ICRA23 workshop on robot assisted safe manipulation of hazardous materials

This workshop aims to bring together experts in robotics with those who handle hazardous materialm to identify critical challenges and future opportunities to reduce the risk to personnel of processing hazardous samples. These tasks can involve dangerous pathogens (up to Containment Level 4) chemicals and explosives, therefore the challenges are far more complex compared to robotic manipulation of stable objects in other environments eg factories. We aim to identify specific challenges in unimanual and bi-manual manipulation, realtime multimodal (i.e. haptic, visual, odor, etc.) perception, human-robot interaction and human augmentation, and semi-autonomous telemanipulation.. We will bring in defence experts to provide further detail on the risk  associated withdifferent classes of samples, the diversity of mechanical and chemical properties of typical hazardous materials processed in a defence lab and future needs and challenges that can be addressed by the robotics community. The multidisciplinary approach to this workshop will help to build a better understanding leading to fruitful collaborations that are currently limited.

Multiple streams in robotics such as grasping, bimanual object manipulation, realtime multimodal perception, and semi-autonomous human robot interaction have made important advances in diverse areas from factories, to agriculture, and medicine. However still there are still existing challenges to overcome including uncertainty in the samples being manipulated. These range from dangerous pathogens to toxic chemicals and explosive materials, all with differing issues and risks. In some instances, the properties of the sample are not completely known until analysis is completed. Therefore the demand for realtime decision making is higher than normal. The robotics community will benefit from understanding the context from defence experts who have experience in these areas  handling hazardous materials often within limited and restricted environments The interactive sessions will open up opportunities to draw principles from multiple areas of robotics and automation to solve future grand challenges to improve safety and efficiency for this application domain.




The workshop will have 2 sessions of presentations, panel discussions, and breakout ideation. One session will be held in the morning and the other will be held after lunch.

Each session will include experts in robotics and hazardous material handling. After a 1-hour session of talks from both communities the audience will have the opportunity to participate in a 1-hour Q&A session with the panel of speakers. In this Q&A session, the presenters will also get the opportunity to discuss topics amongst themselves. Following this discussion, the community will break out to 4 groups to ideate future scenarios under the 4 themes: Perception, Grasping and manipulation, Human-robot interaction, and Machine learning and autonomy.