RSS 2023 Workshop: Lowering barriers for robotics research

Half day workshop, Friday July 14, 1:30pm-6pm

Call for participation

Key deadlines


Though robots themselves have been consistently getting cheaper, more available, and easier to use in recent years, robotics research and development (as presented at RSS and similar conferences) has conversely become less accessible with higher costs and infrastructure dependencies. In this workshop, we bring together roboticists and stakeholders interested in broadening the demographics of those who contribute to robotics research. We will discuss ongoing and upcoming efforts towards lowering barriers to participation, converging on key action items—individually and for the community as a whole—that can increase access to robotic creation.


Robots of the future should be built by, reflect, work with and support all humans, not just a select few. Creating such a diverse robot pantheon starts with improving access to ongoing robotics research and discourse today. We can do this by identifying various barriers, including cost, thinking about and championing approaches that challenge our existing notions of what counts as acceptable/relevant robotics research, and ensuring that adjacents fields from education to manufacturing to health are interested in a robotics future for all. This workshop focuses on these goals.

Tentative workshop schedule

We will adopt a hybrid online format to include remote contributions and participation throughout talks, poster highlights, Q&A, demos where possible, and group discussions.

Relevance and impact

It is increasingly evident that research and engineering directions and outcomes are deeply correlated to the researchers and engineers that generate such contributions—participation begets perspective. And so it is increasingly important to effect broader participation in the development process, bringing additional voices into the story that is robotics research. Our workshop aims to launch a discussion on expectations and assumptions of the RSS/robotics community that present barriers to entry for aspiring roboticists, limiting participation in a way that serves to diminish the long-term growth of diversity in content at RSS overall. We gather current roboticists that have seen and explored these barriers, together with people who are not yet a part of our broader community that are impacted by those barriers. We will discuss ongoing efforts that represent the current state-of-the-art, along with potential future efforts to redefine what it means to be state-of-the-art, to ultimately move closer towards a vision where anyone—everyone—can be a robot maker contributing to future conferences.

Participant interaction

The workshop aims to bring together researchers that actively work on low-cost alternatives to typically expensive tools used in robotics research, and potential users that might find interest in them. In place of a generic workshop format, we plan to ask the workshop contributors to bring demos and kits that could be shared among workshop participants. We will also coordinate “play-testing” of these kits to allow for experiential discussions. That is, the interactions among participants including speakers will not only be via presentations, but also via sharing experiences with low-cost robotic demos, lowering the barriers in robotics research.

Workshop organizers