The UTK College of Engineering (COE), specifically the Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering (MABE) department, was strongly represented at the 2014 IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) held in Hong Kong, China May 31through June 7. ICRA is one of the world’s largest conferences on robotics and automation research, covering everything from surgical robotic tools to friendly humanoids to unmanned aerial vehicles. This year the conference theme was “Robotics and Automation: Technologies Enabling New Economic Growth,” which reflected the growing spectrum and recent developments in robotics and automation around the world. Drs. William R. Hamel and Jindong Tan from the MABE department served as the Program Chair and Program Co-Chair respectively. MABE assistant professors Caleb Rucker and Eric Wade also attended the conference.
Dr. Lynne Parker, from Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Conference Editorial Board which provided appromixately 6000 reviews of the 2085 papers submitted to the conference. The program committee selected 1017 papers for presentation during the three days of the conference and publication in the proceedings. UTK COE professors and students authored nine papers at this exclusive international meeting.
Among hundreds of papers in the area of robot manipulation, Rucker and his PhD student, Ms. Caroline E. Bryson, received the ICRA Best Manipulation Paper Award for their paper entitled, “Toward Parallel Continum Manipulators.” The paper describes a new type of dexterous manipulator arm made from multiple flexible rods, which could impact both minimally invasive surgery and safe human-robot interaction. This prestigious award highlights innovative efforts in the planning and execution of manipulation tasks, which take place in dynamic environments. The award criterion also states that the paper should overcome numerous challenges, that new applications are highly sought after, and that the integration of humans is critical.
This is an outstanding achievement for Rucker and Bryson who joined MABE in 2013. Rucker said, “I am very proud of all the hard work that our lab members have put in over the past year to conduct and present this research. Undergraduate students Andrew Orekhov, Scotty Chung, and Jonathan Carlton helped produce demonstration hardware and videos which enhanced Caroline’s excellent presentation at the conference. We are humbled and grateful for the award, which will further inspire our continued work.”