Early Days of ICRA Competitions

Invoice Good, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics at Oregon State College, helped begin competitions as a part of ICRA. On this episode, Invoice dives into the high-level choices concerned with making a significant competitors. The dialog explores how competitions are there to showcase analysis, potential concepts for future competitions, the thrilling part of robotics we’re at present in, and the intersection of robotics, ethics, and legislation.

Invoice Good

Dr. Good does analysis within the areas of robotics and machine studying. In robotics, Good is especially thinking about enhancing the interactions between folks and robots; enabling robots to be self-sufficient for weeks and months at a time; and figuring out how they can be utilized as private assistants for folks with extreme motor disabilities. In machine studying, Good is thinking about creating methods for educating robots to behave successfully (and even optimally), primarily based on long-term interactions with the world and given intermittent and at instances incorrect suggestions on their efficiency.



kegan: [00:00:00] Hello, welcome to the robo hub podcast. Would you thoughts introducing your self for us please?

Dr. Invoice Good: Positive. Uh, I’m Invoice Good. I’m a professor in robotics at Oregon State College and for the previous yr, I’ve additionally been part-time at Amazon. There as an Amazon scholar.

kegan: Superior. So have you ever at all times seen your self working in robotics and CS and STEM or, or type of, what’s your story attending to the place you at the moment are?

Dr. Invoice Good: I’ve at all times type of been a science man, a math man. I used to be not good at math. Uh, arithmetic in highschool kinda fell into laptop science from there. After which from laptop science into robotics. The origin story is a little bit bizarre. I first thought of robotics trigger I noticed an article about Rod Brooks and his group and uh, I feel it was Smithsonian journal and it simply seemed actually cool and that type of led me to robotics.

kegan: I really feel like lots of us in robotics get into it simply because it, it [00:01:00] does look cool. It’s visually cool. and it’s one thing you’ll be able to construct and really have a an precise factor from the pc science, type of, facet which frequently is simply, you understand, software program. So, inform us, how have you ever been concerned in competitions as a result of we hear that you just type of helped begin the, ICRA competitions.

Dr. Invoice Good: Yeah. Um, so I feel it was 2008 in Pasadena. Um, we had the primary ICRA robotic competitors or one thing, Paul Rybski who was at CMU then, and I, led for a few years, we acquired lots of assist from ICRA. Um, I feel Gaurav Sukhatme was the final chair that yr, or he, he gave us lots of assist to get it going. And actually, it was simply an effort to attempt to get robots at a robotics convention, ICRA a fantastic convention and there’s lots of nice work there, however the one robots, traditionally, have been within the, the seller cubicles. And it, it felt like we must always have some. They form of [00:02:00] tied the robots to the, the analysis, being offered.

kegan: Yeah, so what have been the unique competitions, like what have been they, what have been you making an attempt to push? What was it doing? Oh,

Dr. Invoice Good: that’s, that’s nice. So there’s an actual pressure with competitions the place you wish to replicate what’s occurring in analysis and never make it a off particular factor that diverts folks from analysis as a result of then folks don’t actually get thinking about it. Um, the primary yr we had. Effectively, I, possibly I ought to’ve completed my homework. First yr. We had it was like a planetary exploration factor the place we constructed a little bit Mars scape from gravel and stuff within the, within the conference middle. I feel there was a modular robots occasion. Mark was concerned in doing a modular robots.

And one thing else, which I can’t, I actually get that’s superb. However what we did is we put out a name for individuals who have been thinking about working a contest. So we facilitated it and helped with the infrastructure, however we had folks [00:03:00] suggest competitions and run them independently. [Hmm that’s cool]. So I’m making an attempt to replicate what was so sizzling within the analysis subject.

kegan: Yeah. I really feel like competitions are form of this in-between floor of business and academia too. And also you type of talked about that you just had you’ve labored briefly at Amazon, proper. Uh, otherwise you spent a while there. How do you type of see that relationship between business and academia or possibly tied in with competitions as properly?

