Debates on the
Future of Robotics Research

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

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

Joseph Joubert

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 are organizing 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.

2019 Workshop Debrief

Thank you to all of the debaters, moderators and lightning talk participants who made this such a successful workshop! We were delighted to see that each debate and lightning talk generated so much fruitful discussion and engagement from the robotics community. We are working on a Robotics & Automation Magazine article to summarize the event.

If you are interested in helping organize this type of workshop at next year's ICRA, please email us at icradebates2019 @


Courtesy of Olivier Lamarre.
Debate #1
Debate #2
Debate #2
Debate #3
Lightning talk #1
Lightning talk #2
Lightning talk #3
Lightning talk #4

Workshop Schedule

Friday, 24 May, 2019 | 8:30 - 17:00, Room 519a

Time Debate or Event
8:30 - 8:45 Opening Remarks
8:45 - 10:00 ICRA, IROS and other major robotics conferences cover too broad a range of topics for meaningful discourse. Moderated by John Leonard MIT For
Jonathan How MIT
Hadas Kress-Gazit Cornell
Peter Corke QUT
Chad Jenkins Michigan
10:00 - 10:30 ☕ Coffee Break
10:30 - 11:30 ⚡ Lightning Talks
(5 minutes + 5 minute question period)
PDF Position Papers

Different Degrees of Regulations for Robotics
Adam Hall and Emmett Wise

Bias In, Bias Out - Diversity In, Diversity Out
Karime Pereida and Melissa Greeff

Play, Explore, Challenge: A design strategy for innovation
Matthew Robertson

Robotics: An Academic Discipline
Dr. Signe Redfield
Published as a Comment in Nature Machine Intelligence

The Pervasiveness of Deep Learning in Robotics Research Does Not Impede Scientific Insights into Robotics Problems
Stewart Jamieson

11:30 - 13:30 🍽 Lunch Break
13:30 - 15:00 The pervasiveness of deep learning in robotics research is an impediment to gaining scientific insights into robotics problems. Moderated by Michael Milford QUT For
Oliver Brock TU Berlin
Ryan Gariepy Clearpath Robotics
Nick Roy MIT
Angela Schoellig Toronto
15:00 - 15:30 ☕ Coffee Break
15:30 - 16:45 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 OCAD For
James Mickens Harvard
Ludovic Righetti NYU
Aude Billard EPFL
Melonee Wise Fetch Robotics
16:45 - 17:00 Closing Remarks

Debate Structure

  1. Moderator/debater introductions + initial audience poll (5 min)
  2. Opening arguments (20 min = 4 debaters x 5 min each)
  3. Moderated discussion between debaters + audience Q&A (15 min)
  4. Closing remarks (10 min = 4 debaters x 2.5 min each)
  5. Final audience poll + polling results (5 min)
  6. Moderated panel debrief + audience Q&A (15 to 20 min)

Organizing Committee


Please address all inquiries and questions about the workshop to icradebates2019 @