With so many companies claiming their Emergency Response Robots are “Best in Class,” how do first responders choose the right one for their specific needs?
When the mission is saving lives, procurement cannot be based upon glossy marketing materials. To cut through the noise and evaluate the robots for deployment, an apples-to-apples comparison is needed.
S&T’s Capability Development Support Group, Office of Standards has partnered with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop a system that independently benchmarks specific robotic performance. By creating standardized metrics for testing, first responders can base their decisions on measurable criteria.
The suite of Robotic Standard Test Methods consists of more than 25 trials that simulate real-world scenarios.
Think of it as a series of “obstacle courses” specifically designed to test Emergency Response Robots in the most important tasks they might have to perform. The trials test attributes such as visual acuity, dexterity, speed, durability, and battery life, among other features. The robots are then graded on each of the tests and the results are made available to stakeholders.
The standardization and subsequent validation of Emergency Response Robot capabilities has been so successful that mobile versions of the Standard Test Method obstacle course have been duplicated for use around the globe. This mobility has dynamically increased the reach of the program.
By creating a process to standardize assessment, procurement offices for first responders have been better able to tailor purchases to their individual needs.
Unexpectedly, the process has also spawned other strong benefits. Manufacturers can now target and build their robots to perform specific tasks that are of interest to their potential clients, get direct real-time feedback from those same clients, as well as see how they stack-up against the competition.
Additionally, First Responder robot operators have begun using the facilities to practice, test and hone their abilities in the challenging real-life scenarios of the courses. This represents a huge win-win for everyone involved.
The suite of Robotic Standard Test Methods has helped organizations evaluate, analyze and make informed decisions. With lives hanging in the balance, being able to get the right robot for the right job is mission critical.