Matilda and Marv robots successfully complete response robot evaluation exercise | Automation.com

Matilda and Marv robots successfully complete response robot evaluation exercise

FORT MYERS, FL - July 24, 2006 - Unmanned robotic ground vehicles Matilda and Marv participated in the Response Robot Evaluation Exercise conducted by NIST, from April 4 through April 6, 2006 at Disaster City, FEMA’s Texas Task Force 1 training facility.

Because of the complex and dynamic nature of urban search and rescue missions, and the diverse and evolving technologies present within today’s robotic systems, it is important to define performance requirements and the test methods to assess specific operational capabilities for robots applied to search and rescue missions. NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) invited Matilda and Marv to participate, which involved working with emergency responders within actual responder scenarios.

The robots, equipped with a 300x zoom color camera and a night vision camera for “eyes,” sensors for “hearing,” and a robotic arm and gripper for “reaching,” were among the 16 models from various manufacturers that participated in 10 different search and rescue scenarios. The challenges involved gaining access to damaged structures, maneuvering through complex mazes of rubble, climbing stairs, seeing and responding to the environment, and demonstrating the dexterity of the manipulator arm to locate simulated victims and identify simulated hazardous materials.

To accomplish one of the visual acuity tasks, Matilda had to maneuver the manipulator to position the camera at various heights and locations so that the operators could peer through access holes to visually identify objects inside unlit boxes.

To test further the dexterity of Matilda’s robotic arm, the operator was required to retrieve multiple objects from numerous shelves positioned at various heights while maneuvering the robot on a complex stepfield that is a complicated surface designed to test the robot’s mobility in various orientations.

To assess the robots’ speed capabilities versus their maneuverability characteristics, Matilda and Marv were run through zigzag courses on grass and on a paved surface after successfully being maneuvered through a maze constructed on a sloped floor without touching the maze walls and successfully determining the appropriate size gate through which they could pass.

“Participating in this Response Robot Evaluation Exercise was an invaluable experience for our unmanned robotic vehicles,” said Don Jones, Vice President of Mesa Robotics. “We believe that they performed extremely well in the search and rescue scenarios and demonstrated that they are rugged, reliable, versatile, and adaptable in the ever changing conditions of search and rescue missions. Innova Robotics has exclusive worldwide rights to market and sell the Mesa Robotics product line. Matilda has been used in
Afghanistan and Iraq .”

Background
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the Science and Technology Directorate Standards Program, is developing performance standards for robots intended to be used in urban search and rescue (US&R) missions. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is leading this effort with collaboration from experts within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), US&R Task Forces and other response organizations, along with robot manufacturers and researchers. In April 2006, NIST sponsored an emergency response robot evaluation exercise at Disaster City® in College Station, Texas to assess their ability to perform US&R tasks successfully. Disaster City is a 52-acre training facility created by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), a member of the Texas A&M System, that features full-scale, collapsible structures designed to simulate various levels of disaster and wreckage that can be customized for the specific training exercise. Disaster City is considered by many to be the most comprehensive emergency response training facility available.

NOTE: No implied or explicit recommendation or endorsement by NIST or any other sponsor is to be construed from the results of this evaluation exercise.

“We believe the results of this ‘Proving Ground’ test, along with their previous service in the Military arena, demonstrates to our countries first responders that our field proven unmanned robotic vehicles should be an integral part of the U.S. search and recovery tools,” said Walter K Weisel, Chairman and CEO of Innova Holdings. “Our Innova Robotics subsidiary is actively working with first responders to deploy our full line of unmanned robotic vehicles to these organizations. On July 31, 2006 I am presenting Matilda at a meeting of FBI agents.”

Mr. Weisel has been invited to address the Florida Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates Annual Training Conference on Monday, July 31, 2006, at Sanibel Harbor Resort & Spa in Fort Myers, Fla. He will discuss emerging technologies associated with robotics and how unmanned ground vehicles are increasingly playing a major role in law-enforcement operations. He will highlight real-world situations where law enforcement has benefited from robotics, citing several local and state agencies around the country, as well as the military, that are using remote-controlled unmanned vehicles.

About Innova Holdings Inc.
Fort Myers, Fla.-based Innova Holdings Inc. (BB: IVHG), through its subsidiaries, provides hardware and software systems-based solutions to the military, service, personal and industrial robotic markets. The robotics and automation technology company is chartered to continue expanding its growing suite of technologies through acquisitions and growth. Its founder, Chairman and CEO Walter K. Weisel, is recognized as a pioneer and leader in the robotics industry. The company’s wholly owned subsidiaries are Robotic Workspace Technologies Inc. (RWT), Innova Robotics Inc., and CoroWare.
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