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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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The new NIFTi robot platform

After a year of close cooperation with the end user organizations involved in NIFTi, the new NIFTi robot platform has arrived! BlueBotics has built 6 platforms "to specification," and at the recent NIFTi Joint Exercises in Dortmund they (the robots ...) have been put to the test ...

One of the objectives of NIFTi is to build a new robot platform (unmanned ground vehicle/UGV) purpose-built for situational assessment during the early phases of a disaster response. Together with the end user organizations involved in NIFTi we have put together a platform meets realistic specifications, while at the same time presenting a novel science & technology. 

The requirements span issues like ... 

  • size and weight: it needs to be portable ~ 25kg, and small enough to fit inside a vehicle or a helicopter
  • robustness: it needs to survive drops of anywhere between 30cm and 1m, 
  • speed: up to 5km/h on flat surfaces,
  • obstacle traversability: steps of up to 30cm, stairs with raisers up to 20cm, 40 degrees slope (NIST standard), 45 degrees slopes, roll and pitch 15 degrees ... and ground clearance of 15 cm
  • environmental protection: IP 5x dust protection, IP x3 rain protection, IP x7 lower body protection (driving thru puddles, brief immersion), ... 
  • battery power: >2 hours with full payload
These requirements are but some of the entire specification to which BlueBotics has developed the platform has been built. Six platforms have been built, and were recently "put to the test" at the NIFTi Joint Exercises in Dortmund (July 2011).  
There, we quickly found that the platform can be pushed well beyond its specifications -- that it can run for many hours on a single battery charge -- and that the combination of flexible ground clearance (15cm is standard) together with its passive/active morphology (differential-based) means that it can traverse in impressive range of (difficult) terrain types. (Even if we say so ourselves!) 

This year, we are planning to make full use of the possibilities of the platform's adaptive morphology to dynamically plan, execute, and adapt to differing terrain conditions, and to use its sensor suite (including 3D laser) to build up 3-dimensional models of the disaster area. 

For more pictures of the NIFTi platform, see our FaceBook album: [ WWW


 NIFTi rover platform


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