Debates on the
Future of Robotics Research

Full Day Workshop at ICRA 2019 in Montreal

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?

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.

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

Joseph Joubert


  • Prof. Chad Jenkins, University of Michigan
  • Dr. AJung Moon, Open Roboethics Institute
  • Prof. Jonathan How, MIT
  • Prof. John Leonard, MIT
  • Prof. Oliver Brock, TU Berlin
  • Prof. Hadas Kress-Gazit, Cornell
  • Prof. Nick Roy, MIT
  • Hallie Siegel, formerly of
  • ... and more to come!

Workshop Schedule


Debate Topics

  • Robotics & Technology
  • Academic & Professional Issues
  • Ethical, Legal, and Social Impact of Robotics

Call for Papers

We will be soliciting two-page extended abstracts for short two minute lightning talks during the workshop.

Paper Submission


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


Please address all inquiries and questions about the workshop to