Minimalism in Robot Manipulation

A Workshop held in conjunction with the
IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
April 27 1996 (attended by 35 researchers)

By ``minimalism'' we mean the pursuit of the least complex solution to a given class of tasks, by, e.g., using the minimal number of actuators or control variables (dof), or the simplest set of sensors. Rather than getting embroiled in arguments about what constitutes a minimal system, we will consider a variety of systems that have this flavor and identify new areas for future research.

Stressing minimalism in design is one possible answer to the widely acknowledged difficulties in connecting robotics research and industrial practice. Complexity reduction is especially important in terms of hardware components, as they account for most of the cost, weight, and failures of robots. On the other hand, it often turns out that sophisticated design, analysis, programming, and control are required to perform difficult tasks by means of simple devices. Thus new algorithms are needed to assist engineers in setting up simple systems for a given application. This is certainly true in industry, but is also relevant for non-structured environments such as space where reliability is vital.

The goal of this workshop is to emphasize the presence of a common thread in recent work in robotics. We will focus on robot manipulation and use ``minimalism'' to suggest the general goal of reducing hardware complexity to the minimum that guarantees success. Our goal is to build new bridges between industry and academy by acknowledging that simpler and more practical solutions need good theory.



From left: Shankar Sastry, Vince Hayward, Jean-Paul Laumond, Lydia Kavraki, Yoshi Nokamura(occluded!), Swee Mok, Shigeo Hirose, Matt Mason, Karl Bohringer, Bruce Donald, Antonio Bicchi,Ken Goldberg, Mike Erdmann, Greg Chirikjian, Richard Wallace, John Canny,and Greg Walsh.

(Special thanks to Howard Moraff and Peter Luh)

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