Keynote Speakers

Prof. Giovanni Muscato, SMIEEE

Università degli Studi di CATANIA, Italy

Biography: Giovanni Muscato received the Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Catania, in 1988. After completing graduation, he was with the Centro di Studi sui Sistemi, Turin, Italy. In 1990 he won the position of researcher in Automatic Control in the University of Catania. In 1991 he won a “Fulbright” fellowship. In July-August 1991 he was visiting researcher in the University of New Mexico working on “Robust Control”, In September 1992 he was visiting researcher at the Waseda university (Tokyo) Japan working on “Neural Networks”. In 1998 he becomes Associate Professor at the University of Catania. In September 2000 he was visiting professor at the University Picardie Jule Verne, San Quentin (France) working on “Mobile robotics”. In 2005 he won the position of Full Professor at the University of Catania.
He regularly holds several courses of the Engineering Faculty of the University of Catania in topics regarding Automatic Control, System theory and Robotics. He regularly follows as supervisor Master students (more than two hundred till now) and PhD students (more than ten till now).
The scientific research activity regarded several theoretical and experimental topics mainly concerning automatic control and robotics. From this activity he has published more than 250 articles in congress proceedings and in national and international journals, four books and two patents.
He was local responsible of several national research projects as ROBINSPEC: A robot for industrial inspection, TECSIS PON (2002-2005), PRIN PICTURE (Motion control of innovative locomotion systems and navigation in unstructured environments” (2004-2006), RI4.2 “Innovative methods for the adoption of ICU in robotics” FAR 2 MIUR (2002-2006), “Study design and building of a robot for automatic artichoke harvesting”, funded by Regione Siciliana. As regard European projects he was the coordinator of the project ROBOVOLC (5FP) where a robot for volcanic inspections was designed built and tested. He was also local coordinator of the european projects: CLAWAR 2 (Climbing and Walking Robots), EUROBOT (Robotic educational events to promote a dissemination of science and technology among young people in Europe), RAPOLAC (Rapid Production of Large Aerospace Components), MOW-BY-SAT (Mowing the lawn by satellite), TIRAMISU (Toolbox Implementation for Removal of Anti-personnel Mines, Submunitions and UXO). Moreover he was responsible of several grants with local and national companies for the development of robotic systems.
In 2003 he organised as General Chairman the international conference CLAWAR 2003 and in 2006 the finals of the international robotic competition EUROBOT.
He is in the editorial board of several journals and in the International committee of many robotic conferences. He is expert reviewer of the European Commission of the Italian Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico and of the MIUR.
He is senior member of the IEEE Control & System Society and of the IEEE Robotics & Automation society.
He is in the board of trustees of the CLAWAR Association. He is in the board of directors of the Distretto Tecnologico Sicilia Micro e nano Sistemi and is one of the founder of the Spin-Off Etnamatica S.r.l.

Title of Speech: UAV UGV cooperation for the exploration of rough environments 

Abstract: In difficult environments the motion of an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) can be extremely hard. In this case, the adoption of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) cooperating with the UGV, can help to oversee a wider area and to better plan the UGV trajectories.
This talk will present some approaches to increase the capabilities of mobile vehicles in rough environments. In particular three different results will be discussed:
- A strategy that makes a quadcopter UAV able to follow a ground mobile robot autonomously, by means of a vision tracking algorithm. In this way, during teleoperation the operator should control the ground vehicle only, while the UAV flies autonomously over the operation area.
- The adoption of aerial vehicles to perform a survey of the region of interest at different level of details. On the basis of the aerial images acquired, a terrain surface model is built and a terrain traversability analysis is performed, taking into account the specific navigation features of the considered ground vehicle.
- Autonomous landing of the UAV on a moving UGV so that the UAV batteries can be recharged to increase the total duration of a mission.
The developed strategies, the algorithms, the hardware and software architectures and several experimental results will be shown for the different approaches. In particular, the application areas have regarded volcanic exploration, landslide monitoring and humanitarian demining.




