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About NIFTi
NIFTi is about human-robot cooperation. About teams of robots and humans doing tasks together, interacting together to try and reach a shared goal. NIFTi looks at how the robot could bear the human in mind. Literally. When determining what to do or say next in human-robot interaction; when, and how. NIFTi puts the human factor into cognitive robots, and human-robot team interaction in particular.   Each year, NIFTi evaluates its systems together with several USAR organizations. Rescue personnel teams up with NIFTi robots to carry out realistic missions, in real-life training areas. 
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NIFTi kick-off meeting

NIFTi kick-off meeting at ETH Zürich, January 25-26 2010

NIFTi kick-off meeting

Visit to the EiKdo training area near Zurich

NIFTi has started! With an official starting date of January 1 2010, we kicked-off our project at the ETH Zürich late January. 

Every partner gave presentations on their background, and their research interests in NIFTi. We had several talks about the human-robot interaction side of things: situated dialogue (DFKI), cognitive user models (TNO), and collaborative planning (ROMA). More on the robot side, we covered mapping and robot control (Fraunhofer, ETHZ), computer vision (CTU), and rover platforms (BLUE). 

NIFTi is about real systems. Robots that can work with real people. In real environments. Doing real tasks. And, preferably, doing so really effectively. 

To get there, there’s really only one way to go: Go real.  How much reality that would mean, we discovered (once more) during the kick-off. 

Two of our end-user organizations (Fire Department of Dortmund, and the Italian national fire brigade organization, Corpo Nazionale Vigili del Fuoco) gave presentations on their kinds of rescue missions, what robots they have already been using -- and, most importantly, what they would really like to be able to do with robots. The kinds we’d like to develop in NIFTi.  

Furthermore, we visited a training site of the Swiss Army rescue command (Einsatzkommando Katastrophenhilfe Bereitschaftsverband, EiKdo). An adventure to get there, ... 

 NIFTi in the back of the truck

and very instructive when it came to understanding what reality will have in store for us for the next four years ... !

      Rubble one   Almost looks like NIST Yellow ... in the Snow 
 
Needless to say, it’s challenging, and we’re looking forward to it. Altogether we have access to two training areas in Switzerland (Wangen, Geneva), one in Germany (Dortmund), and one in Italy (Monte Libretti). 

Over the next couple of months, we will be exploring by S&T integration (or vice versa). We have begun building up domain models of how rescue workers act and interact, and constructing a first integrated system. By the end of the summer, we then hope to run first system-level tests in one of the training areas we have access to. This should give us further “grounded” insights in the domain, both from the human point of view, and from the robot’s. 

In a second round, further development then focuses on getting us to our Year 1 milestone, namely human-instructed exploration. Set in a real environment of a complexity similar to the NIST Arena Yellow level, a human user is to use a GUI and spoken dialogue to instruct a robot to (jointly) explore the environment. Already at this point, the robot will have to adapt to how it cooperates with the human. They will only have 10 minutes to explore a reasonably sized area, and it’s not unlikely that the weather will be ... winterly. 

For more pictures, check out NIFTi at FaceBook

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NIFTi is an IP funded by the EU FP7 ICT programme, ICT-247870 (Cognitive Systems & Robotics unit). Project Officer: Olivier da Costa. Coordinator: Geert-Jan M. Kruijff (DFKI GmbH; gj@dfki.de)

 

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