The goal of IFRR is to promote the development of robotics as a scientific field establishing the theoretical foundations and technology basis for its ever expanding applications, with emphasis on its potential role to benefit humans. The Foundation was formally established in 1986 following the success of a series of pioneering symposia that were conceived to provide the emerging community with a forum entirely devoted to all areas of robotics research.

The First International Symposium of Robotics Research (ISRR) was initiated and organized by Mike Brady and Richard Paul with the financial support of the Systems Development Foundation and the scientific contribution of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Robotics Research (IJRR). The First Symposium was convened in Bretton Woods (New Hampshire, USA) in August 1983 in a format where the number of participants was deliberately limited to encourage meaningful technical and personal interactions. The success of the First Symposium brought a strong commitment to pursue in the same spirit the organization of ISRR as a financially self-sustained series of Symposia around the world. Participants were brought together from across all areas of robotics to assess and share their views about the field and its future directions.

The international dimensions of the Foundation were reflected in the broad composition of its Board of eighteen officers, equally distributed across the regions of Asia-Australia, Europe, and North America.

Through closer cooperation and coordination with other robotics conferences, societies, and publications, IFRR continues to expand its effort to promote the development and dissemination of research within our growing robotics community.