The ISRR-2011 symposium took place 28 August – 1 September in Flagstaff, Arizona. ISRR is traditionally the gathering of senior researchers in robotics across all continents. The meeting has a mixture of 50% invited and 50% contributed presentations. The invited talks are selected by the 24 IFRR officers. The selection is based on an elaborate nominating/voting scheme. This year ISRR has 18 invited presentations across US, Asia and Europe. In addition, there were 23 contributed papers.

This year ISRR had 3 special sessions. The first special session was exploring “robotics beyond the horizon”. In the session a view to the future of robotics was presented by representatives from industry (KUKA and Willow Garage), organizations (EURON, RSJ, IEEE/RAS, and Robotic Task Force), and government agencies (NASA, NSF, OSTP, …). Great way to get a sense for where robotics is going. The session was coordinated by Prof. Inoue, the past president of IFRR and one of the founders of humanoid robotics. The second session was related to  robotics pioneers and had presentations on 50 years of robotics – successes, promises, and lessons. The session included many of the pioneers in robotics and their direct decedents (Y. Shirai, R. Jarvis, B. Bolles, H. Inoue, R. Chatila (f. George Giralt), P. Dario, and J. Hollerbach). Great perspective on robotics and how many of the challenges identified 10-15 years ago are still valid such as robust perception, grasping, human-robot interaction, … Impressive perspective by a very impressive set of people. Finally ISRR included a multi-media session where people had an opportunity to give a 5 minute summary of their paper and then a longer session where they interactively could discuss/present their research. This is a great way to get an overview and decide who you need to go see for an in-depth discussion. It was an experiment and certainly a model to be used for the future.

Overall ISRR had many very good presentations, the discussions (always built in the program) were very valuable and the social program enabled great interaction between junior and senior researchers. ISRR is deliberately a “small” meeting (<90 people) to facilitate rich interaction across participants.

The symposium also had a strong social component with excursions to the NASA JSC test facility outside of Flagstaff, a visit to Grand Canyon and an optional tour to Monument Valley.

The papers from ISRR will be updated and published in the Springer STAR series. The preliminary papers are available for download from the ISRR program page. In addition selected papers will be invited to a special issue of IJRR. Finally a number of pictures from ISRR are available from the photo page. 

The next ISRR will be 2013 in Australia organized by Peter Corke, QIT. The possible venue will be Ayers Rock or Port Douglas, both are fantastic places.

Oussama Khatib and I and most grateful for the participation and interaction at the ISRR-2011. We are already looking forward to the next meeting.