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Emergency Response Robots

Summary:

Emergency responders enhance the resiliency of communities by exploiting remotely operated robots to protect the public during extremely hazardous situations including disabling or dismantling improvised explosive devices (pipes, packages, vehicles); searching for survivors in collapsed or compromised structures; establishing situational awareness during police actions; monitoring large scale industrial or transportation accidents; and mitigating potential terrorist attacks using chemical, biological, or radiological sources. Responders want to “start remote and stay remote” when dealing with such hazards and need capable robotic systems that can be remotely operated from safe stand-off distances. This project will provide a science-based foundation necessary to characterize robot design, mobility, functionality, and autonomy in order to develop a comprehensive suite of standard test methods to evaluate remotely operated robotic systems. The results of this research will allow the development of consensus performance standards for Federal, state, and local emergency responders, robot developers, and testing facilities, both civilian and military. In addition to stimulating the evolution of robots from innovation to field deployment, this project will enable safer and more effective tactics for emergency responders, and strengthen the resiliency of communities to respond to acts of terrorism, significant accidents, and catastrophic natural disasters and reduce fatalities, injuries and property loss.

Description:

Objective:

To advance the capabilities of emergency response robots by developing the necessary standard test methods to quantitatively evaluate the performance of robots to improve the safety and effectiveness of emergency responders.

What is the new technical idea?

First responders need quantitative ways to measure whether any given robot is capable and reliable enough to perform specific missions. The new approach is to decompose any mission into a series of components that are necessary to achieve mission objectives. These components include mobility, data collection, vision, object manipulation, communication, stealth, operations, and autonomy. Developing an understanding of the underlying science for each of these components will enable the development ofscience-based performance metrics and standard test methodologies necessary to quantitatively characterize the performance of component- and system-based functionality. First responders also need ways to train operators. Standard test methods provide inherent measures of operator proficiency and can isolate and measure deficiencies in operator interfaces and other equipment while improving very perishable operator skills. Responders should no longer specify a set of requirements when acquiring a robot, because all too often those requirements are competing with each other in the context of technical practicality, reliability, cost, etc. This has consistently led either to disappointment, excessive cost, or both. Rather, responders should make purchasing decisions by specifying available combinations of robotic capabilities as demonstrated to statistical significance within a set of standard test methods that reflect their envisioned mission tasks. The results of this research will allow the development of consensus performance standards for Federal, state, and local emergency responders, robot developers, and testing facilities, both civilian and military. In addition to stimulating the evolution of robots from innovation to field deployment, this project will enable safer and more effective tactics for emergency responders.

What is the research plan?

Understanding the underlying science of component- and system- based robot functionalities will enable the development a suite of standard test methods. This understanding will be the science-based foundation which will a) provide rapid evaluation of response robots to capture baseline capabilities for any specified robot configuration, b) support for operator training with inherent measures of proficiency, and c) support for robotics research with inherent measures of autonomous behaviors. The research plan includes three phases:1) generate a comprehensive suite of standard test methods to quantify key capabilities of response robots, 2) use the standard test methods to support operator training with inherent measures of proficiency, and 3) Use the standard test methods to measure levels of robot autonomy.

During the first phase, these test methods will characterize robot maneuvering, mobility, manipulation, sensing, endurance, radio communication, durability, reliability, logistics, and safety for remotely operated ground vehicles, small unmanned aerial, and aquatic vehicles. The focus of the research in the first year of this project will be develop test methods for robot mobility and vision. Other test methods including manipulation, communication, durability, and reliability will be developed in the second and third year of this project. As a comprehensive suite is completed, the objective is to facilitate quantitative comparisons of different robot configurations based on statistically significant robot capabilities data captured within standard test methods to understand baseline capabilities of any specified robot configuration. This suite of test methods is being standardized through the ASTM International Standards Committee on Homeland Security Applications; Operational Equipment; Robots (E54.08.01) which includes equal representation of robot developers, emergency responders, and civilian/military test administrators.

Start Date:

October 1, 2013

Lead Organizational Unit:

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Contact
Adam Jacoff, Project Leader

301 975 4235 Telephone
301 990 9688 Fax

100 Bureau Drive, M/S 8230
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8230