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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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G.J.M. Kruijff, F. Colas, T. Svoboda, J. van Diggelen, P. Balmer, F. Pirri, and R. Worst (2012)

Designing Intelligent Robots for Human-Robot Teaming in Urban Search & Rescue

In: Proceedings of the AAAI 2012 Spring Symposium on Designing Intelligent Robots.

The paper describes ongoing integrated research on designing intelligent robots that can assist humans in making a situation assessment during Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) missions. These robots (rover, microcopter) are deployed during the early phases of an emergency response. The aim is to explore those areas of the disaster hotzone which are too dangerous or too difficult for a human to enter at that point. This requires the robots to be “intelligent” in the sense of being capable of various degrees of autonomy in acting and perceiving in the environment. At the same time, their intelligence needs to go beyond mere task-work. Robots and humans are inter- dependent. Human operators are dependent on these robots to provide information for a situation assessment. And robots are dependent on humans to help them operate (shared control) and perceive (shared assessment) in what are typically highly dynamic, largely unknown environments. Robots and humans need to form a team. The paper describes how various insights from robotics and Artificial Intelligence are combined, to develop new approaches for modeling human robot teaming. These approaches range from new forms of modeling situation awareness (to model distributed acting in dynamic space), human robot interaction (to model communication in teams), flexible planning (to model team coordination and joint action), and cognitive system design (to integrate different forms of functionality in a single system).