Media Releases

Air, land and water robots to be featured during NCFRN field trials at UTIAS/York U

April 18, 2013

TORONTO, ON – The NSERC Canadian Field Robotics Network (NCFRN) will be hosting a robotics field trials media day on Monday, April 22 at York University and the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS).

NCFRN, a network spanning eight universities and 14 partner organizations, brings together academic, government and industrial researchers in the area of field robotics to develop the science and technologies that will allow teams of robots to work collaboratively in outdoor environments, communicating critical information to the humans who operate or use them.

The upcoming field trials will help test a diverse range of robotics technologies, with applications ranging from environmental monitoring around Canada’s extensive coastlines – including in the far North, where harsh conditions make human research complicated and costly – to mining and resource identification, planetary exploration, pipeline monitoring, border surveillance, search and rescue, and even dealing with environmental disasters such as nuclear accidents.

“These organizations, and the specific representatives, constitute the cream of the crop in terms of Canadian researchers and developers doing outdoor robotics,” says NCFRN scientific director Gregory Dudek. “The vehicles they will be using at the field trials span ones that walk, fly and swim, and the scientific and technical leadership will be among the best in the world.”

Schedule of events:

York University

10:30am-12:30pm Stong Pond and west side of Keele campus (see map)

Several robots will be demoed at this time, including:

Eddy: Eddy and the Minnows are a collective fleet of autonomous surface robots that are being used to develop hardware and algorithms suitable for providing sensor coverage of a body of water. Imagine trying to monitor an event such as pollution on a water body. Rather than sending a single robot to deal with the problem, it can be more efficient and cost effective to deploy a fleet. This work seeks to address technical problems related to this type of implementation.

Grizzly: Imagine trying to maintain a geographically extensive infrastructure (pipeline, hydro corridor, etc.). How can we build robotic systems that can monitor over such large areas? Grizzly is a large robot that is being outfitted in order to perform such tasks.


1pm-3pm – MarsDome, UTIAS (see map)

The NCFRN field trials at UTIAS will involve a small planetary exploration scenario. Participants will use their robots to search for a collection of rocks hidden in the MarsDome, which contains a mock planetary landscape. They must seek out the rocks, image them and return to their starting locations. The Lunar Exploration Light Rover, built by MDA for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and one of the CSA’s Juno research robots will be two celebrity robots attempting the challenge. Click here to see the robots in action.


 For more information, contact:

Robin Heron, Media Relations, York University, 416-736-2100 x22097 /

Terry Lavender, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, University of Toronto, 416-978-4498 /