XII.2 March + April 2005
Page: 79
Digital Citation

Robot rescue camp

Jean Scholtz

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How about a really different camp! First of all, this one was not for kids-at least not below the graduate-student level. The camp was sponsored by Istituto Superiore Antincendi, the Department of Computer and Systems Science University of Rome "La Sapienza," Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fraunhofer Institut Autonome Intelligente Systeme, and Robocup. The camp was held in at the Istituto Superiore Antincendi in Rome for five days, from October 29 through November 2, 2004. The goal of the camp was to develop modules for a common search robot platform that could be used by Robocup Rescue teams to augment their own work. The lectures and practical sessions focused on five areas of urban search and rescue robotics (USAR): mobility, mapping, victim identification, human-robot interaction, and USAR simulation.

The plan was to use a pan/tilt camera along with a laser rangefinder. We wanted to be able to teleoperate the robot and move the camera at the same time, so we used a two-part joystick, with an actual joystick for one hand and a throttle on the other. At the last minute we were not able to use this camera and had to make due with an overhead camera instead. We used the throttle to control speed and the joystick to control the direction. Switches were used to change the mobility behaviors from teleoperation (manual) to one of the autonomous modes (left wall following, straight with obstacle avoidance, right wall following). The current behavior being used was displayed on the user interface. The map was not functional for this demonstration but we would implement it to include operator annotation capabilities—for victims, obstacles, and just notes of general interest.

The final demonstration integrated mobility behaviors and a laser visualization into a user interface. Camp participants were able to use the human-robot interface to drive the robot through an outdoor arena. Although the mapping behavior was not able to run in real-time, the group working on mapping was able to map the outdoor arena and this image was used as a place holder in the user interface. The simulation group was able to complete a simulation of the outdoor arena and incorporate it into their simulation environment. What made all of this remarkable was that the work was done in about 12 hours! Information about the camp including lectures for download are at

The camp was truly international-participants came from Japan, Czech Republic, Sweden, USA, Italy, and Germany. The UI team alone included campers from Japan, USA, Germany, Italy, and Israel.




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Jean Scholtz

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UF1Figure. The Robot, courtesy of the Fraunhofer Institut

UF2Figure. Using the user interface

UF3Figure. Robots operating in the outdoor test arena

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©2005 ACM  1072-5220/05/0300  $5.00

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