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:
- searching and mapping (2D, 3D) test methods for operational tasks in building interiors and exteriors, partially collapsed structures, and confined spaces in rubble piles
- mobile manipulation test methods for operational tasks in EOD scenarios
- endurance, radio communications, sensor acuity, and decontamination/washdown test methods for operational tasks in down-range reconnaissance of a hazardous materials train wreck from an stand-off greater than 150m/500ft
- towing test methods (trailers, gripper-drag) for operational tasks in EOD and US&R scenarios
- underwater test methods for navigation and sensor acuity for operational tasks in the on-sight pond
- aerial test methods for air-worthiness, station-keeping, and sensor acuity for operational tasks supporting scenarios noted above
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.