[robotics-worldwide] [meetings] IEEE RAS-SIGHT Humanitarian Automation and Technology Challenge at ICRA (May 31-June 01, 2014)

Raj Madhavan madhavan.ieeeras at gmail.com
Tue May 27 19:28:54 PDT 2014

Robotics & Automation (R&A) Technologies have the potential to transform 
and improve the lives of several people around the globe by addressing 
world's toughest challenges. Just to mention a few: robots can perform 
humanitarian tasks, like carrying food/medication to remote zones; 
robotic prostheses can give back motor capabilities to injured people; 
aerial robots can monitor potential regions for natural disasters and in 
anti-animal poaching efforts, and so on. From these considerations, the 
IEEE Robotics & Automation Society -- Special Interest Group on 
Humanitarian Technology (RAS--SIGHT) is inviting the academic and 
non-academic community to propose viable solutions in R&A to address 
relevant world problems through the Humanitarian Robotics and Automation 
Technology Challenge (HRATC). HRATC is an unprecedented opportunity to 
enable and engage IEEE members from around the world to collaborate 
using their skills and education to benefit humanity. The problems 
(challenges) are framed with the environmental, cultural, structural, 
political, socio-economic and resource constraints so that solutions can 
be developed, deployed, and sustained.

The first HRATC edition occurs this year at ICRA 2014, Hong Kong (and 
Coimbra, Portugal, remotely), and focuses on promoting the development 
of new strategies for autonomous landmine detection using a mobile 
(ground) robot. According to the UN Mine Action Service, landmines kill 
15,000-20,000 people every year (mostly children) and maim countless 
more across 78 countries. Demining efforts cost $300-1000 per mine, and, 
for every 5000 mines cleared, one person is killed and two are injured. 
Thus, clearing post-combat regions of landmines has proven to be a 
difficult, risky, dangerous and expensive task with enormous social 
implications for civilians. HRATC'14 has been ongoing three stages since 
the beginning of 2014: simulation stage, testing stage, and challenge 
stage. For the simulation stage, a software simulation framework that 
runs on Linux-based Operating System and uses ROS for communicating with 
both Gazebo simulator and real robot was developed. Using this 
framework, the teams were classified according to the performance of 
their strategy in a simulation scenario. The scoring metric was computed 
using several performance measures that include number of detected 
mines, number of exploded unknown mines, covered area, and coverage 
time. The best-ranked teams were then allowed to advance to the testing 
phase. In the testing phase, the teams ran their detection and 
classification strategies on a Clearpath Husky A200 robot in an outdoor 
arena covered by low grass, with few trees, ditches and surrogate mines. 
This robot was equipped with several sensors that include GigE cameras, 
SICK laser range finder, and three-coil pulse induction metal detector. 
Each team had three trials to evaluate and adjust their strategy. After 
the third trial, the teams will participate in the Finals at ICRA (on 
the same robot in Portugal) and evaluated according to the scoring 
metric before being declared as the grand winner. The three best-ranked 
teams received a cash prize ($1000, $500, $250, respectively) together 
with a certificate and a plaque. More details on HRATC'14 is available 
from http://www.isr.uc.pt/HRATC2014/.
In the next HRATC edition that will take place at ICRA 2015 in Seattle, 
we will continue to refine the development of new strategies for 
autonomous landmine detection. Besides, RAS-SIGHT is currently 
investigating new challenges for the robotics and automation community. 
Additional information regarding challenges, deadline, and subscription 
for the next edition will be available from 

RAS--SIGHT is the first and only IEEE Society to have a SIGHT! The 
mission of RAS-SIGHT is the application of robotics and automation 
technologies for promoting humanitarian causes around the globe, and to 
leverage existing and emerging technologies for the benefit of humanity 
and towards increasing the quality of life in underserved, 
underdeveloped areas in collaboration with existing global communities 
and organizations. IEEE RAS-SIGHT was approved by the Society's 
Administrative Committee at the International Conference on Robotics and 
Automation in St. Paul in May 2012. In September 2012, the IEEE 
Humanitarian Ad Hoc Committee (HAHC) approved the formation of RAS-SIGHT.

for venue information.
We look forward to seeing you at ICRA'14!

On behalf of the HRATC'14 Organizers and Organizing Committee,
Raj Madhavan

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