RAS E-News October 2008

Volume 6, Number 5

Welcome to RAS eNews! This e-newsletter was sent to all members of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. Send comments, queries, complaints and news items to r.g.snyder@ieee.org. To unsubscribe, go to http://ewh.ieee.org/enotice/options.php?SN=Snyder&LN=RA024. Be certain to include your IEEE member number. If you need assistance with your E-Notice subscription, please contact k.n.luu@ieee.org

1. The RAS Video Library is Now OnLine!!

The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Video Archive is now online at http://video.ieee-ras.org! On this website, videos from the IEEE International Conferences on Robotics and Automation since 1991 are archived in a searchable video library. The videos have been collected from previous ICRA conference DVDs , CDs and VHS tapes and digitized, thanks to the digitization project chaired by Paul Oh and help from Stefano Stramigioli, Hubert Flisijn, Olaf van Zandwijk, I-Ming Chen, Peter Luh,Surya Singh, and others.

The video metadata (like authors, description, affiliation, etc.) are displayed with the videos. During Q4 of 2008 and Q1 of 2009, this information will be updated and improved as we gather more information and integrate the contents with our member database.

The Video Archive currently contains 440 videos dating back to 1991, totalling more than 18 hours of walking, running, swimming, climbing, flying robots.

The Video Archive is presented as an exclusive service to RAS members, although some of the award winning videos will be made available to the public. RAS is discussing with the IEEE Xplore staff the feasibility of posting the videos on Xplore in the same way papers are posted.

How to access these videos

You will need to use your RAS member web account to access the video library. If you are already logged in to the main IEEE RAS website you will automatically be logged in here as well. You may search the library by year or by any word in the title.

2. IEEE-RAS/IFRR School of Robotics Science Jan 12-16, 2009

NSF Engineering Research Center for
Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology
The Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Summary: The NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer-integrated Surgical Systems and Technology (CISST ERC), along with the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, the International Federation of Robotics Research, and the US National Science Foundation, are proud to present a week-long “winter school” on medical robotics and computer-integrated interventional medicine. Co-organized with the 10th year celebration of the CISST ERC, this intensive short course will include tutorial lectures and research talks by internationally recognized faculty, lab tours & demonstrations in our new facilities in the Computational Sciences and Engineering Building on the Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus, and a compressed version of Johns Hopkins' unique Surgery for Engineers course.

Intended audience: The course is open to graduate students and young professionals beginning research in this exciting and rapidly expanding field.

Preliminary List of Faculty: We have recruited a distinguished international faculty from leading research institutions around the world. Although the list is still being finalized, it currently includes: Russell Taylor (organizer), Ralph Etienne-Cummings (organizer), Kiyoyuki Chinzei, Simon Dimaio, Etienne Dombre, Gabor Fichtinger, Gregory Hager, Blake Hannaford, Peter Kazanzides, Michael Marohn, Allison Okamura, Terry Peters, Cameron Riviere, Yoshinobu Sato, Luc Soler, Guang-Zhong Yang, Ichiro Sakuma.

Application Instructions: Apply via email to MRCIIS@jhu.edu. Applications will be accepted until the school is filled.


  • A completed application form (http://www.cisst.org/wiki2/images/4/48/MRCIISApplication.doc
  • A short CV (up to 4 pages) in PDF format
  • A 1-page statement describing your current research and motivation for attending this school
  • A letter in PDF format from your research advisor or supervisor approving your attendance at the course and agreeing to ensure that the course fees will be paid should you be accepted.

This short course is sponsored in part by the US National Science Foundation, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, the International Foundation of Robotics Research ( IFRR), and Johns Hopkins University.

3. IEEE-RAS/NIST Virtual Manufacturing Automation Competition


IEEE/NIST Virtual Manufacturing Automation Competition:Advancing Robotic Research through an Open Source High-Fidelity Simulation Framework and Competition


Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) represent an integral component of today’s manufacturing processes. They are widely used on factory floors for intra-factory transport of goods between conveyors and assembly sections, parts and frame movements, and truck-trailer loading/unloading. Automating these systems to operate in unstructured environments presents an exciting area of current research in robotics and automation. Unfortunately, the traditional entry barrier into this research area is quite high. Researchers need an extensive physical environment, robotic hardware, and knowledge in research areas ranging from mobility and mapping to behavior generation and scheduling. An accepted approach to lowering this entry barrier is through the use of simulation systems and open source software.

