After a few years apart, IEEE #ICRA2022 has brought the robotics community together again


Welcome reception. Credits: Wise Owl Multimedia

The 39th IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) took place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia (USA) and online from May 23-27. CIFAR 2022 brought together the world’s top researchers and companies to share ideas and advances in the fields of robotics and automation.

Nearly 8,000 participants from academia and industry, including 4,700 in person, from a total of 97 countries joined the largest conference in robotics. Indeed, these figures reflect the evolution of the field over the last 34 years, the last ICRA in Philadelphia (1988) having welcomed only about 300 participants and a few exhibitors.

“We were thrilled to see the robotics community respond so positively to CIFAR’s first in-person conference since the pandemic began,” commented CIFAR 2022 General Co-Chair George J. Pappas (University of Pennsylvania ). “In addition to breaking many records, such as in-person attendance and number of countries represented, there was an incredible amount of energy and interaction between attendees, exhibitors, competitors and other aspects of the technical program By all accounts, CIFAR 2022 was a great success.

ICRA 2022 not only impacted the robotics community worldwide, but also locally in the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania. As CIFAR 2022 Overall Co-Chair Vijay Kumar (University of Pennsylvania) said, “CIFAR 2022 showcased the Philadelphia region’s robotics research and development activities in academia and industry. , and exposed high school and college students to exciting STEM opportunities and cutting-edge research in robotics.”

The main theme of ICRA 2022 was “the future of work”, with dedicated discussion sessions such as the forum on the future of work, which included panelists Jeff Burnstein (A3), Erik Brynjolfssonn (Stanford), Moshe Vardi (Rice University), Michael Lotito (Littler), Bernd Liepert (EuRobotics), Cecilia Laschi (NUS) and Ioana Marinescu (University of Pennsylvania). The main take-home message from the session, chaired by Henrik Christensen (University of California, San Diego), was that employment and robot sales are correlated. “When companies hire people, they also invest in new technologies. An important aspect is how we train the workforce and how we re-train to continue to have access to a competitive workforce,” summed up Henrik Christensen. “The panel agreed that it was necessary to have a big picture view of how we deliver training, invest in technology and provide appropriate policies to continue to grow the economy,” he said. he concluded. Five other Forum sessions were held, covering the topics of industry, US national robotics programs, investors/venture capitalists, start-ups and autonomous driving.

Participants in one of the sessions. Credits: Wise Owl Multimedia

Plenary sessions and keynote addresses formed an important part of the conference, with 12 top researchers from the robotics community invited to share their thoughts on topics such as robots, ethics and society (Ayanna Howard , Ohio State University, USA); Human-machine partnerships and the work of the future (Julie Shah, MIT, USA); or the Aporia of Embodied Intelligence (Antonio Bicchi, University of Pisa, Italy), among others. Numerous research contributions were also presented at ICRA 2022 by the robotics community in the 1,500 technical presentations and 56 workshop and tutorial sessions, especially by students, who made up 46% of all attendees. A total of 13 awards were presented to researchers to honor their outstanding contributions in areas such as computer vision and pattern recognition, robot grasping, collaborative transportation, aerial and legged robot underground exploration , monocopters, human-robot interaction for surgery, manipulation, track. leg and wheel-leg ground robotics, biomimetic touch sensors, visual odometry and trajectory optimization.

Researchers and companies were able to show off their robots in action in the 10 competitions held, including robots understanding where they are and moving or flying around obstacles, battling robots, setting dinner tables and even examining the world. ethics of robots performing tasks for humans. A wide range of international teams participated in challenges such as the ’10th F1TENTH Grand Prix’ (the winning spot went to students from the University of Pennsylvania), where competitors had to build a self-driving race car at the 1:10 scale and write software to lead the race. -head with the rest of the cars, minimizing lap time without crashing. Other competitions like the “FIRST LEGO League Challenge” featured younger students, where local teams of students in grades 4-8 had to design, build and program a LEGO robot to complete autonomous missions. “Competitions are a great way to validate research. Robotics research results often show great progress, but it’s hard to compare different methods unless they’re literally on the same playing field,” said Mark Yim, Chair of CIFAR 2022 Competitions. (University of Pennsylvania). “There are also elements of awareness. Competitions provide an exciting mechanism to show students and the general public what robotics is all about,” added Mark.

