Special Issue on the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE2020)

The 16th annual IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE 2020) was held on August 20-21, 2020, virtually, jointly organized by HKU (The University of Hong Kong) and HKUST (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology). IEEE CASE is the flagship automation conference of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and constitutes the primary forum for crossindustry and multidisciplinary research in automation. Its goal is to provide a broad coverage and dissemination of foundational research in automation among researchers, academics, and practitioners. It was the first time the CASE conference was held online (through Zoom meetings), due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme of the conference was Automation Analytics. The technical program included 2 keynote speeches, 5 workshops and over 250 presentations split into several parallel sessions. This special issue is by invitation only.

Congratulations to the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society members recently elevated to Senior Member status by the IEEE Admission and Advancement Senior Member Review Panel.

Small-Scale Robotics inside the Human Body

Robots can aid the physician in several aspects: assisting diagnostic and surgery, performing a biopsy,Robots can aid the physician in several aspects: assisting diagnostic and surgery, performing a biopsy,dispensing medication, visualizing enclosed spaces inside the body, etc. More recently, there has been a rising interest in the miniaturization of these robots for less and less invasive or even non-invasive surgery. These miniaturized medical robots will allow making it possible to break down certain barriers related to the size and accessibility of some areas of the human body (vessels, arteries, deep intrapulmonary pathways, etc.). Such systems may provide many advantages, such as limited invasiveness, reduced trauma, or carrying outoperations beyond the limits of the human precision or sensing abilities.

Join the RAS Technical Committee on Soft Robotics in upcoming debates and participate with different controversial topics in Soft Robotics, such as future and potential impact, real-world deployment, morphological computation vs. traditional control methods, etc., are frequent subject of debates. General community can benefit from making these debates more formal and publicly available. Debates are 80 minutes long with 4-6 participants and a moderator from recognized experts in the field.

Upcoming Event: 

"Bioinspired vs. Biohybrid Design"

3rd debate

virtual education


IEEE RAS Summer School on Reproducible Research, Performance Evaluation and Benchmarking in Robotics 2021- Virtual Preparation Event

Date: 1-5 February 2021

Location: Free virtual event

Congratulations to all International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2020) award recipients! Due to the virtual nature of the event, we are saddened that these individuals could not be recognized in person.

IROS Toshio Fukuda Young Professional Award

“For contributions to the advancement of MRI guided robotic systems”

IROS Best Paper Award 

SwingBot: Learning Physical Features from In-Hand Tactile Exploration for Dynamic Swing-Up Manipulation
Chen Wang, Shaoxiong Wang, Branden Romero, Filipe Fernandes Veiga and Edward Adelson

IROS Best Student Paper Award 

Computational Design of Balanced Open Link Planar Mechanisms with Counterweights from User Sketches
Takuto Takahashi, Hiroshi G. Okuno, Shigeki Sugano, Stelian Coros and Bernhard Thomaszewski

Congratulations to all award recipients of IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE 2020)! Due to the virtual nature of the event, we are saddened that these individuals could not be recognized in person.

IEEE CASE Best Conference Paper Award

Long-Short Term Spatiotemporal Tensor Prediction for Passenger Flow Profile
Ziyue Li, Hao Yan, Chen Zhang, and Fugee Tsung

IEEE CASE Best Application Paper Award

A system for human-in-the-loop simulation of industrial collaborative robot applications
Maximilian Metzner, Daniel Utsch, Walter Matthias, Christian Hofstetter, Christina Ramer, Andreas Blank, and Jörg Franke

IEEE CASE Best Student Paper Award: TWO Recipients this Year!

Large-Workspace and High-Resolution Magnetic Microrobot Navigation Using Global-Local Path Planning and Eye-in-Hand Visual Servoing
Lidong Yang and Li Zhang

Simulating Polyculture Farming to Learn Automation Policies for Plant Diversity and Precision Irrigation
Yahav Avigal, Jensen Gao, William Wong, Kevin Li, Grady Pierroz, Fang Shuo Deng, Mark Theis, Mark Presten and Ken Goldberg

Congratulations to all award recipients of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2020)! Due to the virtual nature of the event, we are saddened that these individuals could not be recognized in person. A complete RAS and ICRA Award brochure is available. It also contains IEEE and RAS Award recipients, plus all ICRA Best Paper Award Finalists.

