The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has a long and distinguished history of developing standard robot test methods for ground, air, and water based robot systems.
NIST works collaboratively with public safety agencies from around the world and generously shares their work for the purpose of helping to make the world a safer place.
Having worked with NIST on air, ground, and water based test methods for many years, I jumped at the opportunity this past year to help them explore how test methods might look for a new class of ground robots that use legs for mobility in place of wheels and tracks. It was rewarding to be able to provide this feedback, given what NIST provides in support of public safety agencies around the world.
The new mobility capabilities of these emerging systems will have a dramatic effect on both business and public safety. But how do you develop new test methods for something that operates so differently from current systems?
A new test method must do several things. It must have an indentified focus which in this case is the systems mobility and ability to sense its surroundings. Other requirements for NIST test methods include the following criteria: measurability (evaluate a robots function), the testing must be replicable, and the methods must be as efficient and affordable to ensure it can be used as widely as possible.
The test methods developed here used plastic crates and wooden boards in a simple setup to test the systems, proving that effective test methods can be easily replicated in a cost effective way.
The first trials proved very effective in evaluating not only the robot but as a means to develop new operator training too. They will be the start of a continous series of adjustments and modifications as our knowledge of these systems and their capabilities continues to expand.
Lastly, I would be remiss to not thank RMUS Canada for all the support on this project.
To learn more about NIST Standard Robot Test methods go to their web page.
Below are photos of the trials from a year ago and a recent set up of a course
Setting up the first course
Putting the robot through its paces