Roundup of ICRA 2024, Robotics of the Future…Impacting Today

ICRA 2024 was the biggest and busiest ICRA conference to date. With over 7000 robotics professionals, business and academics taking part during the 5 day event. ICRA is the IEEEs International Conference on Robotics and Automation. It took place at Pacifico, Yokohama, Japan from 13th-17th May. 

The event shared the latest research and findings in robotics and automation and included a range of workshops and tutorial sessions, forums, exhibitions, robot competitions and a range of social events.

This year’s conference theme was “CONNECT+,” reflecting the conference’s aim of helping to build relationships and potential collaborations with participants within and outside their field of study.

One of the first themes of the event were competitions. Rather than these being in a separate hall, like in London, this year the competitions were available for all to access as part of the exhibition hall. From racing cars, to preparing food there was a competition for all types of robotics. One of the new showcases was the “Bots and Bentos” competition where teams from all over the globe came to see who could build the best “box-based” robot from scratch before the end of the conference.

Not all competitions were on the exhibition floor as many of the most prestigious prizes held the finals in the conference center, such as the IERA award. This Innovation and Entrepreneurship award recognises the entrepreneurial commercialisation of ideas into actual products.

This years qualifying finalists were: Realtime Robotics, Inc., Youibot Robotics, Fourier Intelligence and NEURA Robotics

The awards committee comprised of representatives from both IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and International Federation of Robotics . The judges were Alexander Verl, University of Stuttgart, Francesco Ferro, of PAL Robotics, Takayuki Ito of FANUC CORPORATION, 🙃 Geoffrey Biggs of Open Robotics, Joanne Wong of IEEE Entrepreneurship and Christine Fraser, Asimovo. 

In addition to the many technical workshops it was an honor for Christine Fraser,Asimovo’s CEO to organise and chair the IEEE RAS Industry Activities Board’s Entrepreneurship exchange workshop. This workshop focused on sharing the knowledge from the Manufacturing checklist.  Three guest speakers talked through their experiences, followed by an engaging Q&A with the 50 or so attendees. 

There were many new discussions and technical presentations throughout the conference. However one thing most will not forget will be the “Robot Walk”. A parade of about 40 different robots walking/rolling/sliding together down the exhibition space. Closely watched by approx 1500 people and 1500 recording mobile phones!

There was also a growing buzz about the ICRA@40 – the 40th anniversary celebration of ICRA. an event focusing on celebrating the past 40 years of robotics, and looking forward to what the next 40 may bring! This anniversary addition is happening in Rotterdam, The Netherlands from 23-26th September – so that is only 4 months to do until the next ICRA.