ICAPS 2023 in Prague: A strong showing for the Department of Computer Science
Whether it is a game of chess running on a machine, a rover on Mars, or our 2023 World RoboCup @Work Champions: the b-it-bots, artificial agents that need to behave autonomously, robustly, and flexibly use AI planning (also called automated planning) approaches and technology to generate sequences of actions (i.e. plans) that allow them to reach their goals from their current situation. Similarly, scheduling technology is used to assign limited resources in an optimal way so as to complete tasks. Scheduling techniques are also found in a wide variety of domains — from factories to scheduling time on telescopes, and even during the design phase of satellites to ensure that a given set of sensors in a particular configuration is able to collect the required data as expected.
The International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS) is an A*-ranked conference and the leading forum for the exchange of news and research on the theory and applications of intelligent and automated planning and scheduling technology. This year’s edition — the first to be held in-person since the end of the pandemic — took place in Prague from 7-13 July, 2023.
Five alumni of H-BRS’ Department of Computer Science were in attendance, with two of them serving as co-organisers of workshops, and four acting as programme committee members for the conference and/or workshops. All were students of the late Prof. Dr. Gerhard Kraetzschmar who taught the master’s programme in Autonomous Systems (MAS) elective: Planning & Scheduling, and who sadly passed away in July 2019. It is worth noting that only a few days prior to the start of the conference, the b-it-bots team won the @Work World RoboCup Championship, once again, and witnessed the awarding of this year’s “Gerhard Kraetzschmar Distinguished Service Award” to Amy Eguchi. You can read all about the AI technology that enables autonomy for the b-it-bots youBot in the this article, published after their previous win in 2019.
Iman Awaad, MAS alumna, PhD candidate and researcher at H-BRS together with Masoumeh Iran Mansouri of the University of Birmingham, were co-chairs for Diversity and Inclusion at the conference. In addition, Awaad co-organised the 11th Planning & Robotics (PlanRob) workshop together with Andrea Orlandini of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (ISTC-CNR) and Alberto Finzi of the Università di Napoli "Federico II", Italy. Prof. Michael Beetz of the University of Bremen gave the PlanRob keynote. This is the third time that Awaad has co-organised the workshop. She also served on the program committees of a number of workshops and the conference’s industry and applications track.
MAS alumni Oscar Lima and Marc Vinci, both researchers at the Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz (DFKI) in Osnabrück, presented their groups’ work and offered a tutorial on the Unified Planning Framework. Oscar is responsible for the first integration of task planning technology into the b-it-bots @Work system for his master’s thesis, under the supervision of Prof. Kraetzschmar and Iman Awaad. In addition, MAS alumnus Dr. Uwe Köckeman, postdoc at the University of Örebro in Sweden, was also in attendance to present his work. Finally, MCS alumnus Dr. Daniel Höller, now a researcher in the Foundations of AI Group at the Universität des Saarlandes co-organised the Workshop on Reliable Data-driven Planning & Scheduling and won a number of awards for his planners at the International Planning Competition.
ICAPS 2024 takes place in Banff, Canada from June 1-6, 2024.