IEEE Robotics and Automation Society IEEE

Developing Countries Forum

Friday, May 29
WSCC 604

Interest in robotics is increasing in many parts of the world, and developing countries are no exception. From research projects aimed at developing novel robotic systems for unique challenges, to education and outreach programs that use robotics to enhance students' interest in STEM fields, the collection of robotics projects in developing countries provides a fascinating panorama of the potential and impact robotics can have around the world.

For the first time at ICRA 2015, a forum will be specifically dedicated to highlighting robotics work in developing countries. During this forum, invited speakers will speak on current trends in robotics research and education in developing countries, an interactive display at the conference will feature information on a diverse array of robotics projects in developing countries around the world, and opportunities will be provided for remote participation in these activities. Work from a wide range of categories will be featured in the interactive display, including but not limited to research, education, outreach, academic work, industry work, governmental work, and NGO work. Moreover, the interactive display will be launched at the conference but will sustain beyond the conference to connect the international community interested in this topic.

The forum at ICRA 2015 will allow for deeper interactions, both in person and via remote participation, with authors of selected projects highlighted in the interactive display, and with other relevant invited participants. Discussions will center on themes such as relevant applications, current trends and future directions of robotics in developing countries, opportunities and challenges of robotics work in developing countries, and opportunities for "south-south" as well as "north-south" collaboration in this context.

Opportunities for remote participate will attempt to ensure that every interested potential participant has an opportunity to be a part of this forum irrespective of location logistics. A number of options to make the remote participation possible are currently been explored. These include the following:

  1. remote conference access which includes two way video and audio conferencing,
  2. real time chat rooms for online contributions during talks and panels,
  3. email contributions, and
  4. social networking via Twitter, Facebook etc.

Conversations will continue beyond the conference, centered on the web-based interactive display that will continue to be accessible on the World Wide Web beyond ICRA 2015.

Invited Speakers


9:15-10:30: Opportunities and challenges for robotics in the developing world

9:15-9:25: Welcome and introduction to forum
9:25-10:10: Panel of accepted forum submissions:
1. Promoting Robotics Development in Mexico
    Jesus Savage, Alfredo Weitzenfeld, Marco Morales (Mexico)
2. Shaping the Future of Robotics and Automation in Egypt
    Alaa khamis, Mohamed Aboud (Egypt,Canada)
3. Europe and South African collaboration on the Mechatronics and Robotics systems as part of the SA Robotics Center
    Riaan Stopforth, Alexander Ferrein, Gerald Steinbauer (South Africa, Germany, Austria)
4. GIT: A Peruvian Approach to Out-of-the-Box Robotics
    Eiji Onchi, Francisco Cuellar, Cesar Lucho (Perú)
10:10-10:30: Open forum discussion on opportunities and challenges for robotics in the developing world


10:30-11:00: Coffee Break

11:00-12:15: Affordable robots for education and outreach in the developing world

11:00-11:10: Interactive display hightlights
11:10-11:15: Introduction to education and outreach theme
11:15-11:30: Invited Speakers: Ken Goldberg (University of California, Berkeley) and Ayorkor Korsah (AFRON)
11:30-12:15: Panel of accepted forum submissions:
1. Colias: towards an affordable mobile robot for education in developing countries
    Ernest Barfo Boadi Gyebi, Farshad Arvin, Marc Hanheide, Shigang Yue, Grzegorz Cielniak (United Kingdom, Ghana)
2. Lollybot: Where Candy, Gaming, and Educational Robotics Collide
    Thomas Alan Tilley (Thailand)
3. SAKSHAR: An Image-projective Desktop Varnamala Trainer (IDVT) for Interactive Learning of Alphabets
    Ravi, Prakash Joshi, Riby Abraham Boby, Subir Kumar Saha, Takafumi Matsumaru (India, Japan)
4. Autonomous Humanoid Robot AcYut
    Kaustubh Nawade, V Aditya, Pratyush Kar, Anirudh Bhutani, Nishant Bansal, Anant Anurag, Shreyas Pramod Dixit (India)


12:15-14:30: Lunch Break

14:30-15:40: Robotics technology impacting education and outreach in the developing world

14:30-15:25: Panel of accepted forum submissions:
1. Braille Tutor: Automated tutors to assist learning the slate and stylus method for writing braille
    Ermine Teves, M. Bernardine Dias (USA, India, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Zambia, China, Qatar)
2. Team-NUST: First RoboCup SPL Team from South Asia
    Muhammad Talha Imran, Abdul Rehman, Maham Tanveer, Shams Azeem, Abdul Haseeb Ayub, Idrees Hussain, Hassan Umair, Fahad Islam, Yasar Ayaz (Pakistan)
3. Robotic Competition Based Education in Engineering (RoC-BEE)
    Rishabh Agarwal, Subir Kumar Saha (India)
4. The Ashesi Innovation Experience for High School Students: Leadership and Robotics for Creative Problem-Solving
    G. Ayorkor Korsah, Wumpini Hussein, Francis Delali Vorgbe (Ghana)
5. Project Edubot
    Mateus Mendelson E. da Silva, Hugo Tadashi Kussaba (Brazil)
15:25-15:40: Discussion on robotics impacting education and outreach in the developing world


