Brendan Cook | March 22nd, 2017
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 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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