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Preliminary Requirements Report

Standards Working Groups






Response Robot Evaluation Exercise (#4)
Disaster City, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
June 18-22, 2007
June 22, 2007 Standards Working Group Meetings (ASTM E54.08.01)

Disaster City Map
(click on image to download poster)

Event Introduction

The fourth in a series of response robot evaluation exercises for DHS/FEMA US&R teams will be hosted at the TX-TF1 training facility known as Disaster City located at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. All applicable robots are invited to take part in this exercise, which will capture robot performance data within emerging standard robot test methods and operationally relevant practice scenarios. Two highlighted practice scenarios will feature ground robots working in confined spaces and down-range reconnaissance of a hazardous materials train wreck from an operational stand-off greater than 150m/500ft. Other practice scenarios will also be available.

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 map and Logos

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.

The robots envisioned for use in these scenarios should deploy any or all appropriate sensors such as: color cameras, two-way audio, thermal imagers, chemical sensors, 3D mapping, GPS/GIS location, and/or other useful capabilities such as payloads, manipulators, etc. General descriptions of the robots sought are as follows, but are not limited to:

  • Ground based portable robots that can circumnavigate large unknown situations (i.e. around the train derailments).
  • Highly agile, man-packable robots that can lead responders through complex environments (i.e. the buildings and rubble piles).
  • Confined space accessible robots for deployment into sub-human size voids or be thrown into/over inaccessible area
  • Wall climbing robots for surveillance from elevated vantage points

The schedule will go as follows:

Monday, Tuesday:
After arrival on Monday morning, robot developers will operate their robots in the emerging standard test methods to capture robot performance data with expert operators.

After completion of the suite of tests applicable to any given robot, the responders will then train on those robots within the test methods to some level of proficiency (% of expert operator performance) prior to deploying the robots within the operational scenarios.

Thursday, Friday:
The responders along with the expert operators will deploy the robots into applicable operational scenarios, adhering to operational constraints defined by the responders.

A meeting on Friday afternoon will capture feedback from the responders and robot developers regarding the test methods, the operational scenarios, and robot applicability/readiness for deployment. The online ASTM balloting procedure for the test methods will be open for one month after this event to capture comments.

The hosts at TEEX will provide all the necessary logistical support such as tents, tables, power, water, and other facilities for all emergency responders and robot teams. NIST will provide proposed standard test fixtures/props, forms, etc. A local hotel room block will be reserved and transportation from the hotel to the site will be provided to facilitate logistics. Lunches will be served at the site each day.

These practice incident response exercises are as close as we have to the real thing, and provide an important opportunity to introduce the potential benefits of robots and advanced sensors into US&R responses. So consider this an open invitation to present your applicable robot or sensor to those that can benefit most. Let them practice in a relevant training environment as you refine your assumptions about their needs and constraints.
Date Created: 03/29/2007
Last updated: 08/11/2008