Debates on the Future of Robotics Research

Full-Day Workshop (Sun, May 31) at ICRA 2020

It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.

Joseph Joubert
  • Will raw computing power soon be more useful than human ingenuity for robotics research?
  • Who is poised to benefit from the recent surge of investment in modern AI and robotics research?

As an interdisciplinary field that has the potential to change and be changed by numerous diverse stakeholders, the future and potential impact of robotics research are frequent subjects of debate. However, these discussions have largely taken place at the margins of major technical events, whether as an outgrowth of panel discussions, over coffee breaks, or online.

After a successful debates workshop at ICRA 2019, a second edition of the debates will be held at ICRA 2020.

Lightning Talk Position Papers

We are seeking 1-2 page position papers (references included) to be presented during the Lightning Talks session for the Debates on Robotics Research workshop at ICRA 2020. Each paper must make an affirmative or negative argument about a salient issue or trend in robotics research. Papers may be drawn from previously published or otherwise existing work.

Each accepted paper will be given a 5 minute lightning talk during the workshop. Please refer to the 2019 lightning talk position papers for examples.

CMT Submission System Full Call for Papers
Submission Deadline April 10, 2020 (Midnight Pacific Time)
Author Notification April 17, 2020


  • The practicality of dual appointments in Academia
  • Should robotics conferences be abstract-refereed only?
  • Does robotics research rely too heavily on datasets?
  • Have self-driving vehicles surpassed the safety standards of human drivers?
  • What do we mean by safety in mobile autonomy?

Debate Participants

  • Prof. Hadas Kress-Gazit, Cornell
  • Prof. Sabine Hauert, University of Bristol
  • Prof. AJung Moon, McGill University
  • Prof. Michael Milford, Queensland University of Technology
  • Jen Dawson, Head of Safety at Nuro
  • Prof. Radhika Nagpal, Harvard
  • Prof. Ruzena Bajcsy, Berkeley
  • Dr. Aleksandra Faust, Google Brain Research
  • ..and more to be announced!

Organizing Committee

Lee Clement University of Toronto
Valentin Peretroukhin University of Toronto
Matthew Giamou University of Toronto
Sylvia Herbert UC, Berkeley
Brian Wang Cornell
Felix von Drigalski OMRON SINIC X
Prof. Florian Shkurti University of Toronto
Prof. Jonathan Kelly University of Toronto


Please address all inquiries and questions about the workshop to