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Industrial Mobile Manipulator Challenge (IMMC)
The development of mobile manipulators has increased rapidly over the last decades. However, there remain problems that limit mobile manipulators' utility within the industrial environments, and many possible use cases are still not being addressed.
There is a long history of using competitions and challenge prizes for mobilizing talents and finding new solutions to societal and technological problems. Besides that, competitions have been found extremely beneficial for identifying excellence, educating individuals, and influencing public perception of science and technology, and their interest for solving specific problems.
With robotics technology being increasingly present in our daily life and industry, the emergence of robotics competitions around the world has shown a great potential for improving not only education and research, but also society at large. A number of studies have shown that the participants, who are typically pupils or students, experience learning-by-doing, which is both effective and engaging, and motivates the audience to participate in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas of education and pursue engineering careers. On the other hand, the participants' fresh perspectives foster creativity and innovation, consequently helping academia in research breakthroughs and pushing the state-of-the-art in several fields.
The need for a new competition stems primarily from existing competitions' lack to support challenges that appear in real industrial settings, including the aspect of human-machine co-working. On the one hand, it is evident that the education domain benefits the most from the continuously growing number of robotics competitions. A handful of competitions include participants as young as primary school students. On the other hand, the academia (research domain) is often directly involved in creation and organization of more complex challenges, tailoring the scenarios, and keeping an eye for potential breakthroughs in the development of science and technology.
Industry domain often remains detached from the development of challenges and designing challenge scenarios, particularly the ones involving mobile manipulators. Namely, the development of mobile manipulators has increased rapidly and significantly over the last decades. However, there remain problems that limit mobile manipulators' utility within the industrial environments, and many possible use cases are still not being addressed. Also, both the academia and industry still largely lack knowledge about the technology and possible use cases, and no major international knowledge exchange exists concerning this topic. Hence the Industrial Mobile Manipulator Challenge (IMMC) was introduced by a consortium of academic, research, and industry partners.