Integrated Components for Assisted Rescue and Unmanned Search operations
As every crisis is different, it is impossible to provide one solution which fits all needs. Therefore, the ICARUS project will concentrate on developing components or building blocks that can be directly used by the crisis managers when arriving on the field. The ICARUS tools consist of assistive unmanned air, ground and sea vehicles, equipped with human detection sensors. The ICARUS unmanned vehicles are intended as the first explorers of the area, as well as in-situ supporters to act as safeguards to human personnel. The unmanned vehicles collaborate as a coordinated team, communicating via ad hoc cognitive radio networking. To ensure optimal human-robot collaboration, these ICARUS tools are seamlessly integrated into the C4I equipment of the human crisis managers and a set of training and support tools is provided to the human crisis to learn to use the ICARUS system.
Furthermore, the project aims to provide an integrated proof-of-concept solution, to be evaluated by a board of expert end-users that can verify that operational needs are addressed.
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Grant agreement ID: 285417
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ECOLE ROYALE MILITAIRE - KONINKLIJKE MILITAIRE SCHOOL
This project is featured in...
Robotic tools to better assist crisis intervention teams
Grant agreement ID: 285417
1 February 2012
31 January 2016
€ 17 306 992,64
€ 12 584 933,45
ECOLE ROYALE MILITAIRE - KONINKLIJKE MILITAIRE SCHOOL
This project is featured in...
Final Report Summary - ICARUS (Integrated Components for Assisted Rescue and Unmanned Search operations)
Recent dramatic events such as the earthquakes in Nepal and Tohoku, typhoon Haiyan or the many floods in Europe have shown that local civil authorities and emergency services have difficulties with adequately managing crises. The result is that these crises lead to major disruption of the whole local society. On top of the cost in human lives, these crises also result in financial consequences, which are often extremely difficult to overcome by the affected countries. The goal of ICARUS is to decrease the total cost of a major crisis. In order to attain this goal, the ICARUS project proposes to equip first responders with a comprehensive and integrated set of unmanned search and rescue tools, to increase the situational awareness of human crisis managers, such that more work can be done in a shorter amount of time. The importance of combining such cognitive robotic systems with on-line information networks has been recognised by the FP7-Security call 2011.4.2-2 which is the topic addressed by ICARUS.
As every crisis is different, it is impossible to provide one solution which fits all needs. Therefore, the ICARUS project will concentrate on developing components or building blocks that can be directly used by the crisis managers when arriving on the field. Furthermore, the project aims to provide an integrated proof-of-concept solution, to be evaluated by a board of expert end-users that can ensure that operational needs are addressed.
The ICARUS project deals with the development of a set of integrated components to assist search and rescue teams in dealing with the difficult and dangerous, but life-saving task of finding human survivors. The ICARUS tools consist of assistive unmanned air, ground and sea vehicles, equipped with victim detection sensors. The unmanned vehicles collaborate as a coordinated team, communicating via ad hoc cognitive radio networking. To ensure optimal human-robot collaboration, these tools are seamlessly integrated into the C4I equipment of the human crisis managers and a set of training and support tools is provided to them to learn to use the ICARUS system.
The ICARUS project does not only focus on the development of tools and services, but also on the integration of these novel tools into the standard operating procedures of the end-users. Indeed, in many cases these integration issues, procedural incompatibilities or absence of legal framework are the main bottlenecks impeding a successful deployment in practical operations and not pure technological issues. ICARUS therefore concentrates also on placing novel technological tools into the hands of the end users, thereby driving the acceptance and practical use of these tools.
