IEEE Robotics and Automation Society IEEE

Technical Tours

ICRA 2015 is pleased to organize several technical tours in the area. Below is the preliminary listing. Tour details are still evolving and will be updated here. Registration for the technical tours is handled through the conference registration system. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information.

Tuesday, May 26

Saturday, May 30

Blue Origin

Tuesday, May 26, 15:00–18:00

Blue Origin is a privately held company that is working to enable private human access to space at dramatically lower cost and increased reliability. We are currently focused on developing rocket-powered Vertical Takeoff and Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicles and technologies for access to suborbital and orbital space. A visit to the facility will include a brief presentation about ongoing projects and then a tour of the manufacturing and assembly floors.

Specifics: All visitors will be required to sign a Visitor Agreement and must be U.S. Citizens or permanent residents.  The tour includes bus transportation departing from and returning to the Washington Convention Center.

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Tuesday, May 26, 8:00–13:00

During the 90-minute Boeing tour, participants will be guided through the world’s largest building by volume (Disneyland would fit in the building). As guests walk through the factory, the tour guide will talk to them about what is happening in the factory and talk about the 747, 777, and 787; all of which will be seen during the tour. Good walking shoes are recommended for the tour and proper factory footwear is required for the tour. Shoes must cover the entire foot and high heels are not allowed. No pictures will be allowed inside the building and the use of cell phones during the tour will be limited.

Factory Facts:

  • Building covers 98 acres
  • The building is so big it has created its own weather system
  • The Everett Site is the largest operating site for The Boeing Company

Aircraft production systems have produced:

  • More than 1,500 747’s
  • Nearly 1,300 777’s
  • More than 1,050 767’s
  • More than 200 787’s

Specifics: U.S. Citizens only. Factory appropriate footwear required: feet completely covered with low, wide heels. No sandals, high heels or ballet flats. Athletic shoes recommended.  The tour includes bus transportation departing from and returning to the Washington Convention Center.

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Fred Hutchinson

Tuesday, May 26, 9:45 – 10:45

On this walking tour of our campus, visitors will learn about Fred Hutch's commitment to making life-saving discoveries, our history, and how our scientific breakthroughs have led to thousands of lives being saved worldwide.

Specifics: Tour is 60 minutes long.

Address: The address for the Yale Building is 823 Yale Avenue North, Seattle, WA, 98109. [Campus Map]

If you are taking public transit, see the public transit information page.

If you are driving, please park in the visitor parking lot (see above map) in front of the Yale Building and sign in at the Security/Transportation desk in the Yale Building lobby. After you have signed in, please call the tour leader at (206) 667-4211. There are phones in the lobby.

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VA Hospital

Tuesday, May 26, 13:00 - 16:00

Come tour the laboratories of the VA Rehabilitation R&D Center of Excellence for Limb Loss Prevention and Prosthetic Engineering! The Center's mission is to improve the quality of life and functional status of Veterans who are at risk for, or who have undergone, lower limb amputation.

We will provide a tour of labs working in biomechanics and advanced prosthetic and assistive technologies. The tour will include world-class gait analysis and tissue analysis labs and advanced robotic and prosthetic systems including the Robotic Gait Simulator, variable stiffness prostheses, the ACT Hand, the biplane fluoroscope, and more!

Specifics: The tour includes bus transportation departing from and returning to the Washington Convention Center.

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Saturday, May 30, TBD

Come get a behind the scenes look into Amazon’s global logistics network by touring one of our 8th generation fulfillment centers in nearby Sumner. This facility plays a key role in the development of Amazon robotics and other cutting edge technologies used on a daily basis.

Amazon, a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, Washington, is the global leader in e-commerce. Since Jeff Bezos started Amazon in 1995, we have significantly expanded our product offerings, international sites, and worldwide network of fulfillment and customer service centers. Today, Amazon offers everything from books and electronics to tennis rackets and diamond jewelry.

This tour will be 1 hour long. Sumner is a 40 minute drive from the Convention Center. Transportation will be provided. Please wear closed toed shoes. Participants will be required to sign non-disclosure agreements.

Note: This tour is for Picking Challenge participants. If we have extra spaces, other conference attendees can participate. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.

