Robotics: Science and Systems 2020 Workshop
Hannah Kerner, Amy Tabb, Jnaneshwar Das, Pratap Tokekar, and Masahiro Ono
Robots in the Wild: Challenges in Deploying Robust Autonomy for Robotic Exploration

Dreams Lab Projects Image Advances in robust autonomy have increased our ability to adopt robotic systems for exploration of unstructured and uncertain environments. Particularly, successful field tests have demonstrated the tremendous potential of deploying robots for exploration and data collection tasks in extreme environments such as planetary surfaces and ocean trenches. However, various challenges exist, originating from algorithmic limitations, as well as environmental modeling, sensing, mobility, and communication constraints. A relevant selection of robotic systems, methods, and sensing devices can overcome these challenges. The goal of this workshop is to bring together leading researchers from diverse domains to discuss the following questions.

  • What new insights or limitations arise when applying algorithms to real-world data as opposed to benchmark datasets or simulations?
  • How can we address the limitations of real-world environments—e.g., noisy or sparse data, non-i.i.d. sampling, etc.?
  • What challenges exist at the frontiers of robotic exploration of unstructured and extreme environments?
  • How can we tie together the categories of systems, methods, and sensing devices to address relevant scientific questions in such environments?
  • How can we deal with the algorithmic challenges from the perspective of planning, learning, and decision-making for long-term autonomy of robots in the field?

The overarching goal of the proposed workshop is to identify open challenges in autonomy for Earth and space exploration, and develop a roadmap for robotics researchers to address these challenges. We are soliciting papers that cover the topics of environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, disaster response, underground and underwater mapping, space missions and planetary science, and other related application domains. In the panel discussion, we will open the floor for a discussion of topics including the role of AI in exploration research, and areas where exploration vehicles (on Earth or planetary surfaces) may benefit from trends in consumer technology.

  • Hannah Kerner Assistant Research Professor, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland
  • Amy Tabb U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Appalachian Fruit Research Station (USDA-ARS-AFRS)
  • Jnaneshwar Das Alberto Behar Research Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University
  • Pratap Tokekar Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Maryland
  • Masahiro Ono Research Technologist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
Important Dates
  • May 22, 2020:    Contributed submissions due
  • June 12, 2020:   Acceptance/Rejection Deadline
  • July 12, 2020:    Event Date
  • System considerations for exploration of extreme environments such as underwater and benthic habitats, hot-springs, volcanoes, asteroids, and planetary surfaces.
  • Planetary subsurface exploration (subsurface ocean of Europa/Enceladus, vertical pits on the Moon/Mars, etc.)
  • Challenges in environmental monitoring, precision agriculture and farming, and disaster re- sponse.
  • Multi-robot learning and coordination for environmental modelling.
  • Underground and underwater mapping, space missions and planetary robots.
  • Novelty, anomaly, and change detection.
  • Decision-theoretic approaches for active sensing and physical sample (specimen) retrieval.
  • Sampling algorithms and strategies, e.g., opportunistic sampling, non-myopic sampling.
  • Online exploration algorithms: theory, experiments, and field studies.
  • On-board scientific interpretation, data prioritization.
Panel Discussion
  • Robotics – under-delivered or surpassed expectations in science autonomy?
  • AI – what is its role in exploration research and big-data driven discovery?
  • Hype cycles, crystal ball session – what can we take from self-driving car research?
  • Is Earth observation lagging behind consumer technology? How can roboticists help bridge the gap?
Invited Speakers
  1. Girish Chowdhary, University of Illinois, (confirmed), agricultural and farming robots Link
  2. Renaud Detry, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, (confirmed), in-space assembly and ocean-worlds underwater mobility/manipulation Link
  3. Stephanie Gil, Arizona State University, (invited), swarm coordination and communication Link
  4. Masahiro Ono, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, (confirmed), controls and state-estimation for planetary surface and subsurface exploration Link
  5. Salah Sukkarieh, University of Sydney, (invited), mining, agricultural, and environmental robotics Link
  6. Yoonchang Sung, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (confirmed), distributed planning and decision-making Link
  7. Sierra Young, North Carolina State University, (confirmed), robotics for agricultural and natural processes Link
  8. Kiri Wagstaff, Oregon State University, (confirmed), domain shift in deployed systems Link
Event Description

Robots in the Wild is a 1-day workshop held on July 12 at RSS 2020. The schedule will include invited speakers as well as spotlight presentations and poster sessions for accepted papers. We have 5 confirmed speakers and 2 invited speakers, so conservatively, we have planned for 6 invited talks. 10 selected contributions will be split into 2 sets of short talks, 5 minutes and 7 minutes each.


1 day

Paper Submission

Submitted papers should be no more than 6 pages, not including references. Please submit your papers in this format.