Project Context and Objectives:
In the event of large crises, a primordial task of the fire and rescue services is the search for human survivors on the incident site. This is a complex and dangerous task, which - too often - leads to loss of lives among the human crisis managers themselves. The introduction of unmanned search and rescue devices can offer a valuable tool to save human lives and to speed up the search and rescue process. Therefore, ICARUS concentrates on the development of unmanned search and rescue technologies for detecting, locating and rescuing humans. In this context, there is a vast literature on research efforts towards the development of unmanned search and rescue (SAR) tools, notably in the context of EU-sponsored projects. This research effort stands in contrast to the practical reality in the field, where unmanned search and rescue tools have great difficulty finding their way to the end-users. Notable bottlenecks in the practical applicability of unmanned search and rescue tools are:
o Slow deployment time of the current generation of unmanned SAR tools
o Limited autonomy and self-sustainability of the current generation of unmanned SAR tools, both from a point of view of the robot intelligence and from an energy and mobility perspective
o Limited collaboration between unmanned SAR devices
o Insufficient integration of the current generation of unmanned SAR tools in the C4I equipment used by fire and rescue services
o Insufficient support and training are available for the end-users to learn to use the unmanned tools
o Problems of interoperability of (unmanned SAR) equipment when multi-national crisis management teams need to collaborate on an incident site
The ICARUS project addresses these issues, aiming to bridge the gap between the research community and end-users, as described in section 4.3.1. The core objective of the ICARUS project is to develop robots which have the primary task of gathering data. The unmanned SAR devices are foreseen to be the first explorers of the area, as well as in situ supporters to act as safeguards to human personnel. In order not to increase the cognitive load of the human crisis managers, the unmanned SAR devices will be designed to navigate individually or cooperatively and to follow high-level instructions from the base station. The robots connect wirelessly to the base station and to each other, using a wireless self-organising cognitive network of mobile communication nodes which adapts to the terrain. The unmanned SAR devices are equipped with sensors that detect the presence of humans and will also be equipped with a wide array of other types of sensors. At the base station, the data is processed and combined with geographical information, thus enhancing the situational awareness of the personnel leading the operation with in-situ processed data that can improve decision-making. All this information will be integrated in existing information systems, used by the forces involved in the operations. In line with the current bottlenecks, as stated above, eight main objectives are defined for the ICARUS project. These objectives address the operational needs of rescue and civil protection services and are defined and evaluated by the end-users using two main demonstration scenarios (an earthquake response and a marine incident), as described in sections 4.3.10 and 4.3.11.
Objective 1: Development of a light sensor capable of detecting human beings
The first objective is the development of a small light-weight camera system capable of detecting human survivors. These prototype cameras will have a resolution of 8x8 pixels arranged in a small array of 2x2 single chips. They will be based on novel and very promising Quantum Cascade Detector (QCD) technology. The latter will allow the manufacture of highly sensitive, low noise, narrow band IR detectors with a detection wavelength of 8 µm. This ultra-sensitive, but relatively low-resolution QCD camera will be complemented by a commercial high-resolution lower-sensitivity micro-bolometer camera. Minimal levels of weight (500 g), dimensions (12x12x6 cm) and total power consumption (5 W) are being targeted. Image and video processing algorithms for detecting human survivors will be developed and combined to obtain sufficient detection performance. Data fusion methods will be applied to images coming from different cameras, resulting in different detection algorithms. The main results of this activity are described in section 4.3.2.
Objective 2: Development of cooperative Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) tools for unmanned SAR
UAS platforms will be given a crucial role by acting as quick deployment assets in the field to provide valuable information to enhance situational awareness in support of the assessment of crisis managers, as well as to enable tactical planning and decision-making. This aerial infrastructure will also provide continuous support to coordinators and operators in the field, complementing the UGV and USV solutions. UAS platforms will be equipped with sensors tailored to SAR requirements, including the QCD camera and victim detection algorithms, allowing for the localisation and tracking of victims. In order to meet the end user demands, complementary platforms are proposed. A small long-endurance solar aeroplane is meant to provide the highest view at a maximum height of 300m, as allowed by national legislation, and therefore enabling the mapping functionality and initial victim search. Payload other than small cameras is limited, but operation times span up to a day. With shorter range and endurance, but closer to the ground and the victims, two rotary wing systems are to be deployed. A Quadrotor with a size of 1m and a maximum payload of 1kg will be used for delivery tasks outdoors and observation. A slightly smaller multicopter will be used for indoor people search. Consequently, on-board autonomous functionalities will be developed to decrease the operator workload and increase the operational efficiency in the overall C4I system. The main results of this activity are described in section 4.3.3.
