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NSERC Canadian Field Robotics Network


The NSERC Canadian Field Robotics Network (NCFRN) was launched in acknowledgement that a much-needed first national structure was required to support and foster interactions and collaborations between academic, government and industrial researchers in the area of field robotics. The NCFRN will help the key Canadian players in robotics to work together synergistically and in an integrated manner to develop the technologies needed to support the growing demand for outdoor-capable robotics systems. The technologies developed by the NCFRN will also help address a wide range of highly relevant Canadian economic, environmental and political issues spanning border patrol, spatial exploration, navigation safety and senior care.

Network Structure

The NCFRN provides the national framework for 11 research groups from 8 Canadian universities as well as 11 industrial partners and 3 government agencies. Research areas are divided into four themes, each led by an internationally recognized Canadian researcher. All of the NCFRN academic researchers and most of our partners belong to more than one theme, allowing for extensive connections and collaborations across themes and sub-themes.

The NCFRN Administration is based at McGill University. The management structure of the network is comprised of a board of directors, a scientific and steering review committee, and a technology transfer committee.

Research Objectives and Outcomes

The goal of the NCFRN is to develop intelligent, autonomous, mobile robotic vehicles suitable for real-world environments on Land, in Water, in the Air, and in Human communities. These robots will be expected to be capable to operate in one or many of these elements and collaborate with other robots and with human operators to achieve complex tasks that cannot be performed by individual robots or by humans alone. These four themes share a common set of goals and challenges. Addressing these challenges in one of the themes will allow the NCFRN team to leverage the existing technological strengths to advance research in the other themes as well.

Concrete examples of areas of application for the robotic technologies developed in each theme are given below.

Theme 1: Land — Deep forest, Arctic, underground mines, Mars

  • Applications: Planetary exploration; monitoring contaminated environments that would be unsuitable for humans-performed monitoring; and involvement in rescue operations in a variety of difficult environments

Theme 2: Air — Low-altitude flight under a range of harsh weather conditions (wind, rain, snow)

  • Applications: Monitoring of large infrastructure (power lines, pipelines) or remote areas

Theme 3: Water — Shallow and deep lakes and oceans, surf zone

  • Applications: Coastline and underwater infrastructure monitoring; ecological monitoring

Theme 4: Human — Human-centric and urban environments, with complex settings: shopping malls, homes of people with impaired cognitive/physical abilities

  • Applications: Personal assistance; detection of dangerous situations; virtual visits by family

By providing the first national structure in field robotics, the NCFRN will foster collaborations between academic, industrial and government researchers in Canada, and act as a catalyst for technology and knowledge transfer opportunities as well as for commercialization of developed technologies. The NCFRN will also enable the training of highly qualified scientists and engineers with specific multidisciplinary expertise and practical experience in field robotics. This will in turn fuel research and development in Canada.


Isabelle Lacroix
Network Manager
Tel: 514-398-7071 ext. 00126
Web Site: This link will take you to another Web site

Mailing Address:
Isabelle Lacroix
NCFRN Network
School of Computer Science
McGill University
McConnell Engineering Building, Room 318
3480 University Street
Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 0E9

Contact us at 1-877-767-1767