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Report on the 2000 ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and the Computer Information Engineering Conference

By Ilian Bonev

The 26th Biennial Mechanisms and Robotics Conference was held in Baltimore, Maryland on September 10-13 as part of the 2000 ASME International DETC/CIE. The event took place at Omni Inner Harbor Hotel, a relatively expensive and old hotel but conveniently situated in the very downtown. The conferences were chaired by Prof. Lung-Wen Tsai while the Technical Program Chairman was Prof. Clément Gosselin.

The Academic Program

Sunday morning, September 10, the conferences started with several tutorials given in parallel. Of particular interest was the Applications of Screw System Theory and Lie Theory to Spatial Kinematics, presented by Prof. Vijay Kumar, Prof. Ken Waldron, Prof. Greg Chirikjian, and Prof. Harvey Lipkin. The tutorial attracted a relatively large number of international attendees despite its three-hour duration and the jet lag (particularly harsh for our Asian colleagues).

A large number of papers on parallel manipulators with a strong emphasis on practical issues were presented in series during six sessions starting from Monday morning and ending on Tuesday noon. The sessions attracted distinguished researchers such as Prof. Joseph Duffy, Prof. Lung-Wen Tsai, Prof. Clément Gosselin (presenting eight papers with a bunch of his students), Prof. Moshe Shoham, Prof. Marco Ceccarelli, Prof. Vincenzo Parenti-Castelli, and several others.

Tuesday afternoon, an interesting special session on Rapid Prototyping of Mechanisms and Robotic Systems was held, organized by Prof. Constantinos Mavroidis and Prof. Imme Ebert-Uphoff. Six papers were presented. The session was ignited with the presentation of Thierry Laliberté and Prof. Clément Gosselin and their demonstration of a dozen of parallel mechanisms made by rapid prototyping.

The Tours and Receptions

The opening reception was held on Sunday evening at Johns Hopkins University. Next evening, a University of Maryland reception was given at the Omni Hotel. Tuesday late afternoon, a University of Maryland tour was organized. Demonstrations of several student projects were part of the program, followed by a brief reception offered by the Faculty of Engineering, and a tour of the campus. Unfortunately, neither of the several parallel manipulators at UMD were shown. Finally, for the remaining enthusiasts, a tour to the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory at NIST was made on Wednesday afternoon. The tour included demonstrations of the Ingersoll's Octahedral Hexapod by Al Wavering and of the NIST's RoboCrane by Roger Bostelman.

The Awards

On Monday, a luncheon for the Mechanisms Conference attendees was given at which a number of awards were presented (though some of them virtual, due to blunders in the fabrication and delivery of the real trophies). Some of the awards included the Mechanisms Comitte Award presented to Prof. Jorge Angeles, the Mechanisms Comitte Best Paper Award, received by the same, the DED Outstanding Design Educator Award given to Prof. Bernard Roth, and the DED Machine Design Award presented to Prof. Joseph Duffy.

The Venue

Baltimore, the largest city in Maryland, with its population of slightly less than a million, is a major seaport and industrial center. Largely rebuilt after a fire in 1904, it is famous for its white-stepped, red-brick row houses. Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College are among the city's many educational institutions. The city's points of interest include the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Inner Harbor area, including the U.S.S. Constellation and the National Aquarium, the nation's third oldest zoo, and the Maryland Science Center.

The Next BMRC

Overall, the conference was well organized, with an increased participation rate and quite a few of tours. The standards are raised for the next Biennial Mechanisms and Robotics Conference that will be held in Montreal in 2002. Its organizers, though, should not be too much worried, as some of their obvious advantages to offer are lower cost and better venue with a much larger international airport and countless cultural features. Possible activities may well include a tour to the Canadian Space Agency, a tour to the CAE with a demonstration of its flight simulators, a visit to the Centre for Intelligent Machines at McGill, and a visit to the robotics lab at Laval University in Quebec city.

Copyright © 2000 by Ilian Bonev Last Update: September 18, 2000