The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is advancing the capabilities of emergency response robots by creating a set of performance benchmarks. Trials are created specifically for remotely operated ground, aerial, and underwater vehicle systems. They are tested for mobility, manipulation, sensor accuracy, communication efficiency, operator proficiency, and its ability to conduct these tasks rapidly. The results of these tests will set the standard by which every emergency response robot will be evaluated.


With proven use in military and search & rescue organizations, Deep Trekker was invited to bring its line-up of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to Virginia Beach's Fire & EMS Training Center to aid in setting the standard for NIST's test methods of emergency response robots.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology Trials

Aquatic Vehicle Testing

The underwater section of testing includes 15 tasks for underwater drones; measuring their capabilities for responding against improvised explosive devices (C-IED) and completing a variety of hazardous underwater exercises. A shipping container is filled with water with a simulated current to mimic real life situations.

The ROVs are commissioned with the task of clasping carabiners onto hooks and then detach them, removing velcro straps, and inspecting the insides of crevasses at five different angles. These activities are conducted repeatedly at different orientations and depths to provide a clear insight into the ROV's capabilities.


The initial tasks are completed under clear, calm water to provide a baseline of the system's proficiency; once established, current and low light situations are added to measure the effectiveness of the ROV in complex environments. With its two powerful thrusters and patented pitching system, the Deep Trekker DTG2 ROV is able to combat the currents and hold its position long enough to perform the task. To counter the darkened conditions, the underwater drone is equipped with a .001 lux camera to handle low visibility waters. Additionally, lightweight sonar systems can be fitted onto either the DTG2 or DTX2 ROVs for enhanced clarity in murky environments.

Equipped with the two-function grabber, the DTG2 is able to clasp the carabiners on the hooks and remove the velcro with ease; additionally, the ROV is able to approach a hooked carabiner at different angles, even below it, to unfasten and retrieve them.

Finally, the ROVs are tested for their ability to inspect objects in various conditions; navigating the underwater drones to towards floating and submerged targets for identification within a 10-minute time limit. Speed and maneuverability are key in this task; with the ability to rotate the built-in camera 270-degrees, the DTG2 has the capability to identify the targets at every angle with haste.

For more details on the aquatic vehicle testing, visit the NIST website.

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Ground Vehicle Testing

Ground vehicles are tested by reviewing their ability to traverse through rough terrains such as building rubble or confined spaces. These units must also demonstrate their capability to close valves that pose a toxic leak threat. For more information on the ground vehicle testing, visit the NIST website. aerial-drone-testing

Aerial Vehicle Testing

Similar to the aquatic vehicle testing, the aerial drones were put through inspection and retrieval tasks within a variety of environmental situations. For more information on the aerial vehicle testing, visit the NIST website.

Get Your Hands on an Emergency Response Robot

Deep Trekker's underwater drones are tested and proven to be an asset to aquatic search & rescue missions and target identification & retrieval.

Click here get a no-obligation quote for your own emergency response underwater robot >



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