RSS 2017 Workshop on
Minimality and Trade-offs
in Automated Robot Design

We are excited to invite you to the RSS 2017 workshop on Minimality and Trade-offs in Automated Robot Design, a full day workshop, on Sunday, July 16.

This workshop follows the successful first edition in 2016. That is the workshop that originated The Robot Design Game, a card game which seeks to explore the tradeoffs in resource constraints inherent in robot design problems. This year, we have an improved workshop format, and improved game as well!

This is a special workshop, for many reasons. Rather than making it a "mini conference" on a narrow established topic, which is the current mainstream idea of what a "workshop" should be, we sought to make this an opportunity to think broadly about some new interesting science to come.

The workshop is divided in three parts:

Please contact us if you already know how to play the game and want to be an "associate editor" in the tournament.

Please contact us if you wish to be a group leader for this part.

Later the organizers will edit the materials produced into a position statement.


Time Speaker/Activity
9:30-9:45 Andrea Censi - Introduction to the workshop
9:45-10:00 Kirstin Petersen, Designing Robot Collectives. slides
10:00-10:15 Andrew Spielberg
10:15-10:30 Amy LaViers
10:30-11:00 Break
11:00-11:15 Stelian Coros
11:15-11:30 Sehoon Ha
11:30-11:45 Mathew Halm, Direct Design Optimization for Trajectory Performance. slides
11:45-12:00 Jason Ziglar, Modularity & Composition: Automating System Synthesis. slides
12:00-12:15 Ron Alterovitz
12:15-12:30 Ankur Mehta, Is minimization the right answer? slides
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:00 Reconvene from lunch, form groups for the Robot Design Game
2:00-3:00 Alli Nilles - Explanation of the Robot Design Game, followed by the game tournament
3:00-3:30 Break (or continue playing the game)
3:30-4:00 Hadas Kress-Gazit, Group Discussion and Planning Next Steps
4:00-4:45 Breakout discussions
4:45-5:30 Report and discuss breakout discussions

The discussions will be moderated by Jason O'Kane.

Workshop motivation

Most fields of engineering are characterized by fundamental trade-offs between maximizing performance and minimizing resource usage; robotics is no exception. In robot design, trade-offs are distributed among subsystems such as sensing, actuation, computation, and power. A mathematical framework to describe these trade-offs does not yet exist.

The speakers and discussions in this workshop will focus on working toward formal representations that make automated reasoning and synthesis possible, and enable design choices beyond once-off, ad hoc solutions.

The workshop brings together roboticists with a variety of backgrounds to start to answer the question:

"How can computers and software help us navigate the space of design decisions?"

The workshop includes both invited speakers and a call for presenters who:

  1. can share practical examples of resource-constrained robots and their performance envelopes;

  2. are exploring abstractions and models which have promise as foundations for algorithmic design;

  3. have novel and unconventional ideas for how to tame the computational complexities involved.

The intended outcome of the workshop is a better understanding of how informal design decisions, including those exemplified in a custom design card game — played and discussed after lunch — can be refined and systematized so as to become fit for automation.

Guiding questions for the workshop

See here for the preliminary statements written by the speakers.


Minimality & Design Automation: Workshop at RSS 2016

See here for the predecessor of this workshop at RSS 2016.

The Robot Design Game

The Robot Design Game, a card game developed for RSS 2016 which seeks to explore the tradeoffs in resource constraints inherent in robot design problems.