IROS 2011: Monday to Wednesday

Written on October 28, 2011, 10:52 AM - Add a comment

Category: --- Category: --- Category: --- Category: Research Category: About me

Ha! Just in time to keep my promise of an October update. Here's a summary of my trip to the IROS 2011 conference in San Francisco.

Our article on multi-layered navigation meshes (an extraction of my MSc thesis) was accepted into that conference, so we went there to present its contents in a 5-minute teaser and an interactive presentation. I will write more about the research itself later; for now, let's discuss the trip and the conference! First half: Monday to Wednesday.

On Monday the 26th of September, a team of three --that is, Roland Geraerts and Atlas Cook IV and myself-- flew from Amsterdam via London to the US west coast. Quite a long journey; definitely my longest up until now, emphasized by a confusing 9-hour time difference!

When we arrived at the massive Hilton Union Square hotel in San Francisco, IROS had already been running for a day, and the opening ceremony was about to start. We were right on time to attend this ceremony in the hotel's Continental Ballroom, which would be split up into smaller conference rooms later this week.

Our long night's sleep successfully prevented a jetlag. On Tuesday, we picked up our name tag and IROS documents, including a DVD copy of the proceedings.

Proof that I was at IROS.

What followed was a week of interesting talks, masterfully organized excursions and dinners, personal touristy trips, and (most of all) lots of new impressions. I will give a rather rough summary.

We explored the city on foot that Tuesday. Via Union Square and the Transamerica Pyramid, we walked to the Embarcadero area and strolled from Pier 1 to the insanely touristy (but definitely amusing) Pier 39. In the evening, IROS hosted a dinner cruise that brought us past Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge. A great opportunity to chat with other conference attendees, take pictures by sunset, and enjoy views on the city by night.

Dinner Cruise impressions.

Wednesday featured many presentations on robot motion planning. In a conference that focused on many aspects of real robots (e.g. for household or medical needs), this theoretical topic was closest to ours. In particular, we attended interesting talks on sampling-based motion planning. For robots with many degrees of freedom (i.e. with a high-dimensional configuration space, we cannot use exact methods to plan a path. Instead, we usually sample and connect random configurations into a graph structure. Many IROS talks were devoted to enhancing this random sampling/connection scheme to handle difficult scenarios.

A quick and surprisingly good introduction to (sampling-based) motion planning can be found on Wikipedia.

At the end of the day, it was our time to shine... At around 5 PM, I gave a five-minute teaser presentation explaining our article on an exact, efficient and automatically constructed multi-layered navigation mesh. There was no time for questions just yet-- it was meant as a warm-up for tomorrow morning.

In the evening, a seemingly endless parade of buses (over 9,000?) took hundreds of IROS attendees to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, where we had a banquet and access to the museum's exhibitions.

This concludes the first half of my IROS discussion. Stay tuned for more!

Written on October 28, 2011, 10:52 AM - Add a comment

Category: --- Category: --- Category: --- Category: Research Category: About me

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