IEEE Robotics and Automation Society IEEE

Industry Forum

Wednesday, May 27
WSCC 604

The industry forum brings together academic, industry and government participants to discuss topics at the intersection of academia and industry, with the aim of strengthening ties, building networks, and fostering entrepreneurship in robotics and automation. This year's edition of the industry forum will include sessions on Tech Transfer from Academia to Industry and Transitioning from Academia to Industry. The forum will feature talks by leading academic researchers who have successfully transferred their research into commercial products or spinoff companies, as well as leading industry roboticists sharing their insights on transitioning from academia to industry. Both sessions will also include a panel discussion to discuss successful paths to tech transfer and academia-industry collaboration, and the diversity of career paths in robotics, including transitions between academia and industry. The forum will also feature the award ceremony of the IEEE/IFR Invention & Entrepreneurship Award for Outstanding Achievements in Commercializing Innovative Robot and Automation Technology (IERA Award).


09:00-09:15 Registration & Technical Equipment Check
09:15-09:25 Welcome & Introduction
Aude Billard, Dana Kulic, Angelika Peer, Yuru ZhangIndustry Forum Organizers
Raj Madhavan, Vice President IEEE RAS Industrial Activities Board
09:25-10:30 Presentation by IEEE/RAS-IFR Award Finalists
09:25-09:45: 1st Finalist - JACO Rehab edition, François Boucher, Kinova, Canada
09:45-10:05: 2nd Finalist - Q-Bot, Tom Lipinski, Q-Bot, UK
10:05-10:25: 3rd Finalist - GoPlan+ - System for Continuous Optimizing Multi-Robot On-line-Pathplanning in Industrial Applications, Bjoern Hein, GFRT, Germany
10:30-11:00 Coffee break
11:00-12:50 Morning Session: Tech Transfer from Academia to Industry
Chair: Yuru Zhang, Beihang University; Co-Chair: Aude Billard, EPFL
11:00-11:30: Blake Hannaford, University of Washington
11:30-12:00: Heike Vallery, Delft University
12:00-12:30: Zexiang Li, Robotics Institute, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
12:30-12:50: Panel with speakers of morning session
12:50-13:30 Standing lunch offered for participants and speakers
14:30-16:30 Afternoon Session: Transitioning from Academia to Industry
Chair: Dana Kulic, University of Waterloo; Co-Chair: Aude Billard, EPFL
14:30-15:00: Hong Z. Tan, Microsoft Research Asia
15:00-15:30: Leila Takayama, Google[x]
15:30-16:00: Nicola Tomatis, BlueBotics
16:00-16:30: Panel with speakers of afternoon session
16:30-17:15 Reception for participants and panelists



Aude Billard, Ecole Polytechniuque Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Dana Kulic, University of Waterloo
Angelika Peer, University of the West of England Bristol
Yuru Zhang, Beihang University


Raven-II - The transition from research to start-up

Blake Hannaford
University of Washington

Abstract: In the early 2000's, surgeons began to adopt commercial surgical robotic systems from pioneering companies such as Computer Motion and Intuitive Surgical. With the success of these robots in the health care market, researchers became interested in the space but a need was exposed for a research platform suitable for advanced pre-clinical research in a realistic context of surgical robotics. The high cost and closed nature of commercial systems (dictated by regulatory and safety requirements) impeded their usefulness to researchers in computer science and control engineering (for example). The Raven II system, originally developed in a multi-disciplinary collaboration as such a research platform, was scaled out, first in the University and then via a startup company Applied Dexterity Inc. Raven-II researchers collaborate with a common hardware platform and a fully open-source software stack. There are now 16 Raven systems in use at research labs around the world.

Biography: Blake Hannaford, Ph.D., is Professor of Electrical Engineering, Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Surgery at the University of Washington. He received the B.S. degree in Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University in 1977, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. From 1986 to 1989 he worked on the remote control of robot manipulators in the Man-Machine Systems Group in the Automated Systems Section of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech and supervised that group from 1988 to 1989. Since September 1989, he has been at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he is Professor of Electrical Engineering. He was awarded the National Science Foundation's Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Early Career Achievement Award from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, and was named IEEE Fellow in 2005. His currently active interests include surgical robotics, surgical skill modeling, and haptic interfaces. He is currently splitting his time between UW, spinout company Applied Dexterity Inc., and Google Life Sciences (Mountain View Ca.).

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Tech Transfer or People Transfer?

Zexiang Li 
Robotics Institute, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Abstract: Inspired by the early success of Taiwan’s ITRI (Industry Technology Research Institute) system, Hong Kong established ASTRI (Applied Science and Technology Research Institute), hoping to conduct applied research and then to transfer them to local companies. Other places/cities in the Asia Pacific region have established similar types of organizations. This “Tech transfer” type of innovation models may be effective in providing support to existing industries, its impact on stimulating/fostering new companies/ industries is rather limited. Over the last 15 years or so, there have been a number of startups from my own lab, including Googol Tech, a leading motion control company in China, DJI, a global leader in drone products, QKM, an emerging leader of industry robotic systems for 3C manufacturing and ePropulsion, a provider of electric outboard systems. Experience from these examples indicate that “people transfer” or more specifically “student transfer” is much more effective in terms of value creation. Based on these experiences and the amazing manufacturing ecosystem in Southern China, we created a robotic startup facility in Songshan Lake to facilitate the “people transfer” type of innovations. The facility is open to robotic startup teams from the whole robotics community.

