Overview

Welcome to ACC Workshop

Fielding Legged Robotics off the Beaten Path

Monday, May 24, 2021

The ACC workshop registration is open until May 21st. You are welcome to register through this website https://acc2021.a2c2.org/registration. You can register the workshop only if you don’t plan to attend the main conference.

Objectives

The primary purpose of this workshop is to discuss the challenges and requirements in control, dynamics, optimization, and system design for fielding legged robotics in real-world scenarios. These types of robotic platforms have an enormous potential for swaths of applications, particularly where mobility challenges limit the application of more traditional ground robots. We will use this workshop to present discussion pieces and foster conversation on the true challenges limiting the fielding of legged robots. The workshop will feature invited pioneers in the legged robotics community to discuss what they see as technical challenges limiting legged technology. We will focus on the following topics with an eye on their application to legged robots:

  • Controller: What kind of control is best suited for fielded applications? Periodic gaits are robust and efficient, but are they flexible enough to meet the challenging settings of applied legged robots? Foothold driven dynamic planning and balance requires significant computation, while also being generally less efficient than other more dynamic approaches.
  • Planning: What kind of planning is required for locomotion? Should the balance state entirely drive the contact location, or should it only modify what is provided by a high level planner?
  • Actuation: Hydraulic or electric? High gear reduction or direct drive? Low or high voltage? These are all important questions when designing legged robots, as both the power output and power consumption drive the total performance of the robot.
  • Embodied Intelligence: What level of autonomy is actually needed for these robots to be useful enough for real world application? Is 1:1 sufficient, or must the operator be able to direct a team? What behaviors and elements are critical to automate, and what can be left to a remote operator?
  • Simulation: What role can simulation play when designing both hardware and controllers for legged robots? What are the key elements required in designing a simulator to make it accurately capture the real world? How can we improve simulation to incorporate more machine learning techniques to increase the robustness and reactivity of the final product?
  • Scaling: As robots are scaled up in size, they often face significant challenges with power supplies and actuation. Are there technologies that aren’t being used that could break this paradigm? Are there different critical components as the scale of the platform goes from small to large?

Invited Speakers

Here is a list of confirmed invitees who agreed to present (and have a robot demo).

Intended audience

The intended audience is academic, industry, and government R&D personnel who are interested in learning about the development of legged robot hardware, software, and autonomy.  The research, technology, and hardware demos will be inspirational and provide motivation to students, scientists, engineers, component suppliers, and entrepreneurs to enter or expand into this very challenging field.  While the material of this workshop will be relevant and informative to even experts in the legged robotics community, the relatable subject matter will resonate within new or unfamiliar researchers as well.  Since the research and engineering that compose our robot and the others that will be presented is a result of integration of various technical disciplines, we expect attendees with a wide variety of interest from perception, planning and navigation, to control theory and machine to find this workshop interesting and informative.  This multidisciplinary nature is attractive to an audience of diverse technical fields, and with the inclusion of highly dynamic live robot demonstrations, we believe that this workshop will draw great interest among the attendees of ACC.

We plan to encourage attendance and participation through:

  • Personal invitations via e-mail, to university faculties and academic researchers.
  • International mailing lists such as the robotics worldwide and euRobotics digests. We expect that these invitations will reach larger research groups in associated universities and institutions.
  • Formal and informal social media, including Facebook, Twitter and blogs, to highlight the workshop and to disseminate the web page link.
  • (Optional) Distributing the workshop’s information through printed resources. The Workshop’s information will be formatted as a poster/flier, so that it can be distributed via the conference flyer table or even registration package, and attached to the aforementioned mailing list.

Expected attendance

We intend to bring our hardware and demo the capability of our legged robots from human scale to small robots.  Real hardware and demos are exciting and tend to draw a larger audience, so we are expecting about 50-100 people to attend our workshop at a minimum.  We have several well-established presenters as well as many up-and-coming researchers already committed to our workshop.  Our topics focus on legged locomotion but touch on unique mobility and intelligence enabling beyond state-of-the-art off-road locomotion in complex, dynamic terrains not currently explored by many autonomous ground robotic platforms.  Our discussion sessions are lined up with panel experts and will be driven by topics and questions posed from the audience. The organizers will prompt panel members to explore future direction of truly autonomous legged systems and what supporting technology is needed to realize off-road mobility in complex dynamic terrain.

