We recently spoke with Marco Imperoli from La Sapienza University of Rome about the upcoming RoCKIn2015 event. Here's what he had to say about their mission, vision and preparation for the final event!
Hello Marco - thank you for joining us today. To start with, could you give us a bit of background information on your team, its aims and mission?
I am PhD student and the other four members of the team are Master's students of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at La Sapienza University of Rome. Each of us are involved in different tasks - Harold and Valerio are working on the robot perception system, Daniele is developing the robot navigation framework and Ahmad is involved in the communication system, whilst I am dealing with the manipulation system. We are working in order to develop a complete system that is able to perform different industrial tasks. In particular, we are focusing on the TBM1 of the @Work competition.
What appeals to you about RoCKIn and how does it complement your research and personal development goals? What about robot competitions more generally?
In the RoCKIn competitions one can test and validate their own algorithms in very practical and challenging scenarios. This leads to great improvements and the development of innovative approaches.
Have you been involved in robotic competitions before? If so, what were some of the highlights for you?
Yes, I participated at the RoCKIn@Work2014, held in Toulouse last year. This experience was very useful for me and gave me the opportunity to work with a real robotic platform (the KUKA youBot). Thanks to the competition, I was faced with many different practical problems and I improved my knowledge about robot perception and navigation, amongst other areas.
What role do you think competitions have in furthering innovation in robotics?
I think that competitions play a fundamental role in furthering innovation in robotics for two reasons. They can foster the study and development of novel techniques in many different research fields. At the same time, these techniques are improved and adapted in order to work in practical scenarios.
How are your preparations for RoCKIn2015 going? What are you finding to be the most challenging areas?
We are working separately on different subsystems (perception, navigation, manipulation, planning and communication), but at the same time we have to cooperate in order to fuse them in a unique and complete framework. In my opinion, the most challenging area is the robot perception system. Considering the type of objects that are involved in the competition, the recognition and accurate localization of them is a very challenging problem. Innovative and robust approaches are required for solving it.
And finally, what do you think the future holds for industrial robotics?
With enhancements in computational power and sensing capabilities, robotics systems are becoming increasingly able to perform disparate tasks of different natures. This will provide a significant impact and benefit various domains. In particular, I'm sure that in the near future, service robotics systems will play a fundamental role in robot-aided manufacturing.
Thanks for your time Marco - we're looking forward to seeing you in Lisbon!