The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society has recognized the importance of this area by forming a new robot challenge competition that will take place annually at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). In addition, the National Institute of Standards and Technology will be administering a National Virtual Manufacturing Automation Competition (VMAC) that will provide an opportunity for well qualified teams to try their algorithms on actual robotic platforms. It is our belief that competitions are an effective means of stimulating interest and participation among students by providing exciting technological problems to tackle.


Under this effort, we are soliciting faculty members and their interested students from universities to be

introduced to this time-critical research area at a workshop to be held at CMU. Student involvement is strongly encouraged This competition is based on the successful VMAC competition ( http://vmac.hood.edu) held in April 2008 and the RoboCup Rescue Virtual Competitions (http://www.robocup-us.org/). Since all code used in these competitions is open source, participants are able to learn from their competitors and self-sustain their research in their areas of expertise.

Researchers from multi-agent cooperation, robotic mapping and localization, communications networks, and sensory processing backgrounds are particularly encouraged to participate. The participants will be provided with the necessary knowledge needed to join the robotics and automation research community in the area of manufacturing automation and will be provided with all relevant software. A full day tutorial will take place at each of the following three venues to introduce and discuss the simulation platforms and other associated details:

  • Carnegie Mellon University/University of Pittsburgh: October 23rd 2008
  • Georgia Institute of Technology: December 4th 2008
  • University of California, Merced: December 11th 2008


Please contact us with a succinct statement of how you expect to benefit from your participation. This year’s National VMA Competition will be held at the NIST campus in Gaithersburg MD, and the International Competition will be held during ICRA ’09 in Kobe, Japan. For both events, virtual participation is possible.


Using a metrics-driven competition model, advancements in the various technologies comprising the AGV control system are quantified, helping the community gauge as well as target progress. It is our belief that these competitions will serve as a model for establishing a university-community focused on a real-world practical problem. This effort is administered under the IEEE Washington/Northern Virginia Section Robotics & Automation Society Chapter. RAS Chapters from across the United States are invited to be a sponsor of this competition by spreading the word among their members and helping us with the local organization of the regional tutorials.


Dr. Stephen Balakirsky

Dr. Raj Madhavan

Mr. Chris Scrapper

Intelligent Systems Division

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8230.

Email: robosim@nist.gov

4. RAS AdCom Election: Voting Ends November 10

If you receive a paper ballot you may either return the ballot to the IEEE by fax or post or vote electronically using the secure election web site of Intelliscan https://www.intelliscaninc.com/ieee_ras_2008.htm with your member number and the control number provided on your printed ballot.

Email voters will receive their linked log-on to their ballots on the website or they may request paper ballots. For missing ballots contact Intelliscan at pnentwig@intelliscaninc.com or phone. +1(610)935-6172. All ballots must be returned by November 10 (12:00 Noon EST).

The candidates are: David Orin, Gaurav Sukhatme, Thomas Henderson, Nancy Amato, Jing Xiao, Antonio Bicchi, Erwin Prassler, Aude Billard, Christian Laugier, Max Meng, Hugh Durrant-Whyte, Li Chen Fu, Fumihito Arai, Hideki Hashimoto.

5. Seth Hutchinson takes the reins of T-Robotics

L-R: K Lynch, J-P Laumond, S. Hutchinson, A. De Luca, L. Parker, W.K. Chung, F. Park EiCs Seth Hutchinson and Alessandro De Luca (2nd and 3rd from left, with 5 past and current T-RO editors K Lynch, J-P Laumond, L. Parker, K.Y. Chung and F. Park in Nice at IROS 2008)

On October 1 2008, Seth Hutchinson, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, became the second Editor-in Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics. He succeeds the Founding Editor, Alessandro De Luca of the University of Roma "La Sapienza"

Prior to becoming the new EiC of T-RO, Hutchinson served as founding editor of the Robotics and Automation Society’s Conference Editorial Board from 2006 until October 2008. . He served on the editorial board of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, the predecessor to T-RO, as a guest editor, associate editor, and editor from 1996-2005, and also served on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Robotics Research and the Journal of Intelligent Service Robotics. He has also been an RAS AdCom member and chair of the Technical Committee on Computer and Robot Vision.