Dr. Invoice Good: Effectively, I feel within the historical past of the ICRA competitions, it’s been principally lecturers. Who’ve led them, however a few instances I do know Amazon led the selecting problem, which was a contest for a number of years and Fetch robotics led the I neglect what they name it. The Fetch manipulation problem for a few years, I feel it was a approach to, you understand, for corporations to have interaction with the tutorial group in a comparatively structured method.

You understand, possibly they’ve an issue they wish to remedy. Um, or an issue they wish to encourage folks to consider. [00:04:00] Um, I feel it’s exhausting to make use of the stuff that comes out of competitions immediately in business due to IP issues and since simply, you understand, issues need to be much more hardened in business, I feel, however I feel it’s a great way to get that first engagement, get folks thinking about that, you understand, in, in part of the house possibly.

kegan: Positively. Trigger it is also one thing, you understand, typically visually entertaining with like robotic soccer or one thing like that, if that’s type of the competitors and I can see that being actually participating.

Dr. Invoice Good: yeah. And I, I feel the, they develop competitors, you carry up Robocup, proper. And I feel Robocup has been tremendously profitable, however it type of targeted on the competitors and the science grew out of the competitors.

And I feel what we have been making an attempt to do at ICRA is form of possibly the opposite method round the place we tried to get the science to, to make use of the competitors to show the science as as an alternative of getting the competitors drive the science. If that is smart.

kegan: Yeah. As a approach to type of showcase the, [00:05:00] the analysis that’s been occurring right here.

Dr. Invoice Good: Yeah. And I get all of the tangible method of really seeing the robots in motion and possibly, you understand, drive us because the researchers to be a little bit extra trustworthy concerning the assumptions we’re making. Once we formulate issues in our paper.

kegan: That’s one other good level. It form of provides you additionally a deadline.

It form of provides you want one thing to push in direction of one thing to work in direction of. Whereas if you’re engaged on analysis, it could form of be a little bit nebulous in the way you set your personal objectives. Yeah.

Dr. Invoice Good: I feel, I feel it’s factor and a nasty factor. I feel the deadline is an efficient factor, however. Uh, the flip facet of that’s you could have a deadline, which is true subsequent to the competitors and proper subsequent to the convention moderately.

And if you go to ICRA, you form of wish to go and see the talks as a result of the talks are good. Um, however when you’re within the competitors, there’s type of a pressure there of like, except you’ve met the deadline already, nobody ever does, like, you’re form of hacking away at midnight and, you understand, do you do the competitors or do you do the do the convention.

I feel we’ve, that’s been a problem over time trigger you [00:06:00] need it to replicate the analysis, however when you’re reflecting this analysis, you form of wish to go and current and hearken to analysis talks on the convention. And so I feel that’s one thing we’ve been working by over time to attempt not looking for that proper steadiness.

kegan: Yeah. And so have you ever seen the competitors’s form of evolve over time and alter?

Dr. Invoice Good: Yeah, I imply, actually the, the fabric in them, the subject material is altering. Um, I feel it’s nonetheless. They’re nonetheless not as built-in with the primary convention as they is perhaps. And I don’t actually know the way to try this.

Um, however I assumed I’m actually happy to see that it’s nonetheless going, like that is 2022 and we’ve got competitions this yr. Um, and so it’s actually cool to see what Paul and I pitched on the market, you understand? It looks like a thousand years in the past. Um, it’s it’s nonetheless going, so there should be some utility in I

kegan: suppose.

Have you ever seen any type of real-world advantages that come out of it or any, or do you could have [00:07:00] any.

Dr. Invoice Good: Um, properly, I imply, I feel all this, I feel the engagement with corporations which might be right here, when you’re an organization at ICRA you’ll be able to come and see somebody working with robots and really see tangibly, what they’re, they’re as much as, moderately than simply listening to them current.

