Designing, developing, and deploying systems to support human-robot teams in disaster response
This paper describes our experience in designing, developing and deploying systems for supporting human-robot teams during disaster response. It is based on R&D performed in the EU-funded project NIFTi. NIFTi aimed at building intelligent, collaborative robots that could work together with humans in exploring a disaster site, to make a situational assessment. To achieve this aim, NIFTi addressed key scientific design aspects in building up situation awareness in a human-robot team, developing systems using a user-centric methodology involving end users throughout the entire R&D cycle, and regularly deploying implemented systems under real-life circumstances for experimentation and testing. This has yielded substantial scientific advances in the state-of-the-art in robot mapping, robot autonomy for operating in harsh terrain, collaborative planning, and human-robot interaction. NIFTi deployed its system in actual disaster response activities in Northern Italy, in July 2012, aiding in structure damage assessment.