Debates on the
Future of Robotics Research

Full Day Workshop at ICRA 2019 in Montreal
Friday, May 24 | Room 519a

Will raw computing soon be more useful than human ingenuity for robotics research?

Who is poised to benefit from the recent surge of investments in modern AI and robotics research?

It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.

Joseph Joubert

Robotics is an interdisciplinary field that has the potential to change and be changed by numerous diverse stakeholders. While the future and potential impact of robotics research are frequent subjects of debate, these discussions have largely taken place at the margins of major technical events, whether as an outgrowth of panel discussions, over coffee breaks, or online. They have so far not been a significant and intentional feature of the major technical robotics conferences.

We believe the time is ripe for a series of highly visible debates by researchers and industry leaders on several important topics concerning the present and future trajectory of robotics research and practice. To this end, we propose a full-day workshop consisting of several debates on salient topics such as the state of robotics as an academic discipline, its relationship with other fields in computer science and engineering, and its broader social and economic impact. We believe that creating space for events such as this could play an important role in fostering constructive dialogue across multiple areas of robotics research and drive the field forward.

Call for Lighting Talk Position Papers

We are soliciting two-page position papers for short 3-5 minute Lightning talks during the workshop.

Deadline for submission: End of April 26th, 2019 - AoE

Notification of acceptance:: May 3rd, 2019

Paper Submission

Debate Schedule

Friday, 24 May, 2019 | 9:15 - 17:00, Room 519a

Time Proposition Debate Participants
For Against
9:15 - 10:30 ICRA, IROS and other major robotics conferences cover too broad a range of topics for meaningful discourse. Moderated by John Leonard Jonathan How MIT
Hadas Kress-Gazit Cornell
Peter Corke QUT
Chad Jenkins Michigan
11:00 - 12:00 Lightning talks
13:30 - 14:45 The pervasiveness of deep learning in robotics research is an impediment to gaining scientific insights into robotics problems. Moderated by Michael Milford Oliver Brock TU Berlin
Ryan Gariepy Clearpath Robotics
Nick Roy MIT
Angela Schoellig Toronto
15:15 - 17:00 Robotics needs a similar level of regulation and certification as other engineering disciplines (e.g., aviation), even if this results in slower technological innovation. Moderated by Hallie Siegel James Mickens Harvard
Aude Billard EPFL
Melonee Wise Fetch Robotics


  1. Lee Clement
  2. Valentin Peretroukhin
  3. Matthew Giamou
  4. Prof. Jonathan Kelly


Please address all inquiries and questions about the workshop to