Structure of the event

Our workshop is intended to be interactive and includes lively participation from the attendees. The tech talks, displays, and demo sessions are intended not to be a presentation of research papers but sharing of the lessons learned from research, design development, build, and testing of the complete system. Since our goal is to share our knowledge, we intend to ask attendees to not only ask questions but also share their experience in an informal way. We will have multiple microphones available for attendees to pose questions, and are also exploring the inclusion of a web-based Q&A board to allow the session moderators to pose questions as well. We will intermittently break the presentations up with robot demonstrations to allow discussion during this period, but will also encourage presenters to utilize their robots during their presentation as props.

Contingency Plans

In case the conference would be held virtually due to restrictions caused by the pandemic, we will execute the following contingency plans to ensure the success of the proposed workshop.

  • Virtual meeting platforms:
    • Unless the conference committee recommends a certain platform, the organizers would consider using commonly used, reliable virtual meeting platforms such as MS Teams, Zoom, and Skype for Business.
    • If permitted, we will set passwords for the workshop virtual meeting and share the passwords with attendees.
    • If permitted, we will also set up a backup conference line within the video meetings that can be accessed via phone. This will allow Speakers/Panelists to reconnect even without access to internet. This is also a default option with MS Teams, Zoom, and other virtual meeting platforms.
    • The organizers will communicate with speakers timely and coordinate the updated meeting schedule (e.g., different time zone restrictions) in the case of any meeting format change released from the ACC conference organization committee.
  • Presentations and Demos:
    • Before the presentation/demo:
      • We will encourage speakers to share with us their presentation files and their recorded presentation with the moderator a few days before the workshop.
      • The organizers will share email addresses and phone numbers with the speakers in case of emergent issues.
    • During the presentation/demo:
      • Only the speaker will be unmuted. All audiences will be muted.
      • In case the speaker drops from their presentation due to the internet connection issue, the moderator can resume the pre-recorded presentation video.
        • In case the speaker can reconnect through a conference call but cannot remotely present their talk slides, the moderator can navigate the presentation while the speakers give the presentation through a conference call.
        • In case the speaker cannot reconnect completely, the moderator will play the pre-recorded videos.
      • Audience can leave their comments and questions in the chat box of the virtual platform.
    • After the presentation/demo (Q&A):
      • Organizers will monitor the questions left by audience in the chat box and ask the speaker to answer them. The order of the announcement of the questions will be according to the order that these questions are left.
      • Audience can also request to be unmuted and ask their questions by directly speaking to the presenter. For example, the request can be made by using the “Raise Hand” function if Zoom is used as the virtual platform.
  • Activity Moderation: The three organizers will closely collaborate to coordinate and moderate the workshop activities, including presentations, demos, and panel discussions.
    • All organizers will be assigned as “Hosts” for the virtual meetings in case one of us would have internet connection issues and accidentally end the meetings for all.
    • The organizers will set up several separate communication channels for internal discussion and communication throughout the workshop, such as cell phone messages and several different virtual meetings.
    • During each activity, Organizer 1 will take charge of introducing speakers/demo presenters/panel speakers. During panel discussions, the organizer will invite panelists to speak and respond to panel questions one by one. Organizer 2 will moderate the chat room to record questions and comments from audience. Organizer 3 will monitor the internet connection issues.
  • Plan Sharing: The organizers will openly share this plan and communicate with our speakers and attendees to ensure that everyone knows what to do in case of unexpected incidents.

Endorsement

Endorsement from the ASME DSCD Technical Committee on Mechatronics and the IEEE CSS Technical Committee on Manufacturing Automation and Robotic Control have been received for this proposed workshop.

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