NIFTi – The Robot as a Team Player in Urban Search and Rescue

Since early 2010, these questions are being addressed in the collaborative research project "Natural Human-Robot Interaction in Dynamic Environments," (NIFTi). NIFTi is funded by the European Union as part of its 7th Framework Program, and is coordinated by the DFKI Language Technology Lab. NIFTi is about cooperation between robots and humans in various kinds of urban search- and rescue missions. In NIFTi, a robot connects models of how humans work with what it is supposed to do, and the actual situation in which it and its human team partners find themselves. This provides the basis on which the robot then decides how to behave as a "team player." It tries to act in the right place, time, and manner for the human to be able to optimally lead the joint efforts. Thereby, spoken dialogue between robot and human team players plays an essential role to coordinate efforts and to keep each other informed.

Each year, NIFTi evaluates its systems with several end user organizations, focusing on Urban Search & Rescue. Rescue personnel teams up with NIFTi ground and air robots in order to jointly explore a disaster area and to assess the situation. These cases are based on realistic missions, and are carried out in real-life training areas provided by the end user organizations.

The NIFTi consortium is coordinated by DFKI. It comprises TNO Human Factors, Fraunhofer IAIS, ETH Zürich, BlueBotics SA, Czech Technical University, and the La Sapienza University of Rome. The end user organizations NIFTi cooperates with are the Fire Department of Dortmund (IFR), the Italian National Rescue Services (CNVF), the Swiss Disaster Rapid Relief Command (EiKdo), and RUAG Landsystems.

NIFTi project coordinator:
Dr.ir. Geert-Jan M. Kruijff (DFKI)
Phone: +49 681 302 5153
E-mail: geert-jan.kruijff@dfki.de

DFKI Press Contact:
Reinhard Karger, M.A.
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI)
Campus D 3.2, D-66123 Saarbrücken
Phone: +49 (0)681 302 5253
Fax: +49 (0)681 302 5485
Mobile: +49 (0)151 15674571
E-Mail: reinhard.karger@dfki.de
(idw, 04/2010)

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