Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Response Robot Evaluation Exercise (#6)

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.



  • Intelligent Systems Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology 
  • Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX)


  • Science and Technology Directorate, Department of Homeland Security
  • National Institute of Justice


  • Southwest Research Institute
  • University of Massachusetts - Lowell
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command

Expected Participants

Important Event Information

Incident Response Scenarios

Test Methods


Participant Checklist
  • Other items to bring
    • Operator interface video adapters (BNC or RCA) so we can include your interface within our quad screen video capture which includes robot video, tracking data, etc. (we'll have PAL to NTSC converter available)
    • Sensors for victim identification or hazardous material detection along with preferred simulants we can "hide" in the test methods and scenarios for you to find. Or be sure to tell us what typical simulants to have available (ammonia, for example).

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
1203 University Dr. East
College Station, TX 77840

Room Rate: $109.99
Use Group Code: NIS
Group Rate Cut Off Date is: February 14, 2010

Courtyard Marriott
3939 Highway 6 South
College Station, TX 77845

Towne Place Suites
300 University Drive East
College Station, TX 77840

Created October 6, 2009, Updated June 2, 2021