[robotics-worldwide] [Call for Participation] IEEE/NIST National Virtual Manufacturing Automation Competition

Raj Madhavan raj.madhavan at nist.gov
Fri Dec 5 10:36:29 PST 2008


IEEE/NIST Virtual Manufacturing Automation Competition:
Advancing Robotic Research through an Open Source High-Fidelity
Simulation Framework and Competition

December 11th, 2008
University of California, Merced
Merced, CA 95343.

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) represent an integral component of
today's manufacturing processes. They are widely used on factory
floors for intra-factory transport of goods between conveyors and
assembly sections, parts and frame movements, and truck-trailer
loading/unloading. Automating these systems to operate in
unstructured environments presents an exciting area of current
research in robotics and automation. Unfortunately, the traditional
entry barrier into this research area is quite high. Researchers need
an extensive physical environment, robotic hardware, and knowledge in
research areas ranging from mobility and mapping to behavior
generation and scheduling. An accepted approach to lowering this
entry barrier is through the use of simulation systems and open
source software. The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society has
recognized the importance of this area by forming a new robot
challenge competition that will take place annually at the
International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). In
addition, the National Institute of Standards and Technology will be
administering a National Virtual Manufacturing Automation Competition
(VMAC) that will provide an opportunity for well qualified teams to
try their algorithms on actual robotic platforms. It is our belief
that competitions are an effective means of stimulating interest and
participation among students by providing exciting technological
problems to tackle.

Under this effort, we are soliciting faculty members and their
interested students from universities and community colleges to be
introduced to this time-critical research area at a workshop to be
held at UC Merced. Student involvement is strongly encouraged This
competition is based on the successful VMAC competition (
http://vmac.hood.edu) held in April 2008 and the RoboCup Rescue
Virtual Competitions (http://www.robocup-us.org/). Since all code
used in these competitions is open source, participants are able to
learn from their competitors and self-sustain their research in their
areas of expertise. Researchers from multi-agent cooperation, robotic
mapping and localization, communications networks, and sensory
processing backgrounds are particularly encouraged to participate.
The participants will be provided with the necessary knowledge needed
to join the robotics and automation research community in the area of
manufacturing automation and will be provided with all relevant
software. The last of the full day tutorials to introduce and discuss 
the simulation
platforms and other associated details will be held at:
* University of California, Merced: December 11th 2008
Two other tutorials were given at the following venues:
* Carnegie Mellon University/University of Pittsburgh: October 23rd 2008
* Georgia Institute of Technology: December 4th 2008

For the December 11th tutorial, please RSVP to <robosim at nist.gov> by
December 8th with a  succinct statement of how you expect to benefit from your
participation. This year's National VMA Competition will be held at the NIST
campus in Gaithersburg MD, and the International Competition
will be held during ICRA '09 in Kobe Japan. For both events, virtual
participation is possible.

Using a metrics-driven competition model, advancements in the various
technologies comprising the AGV control system are quantified,
helping the community gauge as well as target progress. It is our
belief that these competitions will serve as a model for establishing
a university-community focused on a real-world practical problem.
This effort is administered under the IEEE Washington/Northern
Virginia Section Robotics & Automation Society Chapter. RAS Chapters
from across the United States are invited to be a sponsor of this
competition by spreading the word among their members and helping us
with the local organization of the regional tutorials.

Dr. Stephen Balakirsky
Dr. Raj Madhavan
Mr. Chris Scrapper
Intelligent Systems Division
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8230.
Email: robosim at nist.gov
Raj Madhavan, Ph.D.
Intelligent Systems Division
National Institute of Standards and Technology
100 Bureau Drive, Mail Stop 8230
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8230.

Tel: (301) 975-2865 Fax: (301) 990-9688
URL: http://aser.ornl.gov/madhavan/

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