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MEL Highlights April 2010

Highlights from the Manufacturing
Engineering Laboratory, April 2010
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Programmatic/Technical Accomplishments

NIST Fosters Innovation in Response Robots

Researchers in MEL's Intelligent Systems Division hosted a Response Robot Evaluation Exercise at a 52-acre emergency responder training facility called Disaster City in College Station, Texas.  The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate sponsored the event, along with NIST's office of Law Enforcement Standards, to evaluate draft standard robot test methods developed by NIST and to correlate the test methods with operational task requirements provided by the responders.  More than 230 people participated in the five-day event including emergency responders representing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urban search and rescue teams, some of whom had just returned from their Haiti earthquake deployment, and federal, state, and local bomb squads from across the country.  More than 30 robots participated including two remotely operated aquatic vehicles and a small (< 2 kg or 5 lb) unmanned aerial system.  They performed test methods in various stages of development, provided capabilities demonstrations, and some "stick time" for responders on their operator interfaces.  The commercially available robots captured performance data in the test methods that will be used to help guide responder purchasing and deployment decisions.  Research prototype robots also participated as winners of best-in-class awards for mobility, autonomy, mapping, and mobile-manipulation capabilities during international RoboCupRescue Robot League competitions that use the test method apparatuses to assess performance.  These Response Robot Evaluation Exercises bring together robot developers, researchers, and civilian and military test administrators to collaborate with the ASTM International Standards Committee on Homeland Security Applications; Operational Equipment; Robots (E54.08.01).  In general, the suite of more than 20 draft standard robot test methods quantify a variety of robot capabilities in mobility, manipulation, sensors, energy, radio communications, human-robot interfaces, logistics and safety, and help foster innovation by providing benchmark challenges with associated performance metrics.  

Contact: Adam Jacoff, 301-975-4235

MEL Led Effort Results in New ISO Standard on Surface Texture Measurement Methods

The draft documentary standard, ISO 25178-6, Geometrical product specifications (GPS) — Surface texture: Areal — Part 6: Classification of methods for measuring surface texture, was recently published as an international standard by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).  This new standard defines three categories of methods for measuring surface texture: line profiling, areal topography, and area integrating methods and provides a comprehensive list of individual methods currently used in each category as well as brief descriptions of those methods.  With this simple structure the document paves the way for development of a series of standards that will describe metrological characteristics and calibration standards for individual methods.  This classification structure has already born fruit several-fold because it has led to the development of draft international standards for six of the methods listed in ISO 25178-6.  Once published these standards will also be "parts" under the umbrella of ISO 25178.  This important series of standards will clear up common misunderstandings about several classes of optical methods for measuring surface texture and will enable users of surface texture measurement methods to understand their relative strengths and limitations and select the optimum methods for their applications.  Part 6: Classification of methods for measuring surface texture was developed by the Optical Methods Project Team led by MEL Guest Researcher Ted Vorburger   The Optical Methods Project Team includes experts from the United States, UK, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland and operates under Working Group 16 on Areal Surface Texture of ISO Technical Committee 213 on Dimensional and Geometrical Product Specifications and Verification.

Contact: Ted Vorburger, 301-975-3493


MEL Successfully Hosts the 5th Annual Interoperability Summit

The MEL hosted Interoperability Summit 2010 provided a venue for professionals from different disciplines to compare issues and share solutions to manufacturing interoperability problems within their domains.  The Summit meetings hosted at the NIST Gaithersburg campus in March 2010 included the 2010 Product Data Exchange using STEP (PDES), Inc. and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Spring Off-site, the Ontology Summit, and the 2D and 3D Content Representation Analysis and Retrieval and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) Workshop.

The PDES, Inc. and TAC Spring Off-site brought leading manufacturers, national governmental agencies, software vendors, and research organizations together to collaborate in support of the Digital Enterprise through the development and implementation of information standards to support Model-based Engineering (MBE), Model-based Manufacturing (MBM), and Model-based Sustainment (MBS).

The Ontology Summit explored strategies to address the need to produce the next generation of competently trained professional Ontologist to meet the increasing need of ontology expertise in governments and scientific and industrial organizations.  For more information please visit

The 2D and 3D Workshop brought professionals from the various scientific research communities together to present their recent research on bioimaging, image processing and analysis, shape metrology and analysis, metadata and ontology, service-oriented architecture and interoperability tools, benchmarks and evaluation methodologies.  For more information please visit

Contact: Simon Frechette, 301-975-3335

NIST and ATF National Ballistics Imaging Comparison (NBIC) Project Helps Crime Laboratories With Traceable Measurements

Firearm examiners can expect increasing challenges as they use their machines to identify persons guilty of firearm-related criminal activity.  NIST standards and traceability for ballistic imaging address the widespread recognition for the need for accreditation of forensic laboratories. A recent policy issued by American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB-International) requires crime laboratories to provide demonstration of measurement traceability to a National Metrology Institute (in the US this is NIST) and report their measurement uncertainty in response to the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005 for forensic laboratory accreditation. The National Ballistics Imaging Comparison (NBIC) Project, a joint project of NIST and the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), initiated in July 2008, aimed to establish the Traceability and Quality System for nationwide ballistics signature measurements.  Nineteen ballistics examiners from 13 forensic laboratories participated in this project.  The NIST Standard Reference Material (SRM)  2460/2461 Standard Bullets and Casings developed by MEL were used as the reference standard.  Each examiner measured a SRM bullet and a SRM casing 24 times using their computerized ballistics signature identification system over about a year period.  In September 2009, the correlation results were collected by NIST for statistical analyses.  The "Dynamic Control Charts and Control Limits", proposed by MEL researchers, have been developed for a proposed Traceability and Quality System for the ATF National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN).  Two NIST workshops were held in June 2008 and January 2009.  The third workshop, held March 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri, summarized the results of the project.  Attendees came from ATF, FBI, local police agencies and FTI (Forensic Technology Inc., Canada).  T. Vorburger, T. Renegar, A. Zheng, J. Song of MEL, J. Yen of ITL, R. Thompson of EEEL at NIST and M. Ols at ATF presented talks to review the project, to introduce the acquisition procedure, and to summarize the results of the statistical analyses for development of the dynamic control charts and control limits.  The proposed uncertainty procedure and future work were also discussed.  For the establishment the Traceability and Quality System for US ballistics measurements, and for promoting future assessments and accreditations for US ballistics laboratories using the ISO 17025 Standard the NIST SRM 2460/2461 Standard Bullets and Casings will be used as the reference standard, combined with the use of the NIST proposed dynamic control charts and control limits,  The NIST SRM bullets have also been used in Canada, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Poland and Russia as a reference standard for ballistics signature measurements and identifications.  

Contact: John Song, 301-975-3799

Created July 1, 2010, Updated October 5, 2010