EL researchers Adam Jacoff and Ann Virts led a team of international robot test administrators to conduct the 2011 RoboCupRescue Robot Competition held in Istanbul, Turkey in July. This World Championship event included 17 teams from 11 countries. The championship was again won by a team from Thailand, which hosts annual regional robot competitions including more than 100 teams. Several strong teams from Japan did not participate in the event given their recent use of their robots to respond to actual disasters in their country. The test arenas that are used to host the competition, challenge the robot teams, and prepare them for fielding are based on more than a dozen ASTM International Standard Test Methods for Emergency Response Robots. NIST leadership in developing these standard test methods through the ASTM Committee on Homeland Security Applications; Operational Equipment; Robots (E54.08.01) is sponsored by the Science and Technology Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The competition arena included test courses to conduct standard, draft standard, and prototype tests. The extensive robot performance data collected over more than 120 trials during the week-long event will help NIST efforts to develop and validate new standard test methods. Robots involved in the competition typically deploy the most advanced mobile robot capabilities and autonomous behaviors seen anywhere in the world. New initiatives this year included prototype test courses to measure the performance of 3-D mapping systems in unknown environments with complex terrain, extending the prior emphasis on 2-D mapping. New confined space access challenges were included to challenge robot teams to vertically and horizontally insert sensing and mapping payloads through 15 cm (6 in) bore holes. These capabilities, which are well within reach of many teams in the competition, are a high priority for emergency responders across the country, especially the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urban search and rescue teams.
Several notable robot performances won best-in-class awards for mobility, manipulation, and autonomy/mapping. These teams will take part in NIST's upcoming Response Robot Evaluation Exercise hosted at a responder training facility in Texas called Disaster City, where robot developers, researchers, and emergency responders gather to test robots using the standard test methods prior to deploying them into actual operational scenarios with responders.
For more information: http://www.robocup2011.org/en/
Contact: Adam Jacoff, (301) 975-4235, and Ann Virts, (301) 975-5068