October 2023 5-6

Workshop on Software Engineering for Robotics (SE4Robotics'23)

The workshop will bring together thought leaders from academia and industry, in robotics and software engineering, to identify key problems in software engineering for robotics that we should tackle in the next 5 years, and to coalesce a community around those problems. The workshop will produce a roadmap for the community, as well as generate new connections, collaborations, and synergy amongst diverse researchers interested in this problem domain.

  • 8/24: Updated agenda of activities
  • 8/20: Short framing talks speakers confirmed
  • 7/15: Workshop is full

  • Motivation

    The progress in robot development and its impact in the last decade have been astounding. Yet, software engineering techniques and tools have not kept up with this revolution, and in many cases are hindering it. Current techniques are challenged by the diversity of (1) robots, environments, and clients being deployed, (2) inputs they consume and technologies they employ, and (3) engineers’ backgrounds. Handling this diversity requires a dramatic shift in the development of the robot software stack. Looking ahead to robots that are more ubiquitous and autonomous only makes this shift more pressing.


    • Identify the most distinctive current and emerging software engineering practices in the robotics domain that require specialized support
    • Determine the major software engineering pain points in robotics and how those are expected to shift in the future to require transformational software engineering techniques

    Expected Impact

    • Energize the exchange of ideas between the software engineering and robotics communities, bringing together leading researchers from industry and academia
    • Produce a report summarizing the findings and strategic priorities, and share it with both communities to promote this agenda

    Topics of Interest

  • Programming languages that account for uncertainty and variability
  • Abstractions that accommodate the richer notions of system state in robotics
  • Mechanisms that integrate heterogeneous software and hardware
  • Reference architectures that support environmental adaptation
  • Development techniques that reduce and account for the simulation-reality gap
  • Certification and assurance cases for robot software and hardware software/integrations
  • Design & analysis techniques that transcend programmed/learned barriers
  • Processes that support simultaneous evolution of physical & cyber components
  • Assured composition of machine-learned components with conventional components
  • Distribution and deployment at high-scale and at high-speed
  • Curricula for software engineering to roboticists, and robotics to software engineers
  • Libraries/frameworks/reusable components in the presence of extreme diversity
  • Maintenance and sustainability of robots with long and continuous deployments

  • Tentative Schedule of Activities

    This is a working workshop that will tap into the diverse experiences and expertise of the participants. We have a few framing talks to help highight the different dimensions of the problem and the solution space, but most of the schedule is allocated to hands-on activities.

    Day 1 - October 5th

    8:45 - 9:00 Welcome
    9:00 - 10:30 Ideation I
    10:30 - 11:00 Break and networking
    11:00 - 12:00 Framing talks I:
  • On writing robot software with ROS 1 and ROS 2: Some Lessons Learned by Morgan Quingley, Chief Architect at Open Robotics
  • Languages and Architectures for Guiding Long-lived Systems by Brian Williams, Professor at MIT
  • 12:00 - 12:30 Prioritizing best ideas
    12:30 - 13:30 Lunch and networking
    13:30 - 14:30 Ideation II
    14:30 - 15:00 Prioritizing best ideas
    15:00 - 15:30 Break and networking
    15:30 - 16:45 Framing talks II:
  • Towards a Design Flow for Verified AI-Based Autonomy by Sanjit Seshia, Professor at UC Berkeley
  • Robot Disintegration: How Common Robot Architectures Work Against Successful Robot Products by Todd Pack, Principal Robotics Engineer at Neo Cybernetica
  • 17:00 - 19:00 Light Reception

    Day 2 - October 6th

    8:45 - 9:00 Recap of Day 1
    9:00 - 10:30 Theme synthesis and report I
    10:30 - 11:00 Break and networking
    11:00 - 12:30 Theme synthesis and report II
    12:30 - 13:30 Lunch and networking
    13:30 - 15:00 Theme refinement and report
    15:00 - 15:30 Closing



    • Claire Le Goues, Associate Professor of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
    • Sebastian Elbaum, Anita Jones Professor of Computer Science, University of Virginia

    Steering Committee

    • Bill Smart, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics, Oregon State University
    • Brian Gerkey, CEO and Co-Founder, Open Robotics
    • David Wettergreen, Research Professor at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
    • Xiangyu Zhang, Professor of Computer Science, Purdue University

    NSF Liason

    • Sol Greenspan


    Workshop attendees are selected and invited to ensure a diversity of perspectives aligned with the workshop goals. If you are interested in attending, please contact the workshop chairs at clegoues 'at' cs.cmu.edu and selbaum 'at' virginia.edu.

    The workshop will be co-located with IROS at Huntington Place, 1 Washington Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48226. We will be at room 412 A-B.

    Code Of Conduct

    We expect all participants to behave professionally and to help create a safe and welcoming environment for all attendees, volunteers, sponsors, organizers, speakers, and venue staff. The workshop will conform to the standard IEEE Code of Conduct and the ACM harassment policy.


    The workshop was made possible by the National Science Foundation.