Assoc. Prof. Pinhas Ben-Tzvi, SMIEEE

Director, VT Robotics and Mechatronics Laboratory
Core Faculty, Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems (VaCAS)
Virginia Tech, USA

Biography: Dr. Pinhas Ben-Tzvi is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the founding Director of the Robotics and Mechatronics Laboratory at Virginia Tech. He received the B.S. degree (Summa Cum Laude) in Mechanical Engineering from the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology in 2000 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto, in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Before joining University of Toronto in 2002, he was an R&D engineer at General Electric Medical Systems Company developing medical diagnostic robotic and mechatronic systems. Dr. Ben-Tzvi's current research interests are in robotics & intelligent autonomous systems, human-robot interactions, mechatronics, systems dynamics and control, mechanism design and system integration, and novel sensing and actuation. Examples of research application areas and projects include autonomous mobile robots with symbiosis of locomotion and manipulation and modular & reconfigurable mobile robotics for search & rescue and hazardous environment sensing and monitoring; design of intelligent biomimetic robotic tails for robust dynamic stabilization and agile maneuvering of mobile/legged robots on rough terrain; autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launch and recovery from naval vessels; haptics devices and upper-extremity exoskeletons for tele-operation and medical diagnostics and therapeutic purposes such as rehabilitation therapy; and novel smart sensors and actuators for biomedical applications. His research program has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Office of Naval Research (ONR), United States Navy (USN), United Sates Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC), and US Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVO). He has authored and co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and refereed papers in conference proceedings and is the named inventor on at least twelve U.S. patents and patent applications and a Canadian patent directed to various robotic technologies and devices. He is the recipient of the 2013 GW SEAS Outstanding Young Researcher Award and the 2013 GW SEAS Outstanding Young Teacher Award, as well as several other honors and awards including best paper awards and is active in the professional community, such as organizing conferences and workshops. Dr. Ben-Tzvi is a Technical Editor for the IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, Associate Editor for IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, and Associate Editor for the Int'l Journal of Control, Automation and Systems, and served as an Associate Editor for IEEE ICRA 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Dr. Ben-Tzvi is a senior member of IEEE and a member of ASME.

Title of Speech: Novel Field Robots and Robotic Exoskeletons: Design, Integration and Applications 

Abstract: As natural and man-made disasters occur, from earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes to chemical spills and nuclear meltdowns, there is a need for field robotic systems that are able to respond in these hazardous and dangerous environments. This talk will start with presenting a novel hybrid mechanism robot whereby the locomotion and manipulation platforms are designed as one entity to support both locomotion and manipulation symbiotically. Experimental results demonstrate the robot’s unique capabilities, such as traversing challenging obstacles and manipulating heavy payloads; functions often required in challenging applications, such as search & rescue and exploring dangerous environments. This talk will then present the extension of this research to new designs of self-reconfigurable and modular field mobile robots that can actively bond multiple robotic agents into hybrid formations. The formations enable scalable mobility and manipulation configurations to accomplish tasks that would otherwise be difficult with a single robotic module or with a fixed-structure mobile robot. Recent progress on the design and integration of semi-autonomous victim extraction robots will also be presented. The talk will also describe recent results on the design and control of bio-inspired robotic tails capable of stabilizing and maneuvering legged robots, including novel bipedal and quadrupedal robotic platforms that are also being developed in the Robotics and Mechatronics Lab. Finally, I will describe our research on robotic exoskeletons for applications including gesture-based mobile robot tele-operation and upper-extremity hand rehabilitation. Time permitting, I will describe ongoing research on autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) safe launch and recovery from naval vessels with a wireless instrumentation system for sensing and monitoring ship air wake.  



