Ken Goldberg, Vice President of Technical Activities
Professor, IEOR and EECS, UC Berkeley, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Column for the June 2006 issue of Robotics and Automation Magazine)
"The key is to make mistakes faster than the competition, so you
have more chances to learn." - John W. Holt, Jr.
I woke up on October 8, 2005 and rushed to the Internet to check the
progress of a group of experimental robot vehicles racing through the
Mojave desert. As creative ideas raced head to head, Mobile Robotics
was entering a new era. Research in Robotics and Automation is
thriving: the past year produced new books by MIT Press and Springer
STAR, new conferences such as RSS and CASE, new products such as the
retooled Lego Mindstorms, and the 132-mile DARPA Grand Challenge Robot
Race which was successfully completed by four teams. According to
Sebastian Thrun from the winning Stanford Racing Team, some of the
lessons learned were:
- Software can overcome limitations in hardware
- Integration of heterogeneous sensors is vital
- Pre-operation testing is essential
- Machine learning allows tuning before and during operation
In summary, make mistakes faster than your competitors! Although this
Grand Challenge was somewhat restricted to American teams, it had many
key contributors from overseas. The race defined a common goal and
allowed approaches and results to be compared head to head. It also
generated great interest from the public and future roboticists.
Although details can and should be debated, this was a positive step
forward for our field and is stimulating future research in associated
Speaking of future research, Technical Committees (TCs) are formed to
promote research in subfields of Robotics and Automation. The RAS
currently has 19 TCs as listed below. Each TC has up to 3 co-chairs,
one of whom, the Corresponding Co-Chair, is responsible for
maintaining the TC member mailing list and communicating regularly
One of our goals is to make TCs more like amplifiers than capacitors.
Rather than serving as repositories for research, TCs will actively
work to expand and stimulate research. This can be done in a variety
of ways: through workshops, special issues, and by maintaining an up
to date TC website. We are also pushing for an expanded role for TCs
in conferences: organizing sessions and reviewing workshop proposals.
Probably the best way to amplify research is to foster communication
with TC members about open problems, new technologies, new results,
and new opportunities for collaboration.
TC membership is free and open to anyone (it is not necessary to be a
member of IEEE). Please consider joining one or more TCs by visiting
the TC website. To join and be added to a TC mailing list, just send
email to the TC's corresponding co-chair.
I'm hoping that a number of new TCs will be created over the next two
years. Most of the existing TCs are organized around applications,
but TCs on methodology are also welcome. The website includes links
to a new Charter describing how to propose a new TC, duties of TC
chairs and TAB officers, a new TAB online database, and other new
developments. It also describes our Distinguished Lecturer program,
which will have a new emphasis on reaching the general public which
I'll describe in an upcoming report.
I feel very fortunate to join President Dick Volz and the other
officers serving you for the 2006-2007 term. Great thanks are due to
Roland Siegwart and Bruno Siciliano for their excellent leadership of
the Technical Activities Board during previous terms. I'd like to
welcome Frank van der Stappen and Katsu Yamane as new Associate VPs of
Technical Activities, and Tatsuo Arai, Alicia Casals, Satoshi
Tadokoro, and Sebastian Thrun as appointed TAB members whom I will
work closely with in addition to officers and the Technical Committee
Co-Chairs to advocate and expand research.
Speaking of competition and amplification, check out the TAB website
to see which of the TCs was voted Most Active at ICRA. I look forward
to working with you and to making many (hopefully constructive!)
mistakes along the way...
See for details: http://goldberg.berkeley.edu/ras-tab/