IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Technical Committee on Robot Mechanisms and Design

The Technical Committee was formally approved by the Technical Activities Board and Society Leadership at ICRA in Hong Kong, June 2014. The content below represents the scope, motivation, goals, and leadership of the committee from the approved proposal.


Gone are the days of robot hardware infancy, where robot arms were largely bolted to the ground and mobile robots consisted of boxes on wheels, and where even the simplest of hardware designs were often good enough. With the advent of robotics into truly unstructured environments, the mechanical hardware of the robot is an increasingly crucial and challenging aspect of the system that can often itself determine the success or failure of the task. Application areas such as grasping and manipulation in a diverse range of human environments, locomotion over rough terrain, search and rescue in a disaster area, and collaborative physical human/robot interaction convey challenging performance requirements on the robot hardware. Some of the most challenging aspects of these and other tasks involve both the variability in the physical requirements on the robot, as well as the inherent uncertainty in the available information required to plan and control the operation.

Despite this increased importance of robot mechanical hardware, the population of researchers focused on those problems has not yet coalesced into a coherent community. This Technical Committee seeks to bring together this population of researchers within the RAS community in order to share knowledge, standardize practices /procedures, and raise the profile of the exciting new work being done in robot mechanisms and design. Additionally, we seek to establish strong ties to the robotics and robotic components industries to facilitate technology transfer, educate researchers on new available technologies, approaches, and standards, and help anchor research approaches to commercial needs and market viability.

Most of the existing technical committees are arranged according to a specific application area, as opposed to a specific technical area. As a result, work done within the TC scope typically spans a wide range of technical approaches, from sensing and perception, learning, planning, control, and mechanisms/design. We seek to unite the group of RAS researchers who primarily utilize technical approaches in Mechanisms, Mechanics, and Mechanical Design under a single TC in order to share approaches and results, solidify standards of practice, and support the career development of young researchers in the area.


The Mechanisms and Design Technical Committee seeks to bring together researchers with interest in innovative mechanical hardware in robotic systems. Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Compliant and variable-stiffness mechanisms
  • Design of hardware for open-source dissemination
  • Design of robot systems incorporating novel mechanisms
  • Materials and fabrication technologies as they relate to novel design and mechanism paradigms
  • Mechanism synthesis
  • Novel actuator technologies
  • Novel transmission technologies
  • Parallel mechanisms
  • Parameter Selection and Sizing of Actuators
  • Underactuated mechanisms