Congratulations to the six RAS members elected by the membership to serve a three-year term beginning 1 January 2021. 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. 


IEEE/IFR Innovation & Entrepreneurship Award for Outstanding Achievements in Commercializing Innovative Robot and Automation Technology  

IEEE/IFR Joint Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation (IERA)  June 2021 

Deadline for applications: 28 February 2021  

In the field of human-robot interaction, robot autonomy and intuitiveness are usually conflictual design requirements. The amount of physical and cognitive effort requested to the user in executing a task is determined by the robot autonomy level. To enable the operator to physically interact with robots in an intuitive and unobtrusive way, the robot may need to adapt its autonomy level seamlessly while performing a complex task.

Nowadays, research on shared autonomy systems is playing a relevant role in a wide spectrum of robotic applications ranging from surgical to industrial robotics. Recently, the availability of datasets and the advancement of machine learning techniques have enabled enhanced flexibility of shared autonomy systems that are now capable of providing contextual or personalized assistance and seamless adaption of the autonomy level. However, this desirable trend raises new challenges for safety and stability certification of shared autonomy robotic systems, thus requiring new advanced control methods to implement the continuously evolving division of roles.

The 2020 Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Robotics & Automation (IERA) goes to Photoneo’s high resolution MotionCam-3D. This 3D scanner captures quick moving objects and delivers the sharpest eyes in the world for industrial robots.

“The jury is pleased to announce the selection of Photoneo’s Motion Cam-3D as the winner of the 16th IERA Award,” says Jury Chair Robert Ambrose from IEEE-RAS. “The award celebrates the combination of innovative concepts with entrepreneurial efforts to bring those ideas to market. This year’s winner is a novel 3D imaging system merging the benefits of both stereo vision with structured light approaches to yield a fast and accurate perception system with applications in society and industry.”

Eyes for robots that spot submillimeters

"MotionCam-3D gives eyes to robots with the highest resolution and accuracy in the world” said Jan Zizka, CEO of Bratislava-based maker Photoneo. "Our camera is able to inspect objects moving as fast as 140 kilometres per hour. Its qualities are useful in various fields: e.g. in e commerce and logistics, for object sorting and autonomous delivery systems. The camera also helps in food processing and waste sorting as well as harvesting in agriculture. Thanks to accurate machine vision, robots can also analyse objects with high resolution images, which is important in quality control”.


Recent events, such as the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, have shown the extreme importance of industrial  processes that are fully or partially automated, thus allowing the production and the work in (smart) factories during  events that can affect the production. In the smart factory, robots - which are becoming more and more advanced  and adaptive to the surrounding environment and to external stimuli and which have improved their mobility and  their learning capacity - can be employed in more difficult and demanding tasks such as quality control and process  automation. The deployment of Automation and Robotics and of I4.0 key technologies in smart disassembly,  recycling and enhancing waste materials obtained from production processes is radically changing the way to  conceive and manufacture products and at the same time it is enhancing workers’ safety and health conditions. 


Don't delay! Nominations are due 15 January 2021 for the 2022 IEEE Technical Field Award in Robotics and Automation (TFA). This is the most prestigious award presented by IEEE in the field of robotics and automation, and includes a medal and a $10,000 usd honorarium. IEEE TFAs are awarded for contributions or leadership in a specific field of interest of the IEEE and are among the highest awards presented on behalf of the IEEE Board of Directors.


TFA Medal Image 5 April.fw

Visit for a description of the award criteria and instructions on submitting a nomination.

The 2021 IEEE Technical Field Award in Robotics and Automation will be presented to Tomas Lozano-Perez and Jean-Claude Latombe,
"For foundational contributions to robot motion planning and visionary leadership of the field." 

The presentation will take place at the Awards Ceremony held during during the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in Prague, Czech Republic on 27 September-1 October 2021.

ram issue cover dec 2020

We are pleased to offer you the December 2020 issue of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine!