Possibly, possibly there’s one thing that’s popping out of that it’s so exhausting to quantify that possibly I feel it’s, it’s acquired folks thinking about completely different components of the house. After which possibly that has led to some outcomes, however I feel the competitions themselves, I, I’m not so certain the, how, easy methods to direct, then you’ll be able to draw a direct line between the competitors into one thing within the, on the planet.

kegan: Yeah. It might be exhausting to type of make that direct

Dr. Invoice Good: on the identical, on the identical time you’ll be able to consider, you understand, asking the identical query of papers. Like when you see a paper, proper. Huh? Yeah, lots of the papers you see at ICRA, make it into product and make it into methods. However the, you understand, the road, isn’t all at all times apparent.


kegan: I one factor is I do know that a few of your work [00:08:00] you’ve completed and proper me if I’m incorrect, however you’ve labored on having long run analysis with, with like an experiment. Proper. Um, yeah. So competitors feels very short-term. Do you suppose that would ever be a long-term competitors.

Dr. Invoice Good: That’s a fantastic query. Um, in some sense, Robocup does this, you understand, since you, you launch your code and other people construct in your code, I assume. Yeah. Yr on yr. Um, however might you could have the identical factor the place you come again yearly? Um, that’s a extremely attention-grabbing thought. I’ve by no means actually considered that.

I feel logistically, it’s exhausting since you get various churn throughout the scholar physique. In the event you’ve completed it this yr, and also you’re writing your dissertation subsequent yr. You’re, you’re going to be much less inclined to do it. Um, that’s a extremely attention-grabbing query although. Trigger then that might be a good way to show progress yr on yr, which is a factor, one of many stuff you wish to attempt to do initially with competitions.

kegan: Yeah. One factor. It might be exhausting to get folks or possibly [00:09:00] not, however get folks concerned when you’re already doing it like a multi-year factor, as a result of usually I might suppose. Everybody like new folks yearly to be becoming a member of proper. The competitors.

Dr. Invoice Good: Yeah. Once more, I, I, once more, I feel you need each issues you understand, the brand new folks, you understand, it’s concentrating for brand spanking new college students and it will get extra folks excited.

Um, however you continue to want that, that yr to yr information switch when you’re going to be constructing on issues. Um, I feel the problem is an instructional is funding competitions yr on yr, ’trigger, you understand, you could have a group of 5 college students, you need to, you understand, wherever ICRA is, and ICRA goes all over the world, you need to discover funding to get them and the robots to ICRA reliably to, to maintain that.

Um, it’s a extremely attention-grabbing thought although. Yeah. Uh, if anybody’s listening and desires to pitch it, I might, I might like to assist that.

kegan: Yeah. So there we go. If anybody’s listening and desires to do it so I see competitors is usually type of being an [00:10:00] interdisciplinary method with a number of folks engaged on a group to do one thing. And that’s additionally simply true of robotics usually. Sure. Um, one factor I used to be intrigued after I seemed into your background was that you’ve labored with robotics and coverage and type of how the 2 overlap. Possibly. May you discuss a little bit about that and, what you’re curiosity there’s.

Dr. Invoice Good: Yeah. Um, so we’re, we’re beginning to see robots coming into the actual world.

Um, you understand, you’ll be able to, you’ll be able to truly purchase robots and have them in your house. Now. Um, business’s utilizing robots extensively on one of many issues that’s inflicting concern in an business, I feel is litigation over robots, how the legislation interacts with robots, how they’re regulated what is going to occur when issues go incorrect, if there’s an accident.

Um, and there’s only a lot new materials. In that house, proper? We haven’t litigated lots of robotics circumstances. We don’t have many authorized students, authorized practitioners, policymakers who learn about [00:11:00] robots. And we don’t have lots of roboticists who know concerning the legislation and learn about coverage. Um, so about 10 years in the past with a co-author Neil Richards, who’s a legislation professor at WashU in St. Louis we wrote a paper, making an attempt to attract some outlines of how the legislation ought to begin to consider these new applied sciences. And so it attracts closely on lots of scholarship within the authorized group already across the, the, the web and different applied sciences, lots of stuff influenced by Ryan Calo from College of Washington.

Um, and we, we managed to truly get that right into a convention known as WeRobot which is that this September in Seattle (if anybody desires to go) which is a superb convention that brings collectively authorized students, coverage students, practitioners, and technologists, and talks about actual sensible issues and actual sensible options on the intersection of all these issues.

