Many-Robot Systems: Crossing the Reality Gap

ICRA 2012 Workshop

Title: "Many-Robot Systems:  Crossing the Reality Gap"

Motivation and Objectives: 
  Advances in embedded processor and sensor technology in the last thirty years have accelerated interest in many robot systems and distributed sensor networks for applications such as exploration and mapping of unknown environments, large scale environmental monitoring and surveillance, and search and rescue.  The advances that have made individual robots more practical have enabled the research and development of teams of robots, where capabilities are expressed by the team rather than by a super-capable individual. This is especially relevant in complex tasks or missions where it is difficult to provide robots with specific instructions a priori due to incomplete knowledge of the environment or where mission criteria require capabilities that are varied in both quantity and difficulty, such as interplanetary exploration and search and rescue operations.
  Despite the many worldwide R&D efforts focused on many robot systems, there are few examples of successful full-scale deployments of these systems in real-world application environments.  The goal of this workshop is to bring together leading experts in many-robot systems from academia, government research labs, and industry to “cross the reality gap”.  The objectives are to identify and discuss solutions towards moving many-robot systems out of the research laboratories and into the real world.  
  This full day workshop will consist of a combination of invited keynote talks and panel discussions.  Invited keynote speakers include leading academic, government, and industry experts in the various areas of many-robot systems.  The workshop will conclude with a panel discussion on possible solutions to key technical challenges.


     Donald Sofge, Computer Scientist
     Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence
     Naval Research Laboratory

     Professor Volkan Isler
     Department of Computer Science
     University of Minnesota

     Professor Ani Hsieh
     Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (MEM)

     Dr. Frank Ehlers
     Bundeswehr Technical Centre for Ships and Naval Weapons
     Naval Technology and Research (WTD 71)

Presenters & Participants:
Guarav Sukhatme (USC) --- Invited Speaker
Ira Schwartz (NRL) --- Invited Speaker
Marc Steinberg (ONR) --- Invited Speaker/Panelist
Tucker Balch (Georgia Tech) --- Invited Speaker
Vijay Kumar (U. Penn) --- Invited Speaker
Pei Zhang (CMU) --- Invited Speaker
Andreas Terzis (JHU) -- Invited Speaker
Norihiro Hagita (ATR, Japan) --- Invited Speaker
Lynne Parker (Univ. Tenn. Knoxville) --- Invited Speaker
Alcherio Martinelli (EPFL, Switzerland) --- Invited Speaker
Mae Seto (DRDC/Dalhousie)  --- Panelist
Jason Stack (ONR) --- Panelist
Ani Hsieh (Drexel) --- Organizer
Don Sofge (NRL) --- Organizer
Volkan Isler (UMN) --- Organizer
Frank Ehlers (Bundeswehr, Germany) --- Organizer/Panelist

(All Speakers and Participants Confirmed Unless Otherwise Indicated)

List of Topics:
Architectures for many-robot systems 
Biology and nature-inspired solutions
Collective decision-making
Communication reliability 
Distributed multi-agent control
Field applications
Heterogeneous vs. homogeneous platforms
Human/robot interactions
Mobile sensor swarms
Physics of synchronization
Planning with physical (e.g. communication or mobility) constraints
Robot-network interface
Robustness and reliability in planning and control
Robustness to hardware/system failure 
Robust distributed navigation 
Situational awareness
Stability in unknown/uncertain environments

Primary and Secondary Audience:
  Researchers in the general robotics & automation communities interested in bridging the gap between theory and application for many-agent robotic systems in the areas of distributed perception, planning, and control.  Specifically, we seek to bring together researchers in academia, government, and industry.

Relation to the previous IROS or ICRA workshops/tutorials:
  This workshop is the natural continuation and evolution of the ICRA 2010 Network Science and Systems Issues in Multi-Robot Autonomy and other networked robotics workshops.  Different from previous workshops, this workshop will focus on the common challenges that many-robot systems face in real-world applications regardless of team size, sensing and actuation modalities, and control paradigm.  The goal is to bring researchers in various areas of many-robot systems to determine common perspectives on bridging the reality the gap.

Letter(s) of Support from related Technical Committee chairs
  We have received Letters of Support from the IEEE RAS Networked Robots TC and the IEEE RAS Marine Robotics TC.