Hutchinson’s own research focuses on vision-based control of robotic manipulators, robot motion planning, and computer vision. He is also a talented bassist, who has played with a number of rock bands including the RAS band The Rasor.

6. Kumar and Bicchi Lead RAS SCTB and CEB

Vijay Kumar of the University of Pennsylvaniahas been appointed by RAS President Bruno Siciliano to cbair of the RAS Steering Committee for Technical Programs (SCTP), effective October 1. The SCTP is responsible for year-to-year consistency and coordination of the technical aspects of conferences such as: paper reviewing system; reviewer management process; keyword, reviewer, and reviewer performance databases; guidance on quality issues; conference review; and other matters pertaining to the technical aspects of our conferences. For questions or more information about the SCTP, contact Kumar

Antonio Bicchi of the University of Pisa has been appointed Editor-in-Chief of the RAS Conference Editorial Board CEB. The CEB is in charge of providing quality reviews and acceptance/rejection suggestions for papers submitted to the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). A goal of CEB will be to provide consistency over the years for what concerns the minimum number of reviews, their constructive nature, their confidentiality and fairness. For questions or more information about the CEB, contact Bicchi.

7. IEEE T-Haptics makes its debut

A limited number of IROS 2008 participants had the opportunity to obtain a free sample of Volume 1, No. 1 of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics, a new publication sponsored by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, IEEE Computer Society, and IEEE Consumer Electronics Society. Editor-in-Chief is Ed Colgate of Northwestern University. The issue is already up on IEEE Xplore for those who visit the RAS publications display too late to enjoy the smell of fresh ink and paper and the tactile experience of leafing through a brand new journal. T-Haptics is also available on IEEE Xplore at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.

8. RAS 2008 Fellowship Awarded to Cindy Bethel

Cindy Bethel, a graduate student at the University of South Florida, has been selected as the recipient of a fellowship awarded by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. Ms. Bethel's work is in the area of Human Robot Interaction and her advisor is Dr. Robin Murphy. The fellowship, in the amount of $12,500 will support Ms. Bethel for the 2008 Fall semester.

Allison Okamura and Nancy Amato, cochairs of the Fellowship Evaluation Committee, reported that 24 men and women were nominated for the fellowship and that six had such outstanding applications that the committee chose to identify them as Honorable Mentions. These students, with the names of their advisors in parentheses, are:

  • Nora Ayanian, University of Pennsylvania (Vijay Kumar)
  • Karla Conn, Vanderbilt University (Nilanjan Sarkar)
  • Yaozhang Pan, National University of Singapore (Louis Phee)
  • Dinesh Rabindran, The University of Texas at Austin (Delbert Tessar)
  • Angela Schollig, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich (Raffaello D'Andrea)
  • Sarah Webster, Johns Hopkins University (Louis Whitcomb)

The recipient and the Honorable Mentions will be recognized at ICRA 2009 in Kobe, Japan.

9. Time flies when deadlines approach!

The following sponsored, cosponsored, and technically cosponsored conferences andpublications have iminent deadlines. See the IEEE-RAS Web Calendar for more conference information.

  • ROBOCOMM 2009: Second International Conference on Robot Communication and Coordination, Odense, Denmark Submissions due: November 15, 2008.
  • Robotics and Automation Magazine: Special issue on Cognitive Robotics. Guest editors: William Harwin, Jeffrey Krichmar, Kazuhiko Kawamura, Hiroaki Wagatsuma, William Browne. Submissions due December 01, 2008
  • Transactions on Automotive Science and Engineering: Special issue on Advances in Automation Science and Engineering for Automotive Manufacturing. Guest editors: Mr. Jingshan Li, Kai Furmans, Masaru Nakano, Alain Patchong,Paper submission deadline: January 01, 2009
  • Jun 01, 2009 - Jun 03, 2009. RoMoCo 2009: 7th Workshop on Robot Motion and Control. Czerniejewo, Poland Submissions due January 15, 2009.
  • Jun 22, 2009 - Jun 25, 2009. ICIA 2009: International Conference on Information and Automation. Zhuhai, Macao, China. Submissions due January 15, 2009
  • Jun 28, 2009 - Jul 01, 2009: RSS 2009: Robotics: Science and Systems. Seattle WA, United States. Submissions due January 15, 2009.
  • Jul 14, 2009 - Jul 17, 2009. AIM'09: IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics. Singapore Submissions due January 15, 2009

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