University of Washington

Saturday, May 30, 09:00-12:00

We welcome you to tour a variety of the robotics research laboratories at the University of Washington. The following labs will be open for visitors:

  • Nonlinear Dynamics and Control Lab (Morgansen, AERB 101): Research focuses on control and sensing methods for nonlinear and coordinated control systems. Current research topics include the integrated sensing and actuation for bio- inspired agile flight, fish-like propulsive methods for locomotion and active flow control, control of coordinated systems with communication constraints, vision-based sensing for state estimation, and integration of cognition in multi-agent systems.
  • Autonomous Flight Systems Lab (Lum/Vagners, AERB 139): The mission of the Autonomous Flight Systems Laboratory at the University of Washington is to support advances in guidance, navigation, and control (GN&C) technology relevant to autonomous vehicles and their payload. A parallel objective is to integrate this technology into the flight mechanics and controls courses in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics to provide students with experience and realistic GN&C systems.
  • Human-Centered Robotics Lab (Cakmak, AE 014): The work in this lab specializes in Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) and Programming by Demonstration (PbD). The goal of our research is to enable end-users of general-purpose personal robots to program new capabilities on their robots. In particular, we are interested in PbD in which users can achieve this by providing demonstrations of what they want. Our work investigates challenges faced by potential users of such programmable robots and develops interaction mechanisms, learning algorithms and interfaces to make PbD more efficient and effective.
  • Robotics and State Estimation Lab (Fox, AE 491): The RSE-Lab was established in 2001. We are interested in the development of computing systems that interact with the physical world in an intelligent way. To investigate such systems, we focus on problems in robotics and activity recognition. We develop rich yet efficient techniques for perception and control in mobile robot navigation, map building, collaboration, and manipulation. We also develop state estimation and machine learning approaches for areas such as object recognition and tracking, human robot interaction, and human activity recognition.
  • Sensor Systems Lab (Smith, EE 359): Our research aims to improve the connection of information systems to the physical world. The research has application in areas such as ubiquitous computing, robotics, wireless power, and medical devices. Some themes explored in the lab are alternative sensing systems not modeled on human perceptual systems, wireless power transmission, and brain computer interfacing.
  • Movement Control Laboratory (Todorov, AE 409): We are interested in the control of complex movements in animals and robots. Biological movements can be modeled in detail using optimality principles - which is not surprising given that they are shaped by iterative optimization processes such as evolution, learning, adaptation. Similarly, the best way to engineer a complex control system is to specify a high-level performance criterion and leave the details to numerical optimization. In both areas, the main difficulty lies in actually performing the optimization. Thus our focus is on developing more powerful methods for optimal control and applying them to harder problems. A key tool we use is the MuJoCo physics engine.
  • BioRobotics Lab (Chizeck/Hannaford, EE 461): The University of Washington’s BioRobotics Lab is home to a number of students and faculty dedicated to improving the lives of people through cyberphysical systems. Our mission is to develop science, technology, and human resources at the interface between robotics, control theory and the biological sciences. Our goal is to produce useful, innovative research and technology as well as trained researchers capable of driving technological advancement in medical and biological systems.
  • Applied Physics Laboratory (OCN East High Bay): The Applied Physics Lab (APL) at the University of Washing has a long history of developing oceanographic vehicles and system. APL and the School of Oceanography will have Seagliders, the Adaptable Monitoring Package (AMP), and the Millennium Falcon on display. The Univ. of Washington Seaglider is an autonomous underwater vehicle capable of collecting ocean data to a depth of 1000m with mission durations of over 6 months. It’s new cousin, the Deepglider (TM) is capable to 6000m deep. The Adaptable Monitoring Package (AMP) is a subsea observing node that incorporates an array of sensors to quantify environmental changes in areas with energetic conditions (high current or significant wave action). Developed for monitoring marine renewable energy sites, the AMP is deployed by the Millennium Falcon, a specialized robotic system with thrusters and actuators that carries the platform to a subsea docking station for precise integration and connection to a shore cable for power and data export. Come see the Seagliders, AMP, and Millennium Falcon on display and get a feel for what it takes to execute unmanned intervention strategies for long durations and in close proximity to marine energy converters in the extreme environment of the ocean.
  • Robotics, Aerospace, and Information Networks Lab (Mesbahi,Gug 315): Our group's research focuses on the analysis and synthesis of networked distributed autonomous systems operating in complex environments. We examine fundamental and theoretical questions at the intersection of control theory, optimization, networks, as well as guidance, navigation, and control issues for space, air, and ground robotic systems.
  • Boeing Advanced Research Center (Devasia, ME G031): The Boeing Advanced Research Center (BARC) is a 4300 sq. ft. facility housed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering at the University of Washington that fosters collaborative basic and applied research, translational research and development, and student education-related activities in the area of manufacturing and assembly of aircraft and spacecraft structures. These research and educational activities will lead to strong partnerships between UW and Industry.

Specifics: We welcome anyone else interested in the tour. Registration is only required for those using the provided bus. The tour includes complimentary bus transportation departing from and returning to the Washington Convention Center. Departure from the Washington Convention Center will be at 8:30am, and the bus will transfer back and forth from the university with a final departure from the university at noon. City buses can also be used to travel to and from the Washington Convention Center. City bus ticket cost: $2.75 each way. Locations of the labs are indicated on the map.

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