On 26 May, 2015
At 2015 ICRA, Seattle, USA
Robotics & Automation (R&A) technologies have the potential to transform and positively impact the lives of several people around the globe by addressing some of the world’s toughest and unsolved challenges and elevating the quality of life for humanity. Many of the underlying theoretical frameworks of existing R&A technologies are at a sufficient level of maturity and are widely accepted by the academic community after having undergone the scientific rigor and peer reviews that accompany such works. Yet, several of these frameworks, when subjected to the demands of deployment in practical situations, reveal their brittleness and lack of robustness (e.g. Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster). A fundamental reason behind such failures is that there exists a chasm between technological innovators and humanitarian field workers: Innovators rarely know what technological tools humanitarian workers in-the-trenches need; and only humanitarian field workers know what innovations are truly sustainable. Developing sustainable tools, methodologies, and robotic hardware platforms with useful sensor suites, and identifying gaps and initiating a dialog between different stakeholders will help alleviating suffering and will increase the effectiveness and/or efficiency of humanitarian workers on the ground.
In this workshop, we propose to bring together researchers, practitioners, humanitarian relief workers, responders, analysts from the field and humanitarian aid agencies, and foundations from several countries to understand the current and future role R&A technologies play in alleviating suffering of humanity in times of need. The proposed workshop will allow for the discussion and identification of the use of R&A technologies applied to humanitarian efforts and gaps in dealing with natural calamities and man-made disasters. Emphasis will be placed on important factors that need to be taken into consideration such as environmental, cultural, structural, political and socio-economic and resource constraints while developing R&A solutions that can be developed, deployed, and sustained.
The workshop will, thus, consist of presentations of research, first-hand experiences and field knowledge, both as invited and regular talks addressing the monitoring (e.g. early warning preventative systems) and/or the support of post-disaster and emergency relief operations (e.g., search and rescue) of several humanitarian areas from different ends of the technological spectrum and end-users, including but not limited to:
• Avalanches, landslides, earthquakes, and volcano eruptions
• Floods and tsunamis
• Wind storms (hurricanes, tornadoes)
• Mining and mineral disasters
• Pollution monitoring and cleaning (e.g. oil spills, inland water monitoring)
• Chemical emergencies from industrial accidents
• Nuclear incidents and similar cleanup efforts of contaminated sites
• Structural collapse (e.g. bridge and dam failures)
• Fires (wild and urban)
• Demining (landmine detection