Robotics, search & rescue, DHS S&T, RoboChallenge | Homeland Security Newswire

Rescue robotsRoboCup 2018: Testing methods used to evaluate rescue robots

Published 10 August 2018

Since 1997, several continents have played host to an international soccer tournament. No, not the World Cup — the RoboCup. Robots of all shapes and sizes test their “metal” in the world’s favorite sport. Engineers and fans from across the globe have gathered to watch hunks of autonomous steel try to nudge a ball into a miniature net.

Since 1997, several continents have played host to an international soccer tournament. No, not the World Cup — the RoboCup. Robots of all shapes and sizes test their “metal” in the world’s favorite sport. Engineers and fans from across the globe have gathered to watch hunks of autonomous steel try to nudge a ball into a miniature net.

Those robots have improved their footwork over the decades, and the RoboCup competition itself has evolved as well. Today, the event is more than a game. It is a conference that showcases different families of robots with applications for home, industry and public safety, all of which were a part of this year’s conference in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Robots in the Public Safety category, RoboCup Rescue, were once again judged according to standards developed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

RoboCup rescue standards
RoboCup Rescue was added to the bill in 2001. S&T says that the S&T- and NIST-developed test methods include requirements and apparatuses that allow robots to demonstrate and measure their abilities, everything from climbing stairs to scaling walls and turning knobs. Test methods are divided into three levels of difficulty in order to distinguish the more powerful systems.

To date, S&T has developed about 30 different methods with NIST to evaluate the performance of robots in search and rescue, decision support, information systems and many other functions that could help in a crisis. Twenty are for ground robots and 10 are for drones. The apparatuses used at this year’s RoboCup Rescue tested maneuvering, mobility, dexterity and mapping. Sensors were also tested for visual acuity, color acuity, thermal acuity, audio acuity, hazmat label identification, motion acuity and latency.