Objective 3: Development of cooperative Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) tools for unmanned SAR
The ICARUS project considers the production of the two types of robotic systems, using existing base platforms:
o The Large UGV (LUGV) that shall be part of the ICARUS project shall serve as a platform fulfilling several central tasks. After being deployed close to the site of an emergency, it shall move in a semi-autonomous way in a potentially hazardous and unknown environment. The LUGV can act as a mobile sensor platform, gathering a large amount of precise data is necessary for (semi-) autonomous navigation in challenging environments as well as for the support of emergency teams. The UGV shall also be used to transport the small UGV and shall be equipped with a powerful manipulator that can be used to clear the vehicle’s path from obstacles like small debris.
o A smaller UGV shall gather more information about areas which the LUGV cannot reach. The small UGV will be able to enter in collapsed buildings to search for human victims, an extremely dangerous but also life-saving task. The SUGV will be equipped with a propulsion system allowing it to manoeuvre in highly unstructured environments like collapsed buildings.
The main results of this activity are described in section 4.3.4.
Objective 4: Development of cooperative Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) tools for unmanned SAR
This project proposes two main lines of work in order to address the identified demands. On one hand the project will present the instrumentation of a survival capsule to allow its motion towards survivors at the surface. On another hand the project will undertake the adaptation of a medium size USV for search and rescue operations. Existing survival capsules that usually inflate when deployed allow survivors to climb aboard providing extra floatation and thermal insulation. The incorporation of power generation capabilities, a minimal set of instruments, basic communication equipment, and motion capabilities on board these capsules, will increase the lifesaving capabilities of such devices allowing their use in scenarios with reduced accessibility for other search and rescue services. USVs, as unmanned systems, allow remote human intervention under severe environmental conditions without putting additional people at risk. They have therefore a large potential for SAR operations at sea, especially under bad weather conditions with low visibility. The main results of this activity are described in section 4.3.5.
Objective 5: Heterogeneous robot collaboration between Unmanned Search and Rescue devices
This objective is focused on a key enabling technology concept for the safe integration of autonomous platforms into search and rescue operations: the heterogeneous network. The project specifically addresses the intrinsic capabilities and characteristics of a given platform, and how these characteristics are communicated, understood, and exploited by the rest of the SAR system (including human teams, infrastructures, and other autonomous vehicles within the ICARUS integration concept). The present objective therefore addresses the integration of heterogeneous teams into a single, unified, interoperable system through establishing and demonstrating the interactions and use cases of different vehicle types. The application of search and rescue influences the definition and interactions of the network, and this project objective addresses the interoperability challenges and the robust definition and specification of tasks, and roles and responsibilities between the autonomous capacity of the heterogeneous team and the mission-level tasking and supervision of the C2I system in network-centric operations. The main results of this activity are described in section 4.3.6.
Objective 6: Development of a self-organising cognitive wireless communication network, ensuring network interoperability
ICARUS will develop a network infrastructure which adapts to and, at the same time, takes advantage of the peculiarities of the posed SAR scenarios. A holistic approach will be followed, reusing state-of-the art solutions conveniently and focusing investigation on unsolved challenging issues:
o Mobile and wireless ad-hoc communications in combined land-air-sea environments with robotic and human actors, supporting both Line-of-Sight (LOS) and non-LOS scenarios.
o Self-coordination and optimisation of spectrum resources by using cross-layer cognitive radio techniques maximising network usability and minimising interferences.
o Self-managed network able to adapt to varying and extreme conditions by using power-efficient, failure-resilient protocols (e.g. active routing, data-replication, store-and-forward) and convenient guidance of robotic network nodes with specific communication capabilities.
o Flexible security scheme providing granular encryption, integrity and authentication.
o A harmonised management and control overlay on top of a highly robust waveform, able to encompass several data-link technologies (WLAN, GSM) ensuring interoperability.
The main results of this activity are described in section 4.3.7.
