ASTM Increasing Response Robot Test Methods

The new test methods will allow for comprehensive measurement of baseline robot capabilities, reliability of assistive and autonomous behaviors, and remote operator proficiency to support training.

ASTM International recently announced that technical experts on its Committee on Homeland Security Applications (E54) are doubling an existing suite of 15 standard test methods for "response robots" that help public safety agencies and protect the lives of emergency responders. A robot that was used to kill a sniper involved in the July 2016 attack on Dallas Police Department officers, during which a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer also was killed, was a very high-profile and possibly unprecedented use of robotics by law enforcement.

ASTM reported that the test methods "address ground robots ranging in size from small throwable devices to mobile manipulators that weigh up to 500 kg (1100 lb). The new, larger collection of test methods will allow for comprehensive measurement of: baseline robot capabilities, reliability of assistive and autonomous behaviors, and remote operator proficiency to support training."

Such robots are used by civilian bomb squads, SWAT teams, urban search and rescue teams, military explosive ordinance disposal teams, and other types of agencies in order to establish situational awareness, search for victims of disasters, disable improvised explosive devices, and more. The new standards address essential capabilities such as:

  • dexterity tasks for objects
  • maneuvering tasks
  • counter-improvised-explosive-device tasks for packages, personnel, and vehicles
  • situational awareness tasks including pointing/zooming cameras, navigating and searching labyrinths and mazes, mapping environments, and identifying hazards

A complete list of the proposed standards being created by Subcommittee E54.08 on Operational Equipment is available here. The committee's next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 30–Feb. 1, 2017, in Norfolk, Va.

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