|The Leading Source for Global News and Information Covering the Ecosystem of High Productivity Computing / October 12, 2007|
ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 8 -- For the past three months, five teams of university students have been using their computer programming skills to deploy what they hope will be the winning robots in the Robotics Competition to be held as part of the 2007 Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference. The Tapia 2007 Conference will take place October 14-17, 2007 in Orlando, Florida with the theme of "Passion in Computing -- Diversity in Innovation."
Tapia 2007 is organized by the Coalition to Diversify Computing and co-sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery and the IEEE Computer Society, in cooperation with the Computing Research Association.
Although this is the fourth conference in the series, 2007 marks the first time the Robotics Competition will be held. Five teams of students representing four universities in the United States and Canada made the final cut and will send their robots out on simulated "search and rescue" missions at the conference.
The competition will be preceded by an invited talk on "Multi-Robot Intelligence" by Manuela Veloso, the Herbert A. Simon Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Veloso is an internationally recognized expert in robotics and the winner of a number of robotics competitions. Veloso will be honored at the Tapia Celebration as the first Ken Kennedy Distinguished Lecturer, which recognizes outstanding research by an individual in a computing discipline.
The Tapia 2007 Robotics Competition is adapted from a class taught by Chad Jenkins, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Brown University, in which students program robots to perform search-and-rescue types of tasks. Jenkins is co-chairing the competition with Jeff Forbes, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Computer Science at Duke University. Some of the teams will be using Create robots provided by iRobot, which makes small robots capable of carrying out a number of tasks.
"Because each team is starting with virtually the same hardware, the Robotics Competition comes down to being a test of programming skills, and how well the students can design an integrated robot system that can maneuver around a number of obstacles to reach certain objectives," said Prof. Jenkins.
The five teams are:
In order to qualify for the competition in Orlando, the teams first had to use the Player software package to program a virtual robot to seek out objects in a simulated disaster environment. At the conference, the student teams will field robots equipped with a camera and touch sensors.
Each robot will autonomously search for and visit a number of marked but unknown locations (or "survivors") in a given environment. Upon identifying and reaching each survivor, a robot should make a simulated call for help.
More information about the Robotics Competition, and links to a number of resources, can be found at http://www.cs.duke.edu/csed/tapia07/.
About the Tapia Conference Series
The Tapia conference series honors the significant contributions of Dr. Richard A. Tapia, University Professor and Maxfield-Oshman Professor in Engineering in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He is internationally known for his research in computational and mathematical sciences and is a national leader in education and outreach programs. Tapia has authored or co-authored two books and more than 100 mathematical research papers. In addition to his academic positions, he is also Director of Rice's Center for Excellence and Equity in Education. This year's conference theme is "Passion in Computing, Diversity in Innovation."
The Tapia 2007 Conference enjoys the financial support of a number of academic, research and business organizations at several levels:
For more information about the Tapia 2007 Conference, visit the Web site at http://www.richardtapia.org/2007/.