Act NOW! The deadline to cast your vote as an RAS Member is Tuesday, 15 December!

election vote button

RAS members are voting to elect new RAS Administrative Committee members to serve 3-year terms beginning 1 January 2021. All RAS members (Graduate Student Members and above) have received voting instructions, the biographies, and statements of the candidates by email. RAS membership must be active as of 15 November 2020 to be eligible to vote. Members who do not have valid emails registered with the IEEE or have opted not to receive e-mail from IEEE, have received their election materials by post.

Use to access the ballot and cast your vote now. If you do not remember your password, you may retrieve it on the voter login page. Voting must be completed no later than 15 December 2020. Any returns received after this date will not be counted. The online voting site will close at 4:00 pm Eastern Time.

Candidate bios and position statements are here:

If you have any questions about the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society voting process, please contact or +1 732-562-3904.

Heartfelt congratulations to Tomas Lozano-Perez and Jean-Claude Latombe, selected recipients of the prestigious 2021 IEEE Robotics and Automation Technical Field Award for "For foundational contributions to robot motion planning and visionary leadership of the field." They will receive this award during the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in Prague, Czech Republic on 27 September-1 October 2021.

The groundbreaking contributions of Tomas Lozano-Perez and Jean-Claude Latombe to tackling the challenge of robot motion planning has provided robots with the ability to avoid colliding with obstacles while they navigate real-world environments. Lozano-Perez introduced the configuration space formalization, which unified geometry, mechanics, and computation in a single general framework to address motion planning for robots with any number of degrees of freedom and shape. Lozano-Perez’s work provided the foundation for motion planning and inspired Latombe’s classic textbook Robot Motion Planning (Springer, 1991). Latombe co-developed the randomized potential field (RFP) planner with Jerôme Barraquand to handle robots with higher degrees of freedom. RFP was the precursor to his probabilistic roadmap planner (PRM) algorithm, co-developed with Lydia Kavraki, an example of sample-based motion planning. Latombe’s work on PRM is considered to have sparked a new era in motion planning.

IEEE Senior Member is a high grade of IEEE membership. Any IEEE member can apply for the Senior Member grade. You MUST be an IEEE Senior Member to be nominated for the highest grade of IEEE membership, IEEE Fellow.

Requirements to become an IEEE Senior Member are not very high. Submit a Senior Member application form today! Applications are reviewed and approved on a rolling basis several times per year.

To be eligible for application or nomination, candidates must:

  • Be engineers, scientists, educators, technical executives, or originators in IEEE-designated fields
  • Have experience reflecting professional maturity
  • Have been in professional practice for at least ten years (with some credit for certain degrees)
  • Show significant performance over a period of at least five of their years in professional practice

For additional details on applying for Senior Member or to review the added benefits, please refer to the IEEE Senior Member webpage.



2021 RAS Fellows Evaluated by RAS

Gianluca Antonelli – University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Italy
“For contributions to modeling and control of underwater robots”
Timothy Barfoot – University of Toronto, Canada
“For contributions to mobile robot navigation”
Shuxiang Guo – Kagawa University, Japan
“For contributions to medical robots for minimally invasive surgery and biomimetic underwater robots”
Ayanna Howard – Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
“For contributions to human-robot interaction systems”
Hadas Kress-gazit – Cornell University, USA
“For contributions to automated control synthesis and formal methods for robotics”
Jose Neira – Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain
“For contributions to simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) for robot navigation”
Claude Samson – INRIA, France
“For contributions to mobile and underactuated mechanical systems control”
Jacquelien Scherpen – University of Groningen, The Netherlands
“For contributions to nonlinear model reduction and passivity-based control”
Danwei Wang – Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
“For contributions to modelling, analysis, and control for constrained robots”
Junzhi Yu – Peking University, China
“For contributions to bio-inspired swimming robots”

Ayanna Howard

Ayanna Howard is currently serving as Editor in Chief of the RAS ICRA Conference Editorial Board, Member of RAS Conference Activities Board, and member of the RAS Women in Engineering Committee. Howard is Professor and Chair of the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, and Founder & CTO at Zyrobotics.

odest jenkins


Odest Chadwicke Jenkins is currently serving as a Co-Chair of RAS CARES Committee and an associate director of the Michigan Robotics Institute at the University of Michigan. Jenkins' research interests include Mobile manipulation, computer vision, interactive robot systems, and human-robot interaction.


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