SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 31 October 2019

Best in Class: Leveraging Robot Performance Standards in Academic Competitions to Encourage Development and Dissemination


Standard test methods and academic competitions share much in common. We detail how we use standard test methods to promote education, research, development, and dissemination among the academic community. Since 2014, we have used competitions and open source robot designs to focus students, and particularly high school students, on the challenges of emergency response and public safety robotics. Our two main initiatives are the Rapidly Manufactured Robot Challenge (RMRC), which forms part of the RoboCup Rescue Robot League (RRL), and the Open Academic Robot Kit (OARKit). The RRL and RMRC leverage standard test methods for response robots, developed under ASTM International Subcommittee E54.09 on Homeland Security Applications: Response Robots. The standards developed under Subcommittee E54.09 are significantly supported by the prenormative research collaboration between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These standard test methods are an effective way of communicating the challenges of the domain and focusing research and development on open problems. By measuring the performance of prototypical implementations in a consistent, comparable manner, standard test methods also allow students to compare performance with each other as well as with commercial, deployed robots. The OARKit aims to capitalize on the ease of comparison and collaboration that comes with the use of standard test methods by lowering the resource and expertise barriers for entry into response robotics research. This family of robot designs forms an ideal starting point for new and existing teams to enter the RMRC. Teams build these robots by following basic instructions and then improve them in their area of expertise. The results are then rigorously measured in the competition and disseminated to other teams. Thus the community of teams shares each other's developments and pushes the state of the art forward.

Author Information

Sheh, Raymond, K.
Dept. of Computing, Curtin University, Bentley, WA, Australia Intelligent Systems Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, US
Jacoff, Adam, S.
Intelligent Systems Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, US
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Developed by Committee: E54
Pages: 91–115
DOI: 10.1520/STP161420180052
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7674-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7673-7