to submit a COVID-19 focused manuscript.

If accepted, all such articles will be published, free-of-charge to authors and readers, as free access for one year from the date of the publication to enable the research findings to be disseminated widely and freely to other researchers and the community at large.  Any such article will go through the standard review process followed for the publication and the article must be within the scope of the publication.

We request that individuals follow the advice provided by the World Health Organization as well as local administration to stay safe and healthy.  Let’s do our part to understand and control this virus that is sweeping across the planet.

Edson Prestes

IEEE RAS Member and Volunteer Edson Prestes, Federal University of RioGrande do Sul, Brazil, has been invited by Audrey Azoulay, Unesco’s Director General, to join an international Ad Hoc Expert Group in charging of preparing a preliminary text for an international law on Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. This law will be the first global standard-setting instrument on ethics of artificial intelligence. This group is comprised of 24 of the world’s leading experts on the social, economic and cultural challenges of artificial intelligence. UNESCO decided to create this normative instrument during UNESCO’s General Conference in November 2019 and its goal is to have this law adopted by its Member States at the end of 2021. UNESCO has a long tradition on creating this kind of normative instruments. An example is Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, adopted in 1997.

More information and a full list of members is available here:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have extended the submission deadline to: 15 June 2020

There is a substantive body of work on methods providing robustness to robotic systems, but research on resilience is scattered, and the distinction between resilience and robustness is still poorly understood. As a result, this special issue has two main goals: (1) to provide a deeper understanding of resilience for networked systems and (2) to assemble works that demonstrate the importance of resilient methods. In an effort to disseminate the current advances in designing and operating resilient robotic networks, and to stimulate a discussion on the future research directions in this field, the IEEE Transactions on Robotics (T-RO) invites papers for a Special Issue in this area. Researchers are invited to submit papers on the foundational, algorithmic, and experimental aspects of design, modeling, control and validation of resilience in robotic networks.

Standards Assoc logoThe IEEE Standards Association under the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society has started a Study Group to investigate the feasibility of creating standards and performance metrics to measure robot agility, with the goal of enabling robots to be more productive, more autonomous, and to require less human interaction.

Agility in this context is broadly defined as addressing failure identification and recovery, automated planning to minimize up-front programming time, and enabling plug and play robots to allow for easier swapping of different robots without massive reprogramming downtime.

We expect this effort to address robot agility in a wide range of applications, such as manufacturing, healthcare, defense, and service robots.

How to get involved

If you are interested in being involved with this IEEE SA Study Group (and the future working group) and having the opportunity to shape the future of these efforts, please contact Anthony Downs at


tro banner

Volume 36, Number 2, April 2020

Table of Contents


It's not too late! If you have good ideas and enthusiam, consider a self nomination today! The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society membership will elect six new members of the Administrative Committee in 2020, each to serve a three-year term beginning 1 January 2021. The AdCom is the governing body of the Society.

IEEE RAS logo 4C stacked small


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 by 1 May 2020.


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 the Society at to obtain a paper petition form or to set up an electronic petition.

Completed petitions must be received by 1 May 2020 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.

Each year, the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society offers financial support for three Technical Education Programs (RAS-TEP), formerly Summer Schools. In efforts to bring RAS closer to its membership, these programs rotate though the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Pacific Rim.

Japan 2019 participants cropped

IEEE realizes that many are directly or indirectly engaged in the fight against COVID-19 and its effects on global health and safety, research, infrastructure, communications, and more. IEEE has identified articles from the IEEE Xplore digital library that may help researchers understand and manage different aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic and technologies that can be leveraged to combat it.

All content in this collection is now free to access, with additional rights for all types of reuse, including full text and data mining, and analysis.

We are continually monitoring the developments and will update the IEEE Xplore content periodically.

Thank you for your support of our shared mission to advance technology for humanity.

Xplore Logo

If your organization has an institutional subscription to IEEE Xplore(R) and you need to work remotely due to school and workplace closures, you can still access IEEE Xplore and continue your work and research while offsite. Try these tips for remote access or contact IEEE for help. IEEE is here to support you, making certain that your IEEE subscription continues to be accessible to all users so they can continue to work regardless of location.

Easy Links