Competitors in the ’10th F1TENTH Grand Prix’ competition. Credits: Daniel Carrillo-Zapata

On the industry side of the conference, a robot showroom has been prepared with nearly 100 exhibitors offering robot presentations, technical meetings and demonstrations from companies such as Dyson, Motional, Built Robotics, Exyn , Ghost Robotics, NVIDIA, Technology Innovation Institute, Boston Dynamics. , Pal-Robotics, KUKA Robotics, Amazon Science, Toyota Research Institute or Tesla, among others. As Andra Keay (Silicon Valley Robotics, CIFAR 2022 Accessibility Chair), who also chaired the Startup Forum, said, “It was incredibly exciting to see such industry participation in the 2022. Companies were able to present their technologies, recruit talented candidates, network with their peers and discover the latest advances in robotics. The startups were also able to present themselves to potential investors and customers. The Tech Huddles were a great addition to the program as they gave students and faculty more opportunities to network with industry. »

Overview of the exhibitors’ robots. Credits: Wise Owl Multimedia

As not everyone could attend ICRA 2022 in person, the organizing committee, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and OhmniLabs have teamed up to offer access to OhmiLab’s telepresence robots that were on site. . Three OhmniBots were in the main exhibit hall (along with all the other robots) from opening to closing Tuesday through Thursday, with time slots aligned with poster sessions, networking breaks and showtimes. opening of the exhibition hall.

CIFAR 2022 continued to explore innovative ways to generate impact in robotics and automation through its partnership with the RAD Lab and several Philadelphia-based art galleries to provide a central space for art in his program. Building on CIFAR’s previous robotic art programs, this year’s stream explored aesthetic and creative influences on robot movement through interactive, expressive and meditative robotic art installations. When RAD Lab Artist-in-Residence Kate Ladenheim was interviewed by David Garzón Ramos (IRIDIA) – one of four winners of the 2022 ICRA Science Communication Award – about the intersection of robotics and art , she replied, “Both roboticists and artists engage in very intensive creative processes in order to bring their work to life. If a roboticist is trying to do something with a high level of intellectual and conceptual rigor, with a output that isn’t necessarily commercial in nature but is intended to enrich the lives of the people around it, so I think that crosses the realm of a project to an art project.

This year’s edition of CIFAR was a record-breaking gathering of top roboticists and stakeholders from academia and industry, having a huge impact on the local and international community. Preparations are already in place for the 40th edition of the conference. CIFAR 2023 will take place at ExCeL London from May 29 to June 2, 2023. Kaspar Althoefer (Queen Mary University of London), General Chair of CIFAR 2023, said: “We look forward to building on the wonderful success of ICRA 2022 in Philadelphia. with the CIFAR 2023 conference. The conference theme is “Embracing the Future. Making Robots for Humans”, and we are planning a wide range of workshops, sessions, networking events and visits to fit into this theme. We look forward to welcoming everyone to London next year!

ICRA 2023 will take place in London. Credits: Wise Owl Multimedia

We would like to thank the partners of CIFAR 2022, who also supported us in record numbers this year, as well as all the participants, members of the organization and volunteers. Thank you for coming together again in person and online after a few years apart to imagine a new future where humans and robots work together!

tags: c-Events


The IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) is an annual academic conference covering advances in robotics.


Daniel Carrillo-Zapata completed his PhD in swarm robotics at the Bristol Robotics Lab in 2020. He now encourages the culture of “scientific hustle” to engage two-way conversations between researchers and society.

Daniel Carrillo-Zapata completed his PhD in swarm robotics at the Bristol Robotics Lab in 2020. He now encourages the culture of “scientific hustle” to engage two-way conversations between researchers and society.

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