We're at ICRA 2013: The World's Largest Robot Research Conference!

We're in Karlsruhe, Germany to check out all the latest robotics research

2 min read
We're at ICRA 2013: The World's Largest Robot Research Conference!

The 2013 IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) is taking place this week in Karlsruhe, Germany. We’ve been in Europe for a week or so checking out robotics labs (more on that when we get back), but starting today, roboticists from all over the world have begun presenting their research in hundreds of sessions and interactive demonstrations.

Our schedule is absolutely packed; here’s an example of what we’re looking at for just one day:

IEEE ICRA robotics conference 2013

Yes, it’s not physically possible for us to be everywhere at once, but we’re going to die trying! And before death happens, we’ll make sure and bring you all of the very best stuff, so keep checking back all week.

Last night was the official ICRA opening event, featuring a surprise quadrotor performance from Roland Siegwart’s team at ETH Zurich and some specially outfitted AscTec Hummingbirds from Ascending Technologies. Look at these smiling roboticists and their shiny drones:

ETH Zurich and AscTec Hummingbirds

ETH Zurich and AscTec Hummingbirds

I may have gotten a little bit carried away taking pictures of these things:

ETH Zurich and AscTec Hummingbirds

ETH Zurich and AscTec Hummingbirds

And then there were fireworks!

ICRA 2013

ICRA 2013


Now, we’re off to check out some robots. Swing by later today for our first ICRA posts.

UPDATE: Here's how to  watch the webcast of the plenary talks, which will be streamed live from the ICRA venue: http://techtalks.tv/events/300/live/

This URL will be updated periodically to show the next keynote and its webcast time. All times are in CET. Here's the schedule:

Robert Wood: RoboBees: Progress in Insect-Scale Robotics
Tuesday May 7, 2013, 10:30-11:25

Alexander Waibel: Multi- and Cross-Lingual Robotic Assistants
Tuesday May 7, 2013, 16:00-16:55

Yasuo Kuniyoshi: From Embodied Intelligence to Fetal Developmenta Quest for the Fundamentals of Human-Oid Intelligence
Wednesday May 8, 2013, 10:30-11:25

Rodney Brooks: Rethinking Industrial Robots
Wednesday May 8, 2013, 16:00-16:55

Aude Billard: Teaching Robots to Cook, Relax, and Play Catch
Thursday May 9, 2013, 10:30-11:25

Michael Black: The Mathematics of Body Shape
Thursday May 9, 2013, 16:00-16:55

[ ICRA 2013 ]

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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