Kamilah Taylor
ICRA has begun and ended. Here are my highlights from the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2009. Located in Kobe, Japan, there were definitely perks to being able to present at this year’s ICRA.
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This ICRA should be subtitled ICRA, the Swine Flu Edition. Throughout the conference, they kept trying to convince us to wear masks. You can see all the people at the registration desk are wearing masks. I don’t know if you’ve ever worn one of those masks, but you feel feverish very quickly, which I’d think is not the point. So the first day of technical talks, maybe 40 or 50% of the attendants were wearing masks, then it decreased exponentially until the Awards Ceremony on the third day, where they informed us that a schoolgirl in Kobe had swine flu. I’d hope she didn’t catch it from a conference attendant, because there’s a dubious connection there that I’d rather not think about…
So besides swine flue, where do I begin? I mean there were talks by famous guys, like Jean Paul Laumond and Oussama Khatib -
- and those were enjoyable. Of course the talk where the presenter had a slide with readymade question buttons -
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- where someone asked a question, then he clicked question 2 and read the answer, that was hilarious, I kinda wish I’d thought of that. Then there were all the cool robots, and this ICRA being in Japan seemed to bring out the best of them, from the ones I already knew, like the Sony Aibo and the yellow chicks (saw those last year),

and one that I saw last year but didn’t know it’s full potential.
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When I saw this robot at last year’s ICRA, I thought it just danced. I had no idea that it could speak in several languages and recite poetry.
The Robotis people had a lot of robots there, one of which reminded me of a spider. There was also a dog doing tricks and some hands.

There was this metallic slightly intimidating robot, which mimicked what you hands do.
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Then there was a robot organizing blocks -

- and some passive walking robots.

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Hands down, this little seal was my favorite robot at ICRA. If you listen to the video carefully, you can hear her cooing when you scratch her head or under her head.

But ICRA is very much about the connections you make, and what better way to make them by embarassing yourself singing karaoke or going on a futile search for a glass restaurant on top of a mountain?
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I jest. ICRA is actually all about watching your professors rock out, like Seth Hutchinson, from the RASOR.
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Ok ok, ICRA is about the kick ass banquet food?
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Don’t let that last glass fool you, it isn’t the water I requested, it’s sake. Apparently there was a no non-alcoholic drink policy. Explains why I sang so many karaoke songs that night.
Well, that’s my summary of ICRA. Took way longer than I thought it would, mostly because of all the videos I think. I wonder if my summary next year will be as long – hopefully I’ll be there at ICRA 2010, Anchorage, Alaska, USA! Then I’ll get to see Alaska and Russia all at once.
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