Biography: Zexiang Li received his BS degree from CMU and PhD in EECS from UC Berkeley. In 1992, he joined HKUST and co-founded ATC and RI. He became an IEEE Fellow in 2008 and is the author of more than 100 papers, and four books.

Zexiang Li co-founded Googol Technology, DJI, QKM, ePropulsion, SSL Robotic Startup Center and the Clearwater Bay Venture Capital for robotic startups.

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Just a Few of the Many Flavors of Impact

Leila Takayama

Biography: Leila Takayama is a senior user experience researcher at Google[x], a Google lab that aims for moonshots in science and technology. Prior to joining Google[x] in 2013, Leila was a research scientist and area manager for human-robot interaction at Willow Garage. She is also a World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council Member for the area of AI & Robotics. In 2012, she was named a TR35 winner and one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company.

With a background in cognitive Science, psychology, and human-computer Interaction, she examines human encounters with new technologies. Dr. Takayama completed her PhD in communication at Stanford University in June 2008, advised by Professor Clifford Nass. She also holds a PhD minor in psychology from Stanford, a master's degree in communication from Stanford, and bachelor's of arts in psychology and cognitive science from UC Berkeley (2003). During her graduate studies, she was a research assistant in the User Interface Research (UIR) group at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

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So You Want to Make a Product

Hong Z. Tan
Human Computer Interaction Group, Microsoft Research Asia
Purdue University (on research leave)

Biography: Hong Z. Tan is a Senior Researcher and Research Manager at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, China. She is currently on leave from Purdue University where she is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering with courtesy appointments in Mechanical Engineering and Psychological Sciences. She is known internationally as a leading expert on haptics psychophysics, taking a perception-based approach to solving engineering problems. Tan has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal and conference articles in haptics research. She is frequently invited to give keynote speeches at international conferences and research institutions, educating a broad audience on haptics and its emerging applications in human computer interaction, robotics, medicine and education.

Tan received her Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, P.R. China. She earned her Master and Doctorate degrees, both in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She was a Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab before joining the faculty at Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1998. She has held a McDonnell Visiting Fellowship at Oxford University, a Visiting Associate Professorship in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University, a Guest Researcher position in the Institute of Life Science and Technology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and a Visiting Researcher position at Microsoft Research Asia.

Tan was a recipient of the prestigious US National Science Foundation's Early Faculty Development (CAREER) Award, and she was a Chinese National Natural Science Funds' Distinguished (Overseas) Young Scholar. In addition to serving on numerous program committees, she was a co-organizer (with Blake Hannaford) of the Haptics Symposium from 2003 to 2005, the founding chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Haptics (TCH) in 2006, played a key role in launching the IEEE Transactions on Haptics (ToH) in 2008, served as a ToH associate editor since the journal's birth and received a Meritorious Service Award in 2012, and currently a co-chair (with Ed Colgate) of the 2015 World Haptics Conference (WHC) and the editor-in-chief of the 2015 WHC Editorial Board.

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Markets, successes and gaps in robotics

Nicola Tomatis

Abstract: Academia is creating a lot of value in robotics. However, this value is only marginally reaching the market. Especially in service robotics, only few applications have transformed into successful markets. Why? What are the successful markets? Where are the gaps? How can one market high-tech products?

Biography: Nicola Tomatis (1973) received his M.Sc. in computer science in 1998 from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich and his Ph.D. in robotics in 2001 from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) Lausanne. He then had a part time position as senior researcher with the Autonomous Systems Lab, EPFL (now ETH). During 2001 he joined BlueBotics SA as R&D manager and he is CEO of the company since 2003. Nicola received the IEEE-RAS Early Career Award in Robotics and Automation in 2008, he was listed in the 20 startup leaders making Switzerland by the Swiss business magazine Bilan in 2009, and has been listed in the 300 most influential people of Switzerland by the same magazine in 2010 and 2012. [BlueBotics Videos]

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Tech Transfer of Transparent Gait Rehabilitation Robots: Responding to the Market Pull

Heike Vallery
Delft University

Abstract: Every year, more than 9 million people suffer a stroke, and 40% of stroke survivors are unable to walk independently three weeks after the incident. This generates a strong market pull for technological solutions that can promote recovery. In particular, it is known that active training is a key ingredient to regain gait and balance skills, and interactive robotics can facilitate such training in a safe environment, where subjects dare to push the limits of their capabilities. This talk will present robotic concepts that meet this demand, and it will particularly address how these concepts are transferred back to the clinical environment in the form of products.

Biography: Heike Vallery received her Dipl.-Ing. degree in Mechanical Engineering from RWTH Aachen University in 2004 and her Dr.-Ing. from the Technische Universität München in 2009, where she had worked on compliant actuation and cooperative control principles for gait rehabilitation robots. As a postdoc at the SMS Lab at ETH Zürich, she continued this research and developed several mechatronic principles for cooperative human-robot interaction. Based on these principles, she conceived a robot for overground gait training in rats, which enabled ground-breaking research on recovery after spinal cord injury at EPFL in Switzerland. She also established a research group on leg exoprosthetics. From 2011 to 2012, she worked at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi as an assistant professor. Since September 2012, she holds an assistant professorship at Delft University of Technology, and she also remains affiliated with ETH. Heike Vallery published more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and filed 5 patents in the area of robotic assistance for patients with gait disorders. She has received diverse fellowships and awards, most recently the 1st prize of the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2014 for the project “THE FLOAT”.

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