Workshop on Minimality & Design Automation

Robotics: Science and Systems 2016

Organizers: Andrea Censi (MIT), Dylan Shell (Texas A&M), Jason O'Kane (South Carolina)

Saturday, June 18, 2016, Full Day

Location: North Quad 2245


Simpler robots are better, but it gets complicated. How can computers help us?
The theoretical question of determining the fewest resources necessary to perform a task is practically useful and intellectually deep. This question remains fundamentally open. There are few examples of impossibility results or studies that show a systematic understanding of the relationship between functionality and resources involved in a robotic system. The "functionality → minimal resources" map is hard to describe, and the resulting optimization problem "given the functionality required, find the feasible designs that use the least resources" is hard to solve.

This workshop brings together researchers in two emerging areas:

This workshop will spur on discussion of these topics individually but will primarily emphasize their interplay. Its goal is to invigorate discussion among the various researchers.

The format will include:


9:00–9:30 Dylan Shell Welcome and Introduction (Slides)
9:30–9:45 Andrea Censi Co-Design Problems in Robotics (Slides)
9:45–10:00 Jason O'Kane Design Automation is Hard. Deal with It. (Slides)
10:00–10:30 Break
10:30–10:45 Sawyer Fuller Don't Model Things. Just Build Robots. (Slides)
10:45–11:00 Matteo Bianchi Minimality and Under-Sensing: A Human-Inspired Approach (Slides)
11:00–11:15 Ron Fearing Minimal Actuation in Legged Locomotion (Slides)
11:30–11:45 Dan Aukes Automating the Design Process for Folding Laminate Device (Slides)
11:45–1:45 Lunch
1:45–2:00 Greg Chirikjian From Binary-Actuated Manipulators to Lie Groups (Slides)
2:00–2:15 Aaron Becker Minimality in Control: Sometimes Less is All You've Got (Slides)
2:15–2:30 Yu Zhang Minimality in Multi-Robot Sytems (Slides)
2:30–2:45 Hadas Kress-Gazit Synthesizing Robots from Specifications (Slides)
2:45–3:00 Ankur Mehta Personal and Ubiquitous Robots (Slides)
3:00–3:30 Introduction to The Robot Design Game
3:30–4:00 Break
4:00–5:15 The Robot Design Game
5:15–5:30 Discussion

The Robot Design Game

The current rules (PDF).

The cards in the basic deck (PDF)

How to contribute new cards

Use this form to suggest a new card.

You can compile/extend the cards yourself by looking at the instructions on this GitHub repository.

How to print a deck yourself

This zip file (900MB) contains the compiled cards. In particular the directory toprint contains the JPGs that we sent to the printers.

We used the company

How to get a deck the next time we order a bunch

We plan to spend a few weeks refining the existing cards and creating new cards, and then we will put in a big order towards the end of Summer 2016.

If you want to join this order, please use this form to sign up. The price to have the decks professionally printed is in the order of $30 for a deck with 234 cards.

Mailing list

Please join this Google Group to discuss with us the extensions and refinement of the game.

Below, some of the peer-reviewed solutions found during the games.