And it simply struck me as a) there aren’t sufficient technologists. Uh, there aren’t sufficient [00:12:00] roboticists participating with authorized group and b) I’d actually wish to be taught extra concerning the authorized group. And so it’s simply been a extremely attention-grabbing method for me to be taught stuff that I didn’t study and gentle to develop what I’m interested by in my everyday.

kegan: That’s actually cool! I really feel that always we, it’s simple to be like, oh yeah, the folks working in legislation don’t know something about robotics and other people in robotics form of assume that, oh, the politicians, they don’t type of know something about what we truly work on. Um, however I, I don’t actually know what they’re engaged on or how they, I don’t actually perceive the entire course of. And so that’s cool to be taught each side. Uh, each instructions.

Dr. Invoice Good: That first yr that we robotic convention, I used to be within the again row on Wikipedia, wanting up all these actually easy authorized phrases as a result of I, I actually didn’t perceive it, I feel. And over time, I’ve, I’ve acquired, I’ve acquired some understanding of it now, however I feel the very best factor about going to conferences like that, it’s not that I can be taught the legislation it’s [00:13:00] that I can be taught sufficient of the grown-up phrases to speak to individuals who know the legislation, and we will have an actual dialog, a significant dialog, and possibly I may also help get them grounded in. You understand, what robots are and what they’re not, and what science fiction and what’s sensible. And there’s a rising group of roboticists who you’ll acknowledge from ICRA, participating with communities like this. And I feel I might encourage anybody listening to become involved in that as a result of it’s, it’s actually attention-grabbing and I feel, the one method we’re going to get good regulation and good coverage and good legislation is by having each of those sides actually get into it and have these deeper conversations. Yeah.

kegan: Do you suppose a contest might ever exist there to assist them actually get into it? Um,

Dr. Invoice Good: yeah, doubtlessly. I feel the, you understand, this yr we’ve got a contest that type of targeted on robotic.

Hmm, the place, you understand, a part of it’s you intend a design after which there’s, there’s going to be a little bit [00:14:00] hackathon at ICRA to attempt to implement some sensible ethics. Um, and principally to grasp, to not come, include, provide you with an entire system, however to grasp how, how exhausting that’s taking the best way that ethicists and attorneys discuss issues and grinding it out and dealing code.

Um, I feel one of many issues of participating the authorized group to select, to select that group with competitions is an issue we’ve had with competitions from the beginning in that you just’re probably not rewarded for successful a contest, like as a college member or as a grad scholar, you’re rewarded for getting papers or possibly getting funding or your new outcomes.

And so I feel one of many issues. That’s been exhausting within the authorized work is making an attempt to love line up the motivation buildings. So the papers that I’ve printed within the authorized group are technically [00:15:00] unpublished from my, my promotion perspective, as a result of there are evaluated by undergraduates in legislation journals.

They’re not peer reviewed in the best way that we view. Yeah. And so the incentives for me are like off from the incentives from the authorized group. And I feel that carries throughout doubly in these comp competitors competitions.

kegan: Attention-grabbing. But it surely’s clearly one thing helpful to do. So it ought to one way or the other, you understand, you’ll hope.

Dr. Invoice Good: Yeah. I don’t suppose we discover methods to do it. Um, you understand, you, you write a paper possibly with extra of a slant in direction of the technical group and also you publish it. Uh, possibly not in, in ICRA, you understand, different, different conferences, like Superior robotics and social impression, one thing like that for AIES. Um, after which possibly you write a barely completely different paper, however it’s extra slanted in direction of the authorized group and also you publish that in a legislation evaluate or one thing like that.

But it surely’s one thing I feel it’s simpler for a roboticist is simpler [00:16:00] later in your profession. Possibly if you’ve, you understand, you’ve, you’ve acquired a background of technical publications that your tenure committee goes to be pleased with. It’s simpler to do. Yeah. I don’t know the marginally weirder stuff. Yeah. Yeah.

kegan: When you’ve acquired that groundwork, then you’ll be able to type of do it

Dr. Invoice Good: Freedom of tenure, however I actually began to anybody to become involved on this. And I feel, you understand, taking a look at job alternatives sooner or later, I feel there’s gonna be an amazing marketplace for both attorneys who perceive expertise or technologists who perceive authorized frameworks.

kegan: Do you suppose that it must be one particular person otherwise you labored with a with a legislation professor, proper?

