IEEE RAS Space Robotics Technical Committee
Triennial Report

Chairs:  R. Volpe, K. Yoshida, A. Schiele
September, 2016


1.      Summary Assessment

The Space Robotics Technical Committee (SRTC) is an affiliation of robotics engineers active in this specialized area.  While not larger than many other focus areas of RAS, space robotics enjoys periodic global attention due to some high profile systems in the domain (e.g. Curiosity Mars Rover, Robonaut, etc.).  The TC seeks to channel that public and robotic community interest into both an appreciation of the sub-discipline, as well as refocusing of effort to specific challenge problems, as appropriate.

Toward these ends, the SRTC has involvement and interaction with many major space exploration organizations (e.g. NASA, JAXA, ESA, DLR, CSA, etc.) and research groups from universities, industry, and national labs in associated countries, and beyond.  There has also been outreach to limited points of contact in other countries doing relevant work (e.g. China, India, Russia, Egypt), and it is hoped that the future will bring representatives from there into the SRTC. 

As a catalyst and venue for these interactions, SRTC members host relevant workshops, chair special sessions, give invited talks, visit other member’s institutions, and similar.   Additionally, they participate in related committees and organizations to broaden the discussion and leverage the related activities – examples include:  AIAA Space Automation and Robotics Technical Committee, IEEE CIS Task Force on Space Applications, National Robotics Roadmap (Computing Community Consortium), IEEE Aerospace Conference, Field and Service Robotics Conference, Pioneering Planetary Surface Systems (PISCES) Conference, i-SAIRAS Conference, etc.

One specific form of interaction is facilitated by the technical committee – namely the interaction of junior researchers with senior members of the field.  For example, several students have participated in IEEE Aerospace Conference robotics sessions and used that interaction for internships or employment at NASA/JPL.  Additionally, members of the SRTC participate in the review process for NASA Graduate Student Research Fellowships.

Overall, the SRTC is vital and healthy, even if not strongly centralized.  We request that you confirm its ongoing value to the community, and approve its continuation for another three years.



2.      Activities of Past Three Years (see list for sub topics)

a.      International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS), Beijing, China, 19-22 June 2016.

b.      IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana, USA, 6-12 March 2016.  Special sessions, including “Robotic Mobility and Sample Acquisition Systems”.

c.       10th Conference on Field and Service Robotics (FSR), Toronto, Canada, 24-26 June 2015.

d.      ESA ESTEC 13th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation (ASTRA),  Noordwijk, the Netherlands, 11-13 May 2015.

e.      IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Workshop on The Next Generation of Space Robotic Servicing Technologies.  Seattle, Washington, 26 May 2015.

f.        IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana, USA, 7-14 March 2015. Special sessions, including “Robotic Mobility and Sample Acquisition Systems”.

g.      International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS), Montreal, Canada, 17-19 June 2014.

h.      IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Workshop on Modelling, Estimation, Perception and Control of All Terrain Mobile Robots, Hong-Kong, China, 1 June 2014.

i.        IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana, USA, 1-8 March 2014. Special sessions, including “Robotic Mobility and Sample Acquisition Systems”.

j.        Journal of Field Robotics, Special Issue on Space Robotics, Part II. Editors M. Van Winnendael and D. Wettergreen. Volume 31, Issue 1, January/February 2014.

k.       Space Robotics Workshop, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Karlsruhe, Germany, May 2013.

l.        IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana, USA, 2-9 March 2013. Special sessions, including “Mobility and Robotics Systems for In Situ Exploration”.

m.    9th Conference on Field and Service Robotics (FSR), Brisbane, Australia, 9-11 December 2013.

3.      List of outreach activities outside the RAS

a.      Rijeka Robotics Camp 2016, NASA representation (Chuck Bergh, JPL) sponsored by US Embassy in Croatia.

b.      Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation, founded in 2011 by Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu.  Awarded Google RISE grant in 2013.

c.       FIRST Robotics.

d.      Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Annual Open House.

4.      List of important publications over past 3 years in TC area.

a.      Contemporary Planetary Robotics: An Approach Toward Autonomous Systems, Yang Gao (editor), Wiley, 2016.

b.      UK-RAS White Paper:  Space Robotics & Autonomous Systems, 2016.

c.       NASA Technology Roadmap TA4: Robotics and Autonomous Systems, July 2015.

d.      Journal of Field Robotics – Special Issue on Space Robotics (2014)

5.      Number of members each year for the past three years:

2016 – 28 members, 2015 – 30 members, 2014 – 30 members

6.      Summary of top technical innovations in the area during the past three years:

a.      Korean Lunar Exploration (2016-present) – development of a lander and rover.

b.      NASA ARM (2015-present) – development of the Asteroid Redirect Mission.

c.       NASA M2020 (2015-present) – development of Mars rover for sample caching.

d.      NASA Restore-L (2015-present) – development of a satellite refueling mission.

e.      NASA Raven (2014-present) – ISS autonomous navigation and guidance system technology demonstrator.

f.        ESA ExoMars Rover (2012-present) – development of Mars rover.

g.      NASA MSL (2011-present) – RTG powered Mars rover.

h.      CNSA Yutu Rover (2013-2016) – Chinese lunar rover.

i.        ESA METERON (2015) – Rover teleoperation from the International Space Station.

j.        NASA GSFC Robotic Refueling Mission (2013) – manipulation experiments on the International Space Station (ISS).

k.       NASA JSC Robonaut 2 (2010-present) – dual-armed experimental system internal to ISS

7.      Recommendations (and alternates) for new co-chairs:  one from each primary region

a.      Corresponding Co-Chair:  Richard Volpe, NASA/JPL (renewal)
            (or Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu, NASA/JPL, possible alternate nominee)

b.      Co-chair:  Kazuya Yoshida, Tohoku University (renewal)
            (or Takashi Kubota, ISAS/JAXA, possible alternate nominee)

c.       Co-chair:  André Schiele, Delft University of Technology (new)