Objective 7: Integration of Unmanned Search and Rescue tools in the command and control systems of the Human Search and Rescue forces
ICARUS aims at developing (robot) platform independent monitoring and control capabilities that will be able to handle, process and integrate a wide variety of data flows coming from sources such as the robotic platforms’ sensors, human beings (bystanders) in the field, GIS displaying a priori knowledge about the intervention field, etc. The resulting information and knowledge will primarily be exploited at the command and control application level, in order to effectively provide human operators with a high level of awareness allowing them to lead the robotic activities in a coordinated way with humans on field activities. As a noticeable feature, the command and control centre will provide a haptic tele-presence workstation allowing real-time control of haptic compliant robotic arms. The command and control system will be designed to promote interoperability of the controlled systems, as well as aiming for seamless integration into existing infrastructure and applications used by first responders. The main results of this activity are described in section 4.3.8.
Objective 8: Development of a training and support system for the developed Unmanned Search and Rescue Tools for the Human Search and Rescue teams
In the ICARUS project several types of unmanned vehicles will be used, so from a training point of view the main objective is to deliver software tools that can simulate such a system. Different types of simulation (ground, air, water) will be developed and integrated to perform complex training of future ICARUS operators. The training tool will be capable of simulating predefined scenarios where virtual robots would send sensor data to the Command and Control Component operated by rescue services so that they can assess the simulated emergency and act accordingly. Furthermore, scenarios could be recorded from past events and then re-run for training purposes by using this tool. The Command and Control Component for support rescue services will integrate all sources of spatial information such as maps of the affected area, satellite images and sensor data coming from the unmanned robots in order to provide a situation snapshot to the rescue team and thus facilitate decision-making. The interactive human-machine interface that uses semantic information to operate robots will be used for rescue operations. The Command and Control Component will equip rescue teams with ICARUS robots. Control decisions will be coordinated and supervised and therefore tasks will be executed with decreased risk. The main results of this activity are described in section 4.3.9.
4.3.1. USER-CENTERED DESIGN REQUIREMENTS
ICARUS is an end-user driven project, aiming to bridge the gap between the end users and the research community. This is a key differentiating factor and focus point of the ICARUS project. Indeed, it has no sense to invest in the development of high-tech tools when these tools are not useable by the end users on the terrain in practice. It has been the main focus of ICARUS to always let the end users drive the developments, by letting them define the user requirements, involving them in the tool development process and certainly let them assess the final resulting products in operational validation scenarios. Furthermore, it has to be taken into account that the practical use on the terrain of the ICARUS tools stands or falls with the acceptance of these tools by the end users. Therefore, we have gone through great efforts to put these tools in the hands of the end-users, explaining them the advantages of the systems and – maybe even more importantly – also pointing out the disadvantages and the limitations.
A major testimony of the statement that ICARUS is very committed to end user validation, driving acceptance and to the integration of the unmanned tools into the standard operating procedures of relief workers was the intervention with an unmanned system in a real crisis theatre, in response to the floods in Bosnia - Herzegovina. In spring 2014, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia were hit hard by catastrophic massive flooding, leading to at least 53 deaths and affecting millions of people. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated due to the catastrophic crisis and (among many others) the Belgian state offered help by sending in the B-FAST team. Along with the B-FAST team, ICARUS partner RMA sent an expert in robotics and an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) in order to assist the team for task such as damage assessment, dike breach detection, mapping, aerial inspection and for re-localizing the many explosive remnants of war which had been displaced due to the landslides and which created an extremely dangerous situation for the local population and the relief workers. To our knowledge, this was the first ever international deployment of an unmanned aerial system by an official state-run USAR team (so, not an NGO, relief organization, manufacturer, technology center, ..) in another country. The mission was highly successful, providing assistance on the crisis sites not only for several international relief teams (B-FAST, THW, ...) but also for the Bosnian Mine Action Centre. As we were during the mission tightly integrated with these end-users and their procedures, this provided a deep insight in their requirements, procedures, indica-ting also the bottlenecks towards the integration of unmanned systems in the standard operating procedures of the SAR workers.
One of the most important ICARUS actions related to the end users relations was the compilation of the user requirements. A dual approach was followed specifically tailored towards the USAR and MSAR users. The SAR end-user community was prospected to select key players that would be willing to collaborate, thereby using multiple methods of information gathering: membership of the end-user board, online surveys, personal interviews with key stakeholders and – most importantly - involvement and feedback from end users during operational tests of prototype ICARUS systems. The result of all these activities culminated in the compilation of a user requirements document defining clearly the needs of urban and marine SAR teams related to unmanned tools. This document is of high value as it can also be used an input to policy for the introduction of unmanned tools is SAR operations. Both UN-INSARAG and EU-DG-ECHO have therefore already shown their interest in this work.