ICMSCE2017 Keynote Speakers

Prof. Kimon P. Valavanis, Fellow, AAAS

John Evans Professor and Chair, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Director, DU Unmanned Systems Research Institute (DU2SRI)
Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science
University of Denver, USA

Biography: Dr. Kimon P. Valavanis received his PhD from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 1986. He is John Evans Professor and Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, University of Denver. He is also the Founding Director of the DU Unmanned Systems Research Institute (DU2SRI). He holds a Guest Professorship in the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, Department of Telecommunications, University of Zagreb, Croatia. He was also invited through the European Union PhD Research Program in Italy to teach Robotics and Unmanned Systems at the Dipartimento di Ingegneria Informatica, Gestionale e dell’ Automazione, Universitά Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy. He is a member of the Advisory Board of European Union (EU) funded projects.
He has graduated 35 PhD students and more than 80 M.Sc. students. He has attracted and has helped attracting more than $50M in research funds from Federal and State agencies, industry and the private sector. While in Europe, he was funded by the Greek Secretariat of Research and Technology, the European Union, industry, and from the Croatian Ministry of Science and Technology (joint projects). Dr. Valavanis' research interests focus on the areas of Unmanned Systems, Distributed Intelligence Systems, Robotics and Automation. He has published close to 400 book chapters, technical journal/transaction, referred conference papers, invited papers and technical reports. He has authored, co-authored and/or edited 16 books including: On Integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the National Airspace System: Issues, Challenges, Operational Restrictions, Certification, and Recommendations (with K. Dalamagkidis and L. A. Piegl), Springer 2009, with a 2nd Edition published in 2012; Linear and Nonlinear Control of Small Scale Unmanned Rotorcraft (I. A. Raptis, K. P. Valavanis), Springer, 2012; Handbook of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) (editors, K. P. Valavanis, G. J. Vachtsevanos), Springer, 2015, which is the only one published worldwide – a five-Volume Handbook that includes all aspects of UAVs. He also holds several patents in the area of unmanned aerial vehicles.
He served as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions in Robotics and Automation from 2/1996-2/1999, as the Robotics and Automation Society “Discrete Event Dynamic Systems Technical Committee” co-Chair for two years, and as an Associate Editor of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Magazine from 1994 to 1995. He was Editor-in-chief of the same Magazine for ten years (1996-2005). He was Book Review Editor of the Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems (JINT) until 2006, and since then, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief of JINT. He also serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the International Series on Microprocessor Based and Intelligent Systems Engineering Series published by Springer. He served as a member of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Awards Committee for three years, and serves as co-chair/chair of the Aerial Robotics and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Technical Committee (2008 - present).
Dr. Valavanis has received invitations by the European Union to be an evaluator of IP and STREP projects as part of the 7th European Union (EU) Framework Programme for Research and Technology Development (FP7) – Information and Communication Technologies (ICT-2009.2.1 Cognitive Systems and Robotics), and he also served as a member of the Hearing Committee panel in Luxemburg. He is an appointed Scientific Project Reviewer in projects financed by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia and in research projects evaluated by the Italian Evaluation of Research Quality exercise (VQR 2004-2010). Dr. Valavanis has been on the organizing committee of many conferences, serving as General, Program, Registration, Local Arrangements Chair.
He has established the ICUAS Association, Inc., which organizes the annual International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS) and has served as General Chair of the ICUAS, which he started in 2008. In 1998, he was elected as Vice President – Administration of the Mediterranean Control Association (MCA).
Dr. Valavanis was a Distinguished Speaker in the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (- 2003), a Senior Member of IEEE and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also a Fulbright Scholar (Senior Lecturing & Research Award).  



Prof. Scott E. Evans 

Director, Longhorn Maker Studios
Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin, USA


Biography: R. Scott Evans, Ph.D., is the Director of the Longhorn Maker Studios, with a vision to be an innovation commons in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He works to develop engineering curriculum, create great collaborative innovation spaces, support engineering needs across campus, blur the lines between coursework and engineering practice and build a culture of innovation. Dr. Evans has designed and built manufacturing processes in many industry sectors, created R&D programs, founded materials science startups, served as an innovation consultant to engineering companies in several countries and developed multi-disciplinary technology commercialization courses. Dr. Evans studied mechanical engineering at The University of Arizona, The Georgia Institute of Technology (researching MEMS devices) and The University of Texas (researching additive manufacturing) earning a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. respectively.




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