The sixth in a series of DHS/NIST response robot evaluation exercises will be hosted at the emergency responder training facility known as Disaster City in College Station, TX. Thirty emergency responders from across the country will participate, including FEMA urban search and rescue teams; federal, state and local bomb squads; and police/SWAT teams, to help validate emerging standard robot test methods, become familiar with available robot capabilities, and advise robot developers regarding operational requirements. All applicable robots are invited to take part in this exercise including ground, aquatic, and VTOL aerials under 5 lbs. Robots will capture performance data within emerging standard test methods developed to evaluate Logistics, Mobility, Manipulation, Sensors, Radio Communications, Energy, Human-System Interaction, and Localization/Mapping capabilities. Robots may then be deployed with responders to perform operational tasks in practice scenarios, for example:
These response robot evaluation exercises for US&R teams introduce emerging robotic capabilities to emergency responders within their own training facilities, while educating robot developers regarding the necessary performance requirements and operational constraints to be effective. Emerging standard test methods and usage guides for US&R robot performance are under development within the ASTM International Committee on Homeland Security, Operational Equipment (E54.08.01). These events help refine the proposed standard test methods and fixtures/props that developers can use to practice critical capabilities and measure performance in ways that are relevant to emergency responders. These events are conducted in US&R training scenarios to help correlate the proposed standard test methods with envisioned deployment tasks and to lay the foundation for usage guides identifying a robot's applicability to particular response scenarios.
Disaster City is a 52-acre training facility designed to deliver the full array of skills and techniques needed by urban search and rescue professionals. As part of the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) at Texas A&M University and a training site for TX-TF1, the facility features full-size collapsible structures that replicate community infrastructure, including a strip mall, office building, industrial complex, assembly hall/theater, single family dwelling, train derailment and three rubble piles.
Download Detailed Agenda (in pdf)
This event will be held on Monday through Friday, including two days of robot practice within the emerging NIST/ASTM standard test methods for developers, two days of robots deploying in operational scenarios with responders, and a final half-day standards committee meeting to capture feedback.
Day 1 and Day 2 (March 8-9)
On site are robot developers and NIST administrators only. All participating robots will be run through all applicable test methods, providing practice sessions prior to arrival of the emergency responders. "Expert" operators, chosen by the robot developers to capture baseline performance data and provide developer feedback regarding the test apparatuses and test methods, should operate the robots. The robot performance data will not be published. Rather the robot developers will be exposed to the entire suite of responder-validated test methods and provided an opportunity to help refine the test methods prior to standardization (this event will be the final opportunity for this set of tests).
Day 3 (March 10)
On site are emergency responders representing FEMA Task Force Teams from across the country, robot developers, and NIST administrators. The assembled responders will rotate in small groups through all test methods to train on robots prior to deploying them into the US&R training props on site. They will become familiar with robotic capabilities using the best performing robots in any given test method. While being exposed to the latest emerging technologies, the responders will provide feedback to developers regarding necessary capabilities, operator interfaces, and realistic usage scenarios.
Day 4 (March 11)
The emergency responders will focus on the most applicable robots to perform targeted tasks in the operational practice scenarios around the site, which will include embedded test methods practiced in the previous days. Robot developers will accompany the responders on scenario deployments as observers, advisors, and as operators in particularly difficult deployments to show the potential of robot capabilities. All robot developers on-site, even if your robot is not selected by responders for deployment, may watch the incident response scenarios to observe the robot deployments and absorb the lessons.
Day 5 (March 12 AM only)
An after action briefing and ASTM standards committee meeting will be held for all participants to provide feedback on the proposed standard test methods. We also want to assess the operational impact and potential improvements necessary for robots to become useful tools for US&R responders. DHS and FEMA managers interested in applying robots to US&R operations will be invited to observe as well.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites
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College Station, TX 77840
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