The information from the end-users was transformed into an architectural solution, thereby specifying the requirements of all systems involved in ICARUS. To assess the performance of the final systems against these user and system requirements, operational validation scenarios were defined for all ICARUS components. The approach followed for conceptualizing the validation scenarios is inspired by the approach followed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). In this context, each of the validation scenarios consists of three aspects: a detailed scenario, a capability score sheet and a score sheet for the different metrics (Key Performance Indicators). This makes it possible to qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate the performance of the different tools during the demonstrations, following standardised procedures as defined in an operational service validation scenarios definition document. This is again a very important document, with a high potential impact as all unmanned tools which would in the future be integrated in SAR operations will be required to be tested, validated and certified using agreed procedures and this document spreads a basis for doing this work. For this reason, the work done in this context has received interest from UN-INSARAG, EU-DG-ECHO and the Japanese government.
ICARUS made a point of deeply committing end-users with its activities. As a testimony to this statement it can be mentioned that the final land demonstration was attended by around 100 key stakeholders. ICARUS was also recognized as an important player by end-user organisations, which led to invitations for high level events, such as the UN World Conference in Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan and the yearly UN-INSARAG team leaders meetings and the 2015 INSARAG Global Meeting. Also on more policy related matters, ICARUS was able to make an impact, as ICARUS had the honour to be invited by DG-ECHO to set up an outdoor demonstration during the EU Civil Protection Forum, where Mr Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management inspected the ICARUS tools during the first-ever legal flight of an RPAS in the EU capital (organized by ICARUS).
In collaboration with the CRASAR team in the USA, a set of best practices towards end-users was compiled based on lessons learnt from real operations and technological innovations obtained. These best practices provide a quick reference guide for governments agencies and NGO’s who want to incorporate unmanned tools in their operations. This best practices document is highly requested by stakeholders.
One of the most critical and important tasks for crisis management in case of a large-scale disaster is the search for human survivors. To maximize the chances of survival, victims have to be fount as fast and efficient as possible. Icarus has proven that unmanned vehicles equipped with advanced sensing technology are an excellent choice for this task, which have numerous advantages compared to classical human search and rescue teams. An integral part of the overall concept is optical sensing technology, which has to be combined with fast data acquisition, processing, and software for human detection. The partners in the Sensing Workpackage addressed the major challenges for hard and software systems for victim detection on unmanned vehicles.
In a first step, a detailed evaluation of the requirements for optical systems for victim detection was performed. User cases were considered and a high level architecture was developed. An analysis and comparison of commercial visible and infrared cameras was provided.
For many systems, commercial visible and infrared cameras are sufficient. Mechatronics integration was performed and the Icarus Common Sensing and Processing Unit was developed. For airborne detection, the best solution is the Visual Inertial (VI) – Sensor. It has been successfully integrated into three of the ICARUS UAS fleet, namely the endurance airplane, the outdoors Quadrotor, and the Multicopter.
The ICARUS Common Sensing and Processing Unit is based on two commercial visible light cameras for stereo-vision and one FLIR camera for mid-infrared vision. It was integrated into several ICARUS platforms
Commercial mid-infrared cameras have limited detection speed and it is difficult to achieve low noise levels. The partners in the Sensing Workpackage investigated if these challenges can be overcome using another approach for semiconductor mid-infrared cameras. They developed the first quantum cascade detector (QCD) pixel arrays. In combination with the commercial FLIR camera that operates in a different spectral region, this will enable differentiation between black-body radiation sources and other heat sources, allowing separating humans from other hot objects.
In a first step, the work package partners theoretically investigated photonic cascade semiconductors and developed novel simulation tools for photonic semiconductor structures. These simulations were the foundation for optimized designs, which were successfully produced in semiconductor growth facilities in Austria. The WP partners achieved a major break-through in quantum-cascade detector technology. The semiconductor chips represent now the current state of the art: they have an order of magnitude higher responsivity than previously achieved for QCDs. The ICARUS partners developed the first quantum cascade pixel array detector that was ever manufactured. They achieved a full processing cycle for the QCD detector, starting from the semiconductor growth and finishing with the final detector.