15:40-16:10: Coffee Break

16:10-17:20: Robotics research in and for the developing world

16:10-16:12: Introduction to research theme
16:12-16:27: Invited speaker: Raj Madhavan, Chair, IEEE Robotics and Automation Society-Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (RAS-SIGHT)
16:27-17:20: Panel of accepted forum submissions:
1. A Robotic Tour Guide for an African University
    G. Ayorkor Korsah, Francis Delali Vorgbe, Wumpini Hussein (Ghana)
2. Sound Source Localization with 3D Optical Fusion for Hazardous Area Surveillance using Autonomous Ground Vehicles
    Ramu Reddy Vempada, Parijat Deshpande, Karthikeyan Vaiapury, Arindam Sahar, Keshaw Dewangan, Ranjan Das Gupta, Arpal Pal (India)
3. The Scarab Project
    Tracy Booysen, Thomas Matthew, Greig Know, W.K. Fong, Marcel Stuettgen, Alexander Ferrein, Gerald Steinbauer (South Africa, Germany, Austria)
17:00-17:15: Discussion on robotics research in and for the developing world
17:15-17:20: Farewell and Conclusions



  • M. Bernardine Dias, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
  • G. Ayorkor Korsah, Ashesi University College, Ghana
  • Chinwe Ekenna, Texas A&M University, USA


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Invited Speakers

Humanitarian Robotics and Automation Technology Challenges

Raj Madhavan
Chair, IEEE Robotics and Automation Society-Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (RAS-SIGHT)

Abstract: The mission of IEEE Robotics & Automation Society’s Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (RAS–SIGHT) is the application of robotics and automation technologies for promoting humanitarian causes around the globe, and to leverage existing and emerging technologies for the benefit of humanity and towards increasing the quality of life in underserved, underdeveloped areas in collaboration with existing global communities and organizations. RAS–SIGHT is inviting the academic and non-academic community to participate in Humanitarian Robotics and Automation Technology Challenges (HRATCs) with the intended goal of developing robotic systems that are based on applied systems’ methodologies and are cost effective, reliable and efficient. HRATCs provide unprecedented opportunities for robotics and automation researchers and practitioners around the world to collaborate using their skills and education to benefit humanity. The problems (challenges) are framed with the environmental, cultural, structural, political, socio-economic and resource constraints so that solutions can be developed, deployed, and sustained. In this talk, I will provide an overview of RAS-SIGHT and as an example of the HRATC initiative, I will discuss a landmine clearance challenge (The Finals of the first in the HRATC series was held at ICRA’14 in Hong Kong and the second is being held at ICRA’15; see for additional details) that I co-organized with the intent of producing an open source solution for the age old problem of detecting and classifying unexploded ordnance buried in minefields. According to the UN Mine Action Service, landmines kill 15,000-20,000 people every year (mostly children) and maim countless more across 78 countries. De-mining efforts cost US$300-1000 per mine, and, for every 5000 mines cleared, one person is killed and two are injured. Thus, clearing post-combat regions of landmines has proven to be a difficult, risky, dangerous, and expensive task with enormous social implications for civilians. I will also describe other efforts of RAS-SIGHT including two ongoing projects focusing on robots for education and drones for firefighting.

Biography: Raj Madhavan is with the Institute for Systems Research, and a member of the Maryland Robotics Center at the University of Maryland, College Park. Currently he is on leave working on applying robotics and automation technologies for the benefit of humanity in a variety of domains. His work focuses on the applied use of robotics and automation technologies for the benefit of under-served and under-developed communities by working closely with them to sustain developed solutions. This is made possible by bringing together researchers, practitioners from industry, academia, government, and various entities such as RAS-SIGHT, NGOs, NPOs, and other organizations across the globe. He has held appointments with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (March 2002-June 2013) and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (March 2001-January 2010). He received his Ph.D. in Field Robotics from the University of Sydney, and an ME (Research) in Systems Engineering from the Australian National University. Dr. Madhavan has been serving as the Vice President of the Industrial Activities Board (2012-2015), Chair of the Standing Committee for Standards Activities (2010-2015), and since Sept. 2012 as the Chair of the Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT), all within the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. He can be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

AFRON's Ultra Affordable Educational Robot Project

Ayorkor Korsah
Ashesi University College
(on behalf of the African Robotics Network)

Abstract: With support from the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, AFRON launched the "Ultra Affordable Educational Robot" Project: to collaboratively design robots that can inspire young children worldwide about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Through two global competitions, the project has engaged interested students and engineers, in Africa and worldwide, in designing robots that are an order of magnitude less expensive than existing products, a challenge otherwise known as the “10 Dollar Robot” challenge. This talk discusses the competitions and the innovative robots resulting from these competitions.

Biography: G. Ayorkor Korsah is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Ashesi University College, Ghana, where she teaches courses in programming, data structures and algorithms, and AI robotics. She holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in computers science and engineering from Dartmouth College, and a Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. Ayorkor's research and professional interests range from designing algorithms for robot path-planning and team coordination to exploring the role of technology in education in developing communities. In 2012, she co-founded, along with Ken Goldberg, the African Robotics Network (AFRON), aimed at promoting communication and collaborations to enhance robotics-related education, research, and industry on the continent. Along with a team of Ashesi University faculty and students, she also runs the annual Ashesi Innovation Experience (AIX), an enrichment program involving leadership training, design, entrepreneurship and robotics, for high school students.