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July/August 2008
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Comparison of Robots for Urban Search and Rescue Addressed in New Standard

A new ASTM International standard, E2592, Practice for Evaluating Cache Packaged Weight and Volume of Robots for Urban Search and Rescue, is one result of a three-year National Institute of Standards and Technology-coordinated effort with first responders and manufacturers to develop urban search and rescue robot standards. The new standard is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E54.08 on Operational Equipment, part of ASTM International Committee E54 on Homeland Security Applications.

“This standard was developed as part of an overall effort to provide a means for helping the responder community make decisions about which robots may be usable for urban search and rescue applications,” says Elena Messina, acting chief, Intelligent Systems Division, NIST, and chair of the E54.08.01 task group that developed E2592.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been sponsoring NIST’s coordination of a definition of requirements for robots applied to urban search and rescue and the development of performance standards for these robots. More than 100 individual requirements for such robots were collected from representatives of the DHS Federal Emergency Management Agency US&R task forces.

“This standard can be used to summarize the footprint that a robot and all its necessary components requires, both in terms of storage as well as transportation,” says
Messina. “E2592 provides a concise way of listing volume and weight of robot packaging. It also includes information that is essential during a deployment, such as which tools must be brought along, how long it takes to prepare the robot for service and the weight of the robot, should it have to be carried by human responders.”

E2592 will allow potential purchasers to understand how a particular robot will affect logistics planning and execution (for example, start-up time, tools needed, etc.) during a deployment. Potential users can compare different robot requirements in weight and volume, as well as the required tools and how much time is needed to make a robot operational. “Making these parameters part of a standard highlights their importance and relevance to the manufacturers,” says Messina. “This provides users with valuable information and can perhaps provide incentive for them to consider lighter weights, easier setups, simpler tools and other parameters,” says Messina.

Messina stresses that currently robots are only being used experimentally in urban search and rescue settings. “The standards developing process is helping to define the requirements and measure progress toward attaining the performance needed for these new tools to be useful,” says Messina.

The task group is seeking more participation in the development of additional standards pertaining to robots for urban search and rescue. Working groups within the task group currently include logistics, communications, sensors, mobility, operational environment and safety, human-system interaction and energy.

CONTACT

Technical Information: Elena Messina, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md.

Phone: 301-975-3422

ASTM Staff: Timothy Brooke

Phone: 610-832-9729