Dr. Invoice Good: Yeah. No, I feel you’d need to it’s like every part, like if you’re constructing a robotic, you’re not each the mechanical engineer and the pc scientist, however you understand, sufficient of the opposite particular person’s language to, to have the ability to collaborate with them.

I feel it’s the identical factor. Yeah. I don’t know the legislation, however I do know sufficient of the fundamentals of the legislation and sufficient of the phrases that I can discuss to my [00:17:00] colleagues who do know the legislation, and we will have this type of substantive dialogue about it. Yeah,

kegan: Know sufficient to have the ability to have that dialog and to have the ability to collaborate.

Dr. Invoice Good: Okay. I feel too, you understand, there’s this rising group and with, as communities develop, you, you, you begin to belief one another. So now I’ve individuals who know the legislation, who I’m not embarrassed to go and ask a extremely dumb questions of. And so they say, properly, each first yr is aware of that. After which they clarify it after which they ask actually dumb expertise questions for me.

And I feel that, getting previous that embarrassment is a key for the type of stuff. Yeah.

kegan: Do you could have any recommendation for easy methods to construct that type of community,

Dr. Invoice Good: um, come to WeRobot in September on the College of Washington, I feel it’s, it’s like lots of issues you understand, it’s like if you go to ICRA you hearken to papers, however lots of the, the enterprise of the convention occurs within the hallway, proper. If you’re assembly folks and also you’re [00:18:00] speaking about like barely much less fleshed out concepts, I feel it’s actually simply constructing an expert community. Um, getting, you understand, discovering somebody who’s possibly a little bit extra, a little bit farther down their profession path than you might be, after which so asking, you understand, asking to be dropped at the desk and so injecting your self into these conversations.

kegan: That’s nice recommendation. We’re getting nearer to time right here. So I I’d wish to wrap up with, what are you most enthusiastic about transferring ahead? If this might be a challenge you’re engaged on, this might be competitors associated or simply no matter you’re most enthusiastic about.

Dr. Invoice Good: I’m simply actually excited to be in robotics proper now. I feel we’re at this bizarre place. Um, I’ve been doing robotics now for about 30 years. Um, which looks as if a very long time, however I lastly discovered easy methods to construct robots that individuals should purchase and put of their properties or put of their companies which might be doing issues which might be sensible. We will begin to consider, you understand, [00:19:00] how does, how do folks work together with these robots for greater than an hour?

For me, you understand, for a few hours for a few weeks at a time or years at a time we begin to, I feel we begin to have the ability to reply the extra attention-grabbing questions, ’trigger we all know, we perceive like easy methods to make a robotic go from right here to right here. We all know easy methods to construct them up. We all know these aren’t solved issues by any means, however we all know sufficient now to ask questions which might be large-scale and really might have an effect on how we stay our on a regular basis lives.

kegan: I, I completely agree although. So we’re lastly seeing these robots come into the actual world, and I feel that introduces lots of actually cool, attention-grabbing new

Dr. Invoice Good: issues. And. Yeah, and I feel too, like, there’s a chance now, if you wish to get a job in robotics, you’ll be able to be part of an organization and work on a robotic that in two or three years, time goes to make somebody’s life measurably higher. And that’s actually good. That’s actually cool. Yeah. [00:20:00] That’s superior.

kegan: Thanks for taking the time to return discuss with us. And I actually loved listening to all of that. You needed to say. Um, so thanks.

Dr. Invoice Good: That’s my pleasure.


tags: Actuation, Algorithm AI-Cognition, c-Analysis-Innovation, Competitors-Problem, cx-Analysis-Innovation, podcast

Abate De Mey
Founding father of Fluid Dev, Hiring Platform for Robotics

Abate De Mey
Founding father of Fluid Dev, Hiring Platform for Robotics