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

Raj Madhavan raj.madhavan at nist.gov
Thu Nov 13 13:19:05 PST 2008


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

(See CfP Flyer available from the competition website at: 

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. A full day tutorial will take place at each of the 
following three venues to introduce and discuss the simulation 
platforms and other associated details:
* Carnegie Mellon University/University of Pittsburgh: October 23rd 2008
* Georgia Institute of Technology:  December 4th 2008
* University of California, Merced: December 11th 2008

Please RSVP 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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