The WP partners achieved a scientific breakthrough in photonic semiconductors that have high visibility and make QCDs highly attractive for numerous novel applications. Icarus results enabled a new approach for a sensing device that was honoured with the Photonics21 Student Innovation Award.
From semiconductor chip to final hermetically sealed detector
An environment hostile to electronics and harsh conditions during the field of applications is a major challenge for the detector housing, which greatly affects the camera systems in addition to high mechanical loads on the vehicles. To meet these requirements, the WP partners developed an appropriate integration and packaging technology, which is fully hermetically sealed and supports operation at environmental temperatures.
Moreover, the partners showed a proof-of-principle experiment for remote CO2 detection, demonstrating that systems for survivor detection based on this technology are in principle feasible.
Another important task in the Sensing Workpackage was the development of control, acquisition, and detection software. Control software addressing individual detector elements for processing on the ICARUS host platform was successfully developed. Efficient methods for stereovision and camera calibration were implemented and software development for human detection based on data from all camera types was finished.
4.3.3. UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS
The ICARUS unmanned aerial systems (UAS) consist of a team of aerial robots. Their main objectives is to provide fast and reliable aerial information to the search and rescue (SAR) teams during their planning and mission phase improving the time to rescue and the efficient allocation of the SAR resources.
Three different robots are developed and adapted for assistance of the SAR teams. They all equip the same visual-inertial sensor developed for the UAS. This sensor suite can synchronise visual and thermal images together with IMU data which can be used for further map generation.
The solar powered fixed-wing UAS AtlantikSolar has improved endurance capabilities to stay airborne for multiple days due to the integrated solar cells on the wings. This was shown with a successful flight demonstration to break a new world record of over 81 hours continuous flight by travelling 2316km in July 2015 in Switzerland. The integrated autopilot can effectively track a given waypoint path while copying with strong winds and is capable of autonomous landing. Thus, it can autonomously execute an inspection mission while covering a large area or simply stay airborne and act as a communication relay with its integrated WiFi antenna. It only needs high-level supervision over the C2I while controlling the UAS.
The equipped payload consists of a visual and thermal camera to provide aerial imagery. Together with its fast deployment time, the fixed-wing UAS is an effective mean to gather first visual information from the disaster area. After returning from its mission, the stored imagery are downloaded to the ground station where the imagery is processed to build a dense 3D map of the environment.
Furthermore, victims can be detected using the combined visual and thermal images. A notification is send to the C2I system such that the SAR teams are aware of potential victim locations.
The visual information gathered form the fixed-wing UAS are taken from a height of approximately 200 m above ground, thus it cannot provide information of specific disaster side details. Thus, by arriving at the disaster side, the SAR teams can deploy the rotary-wing UAS AROT. The SAR teams can use the AROT UAS to gather information about object with a high rate of detail and precision. Its capability to hover enables it to fly at close proximity to interesting object.
The AROT UAS is equipped with both visual and thermal cameras. A high power processor can calculate a detailed map of the object online and send it to the C2I. The UGVs and SAR teams can use this information to plan their further actions. The integrated victim detection algorithm can automatically detect victims, to verify the victims found by the fixed-wing UAS and to detect missed ones. Close inspection of the victims can give some visual feedback of their health. Thy UAS can track the victims until help is arriving or it can use the integrated delivery mechanism to drop a lightweight emergency kit or a water bottle to help the victims directly.
The UAS provides direct visual feedback for the pilot to control the UAS. Its versatile control provides different types of user interaction with the pilot ranging from complete manual control, position hold to complete waypoint following and autonomous start and landing from the C2I depending on the mission objective.
The indoor multirotor UAS is capable of providing first-hand information of potentially collapsed indoor environments. The UAS has a small footprint, which allows easy access into building by small holes or open windows. Protection units can protect the propeller from unintentional hits with the surroundings. It has the advantage to fly and explore obstructed buildings, which are hardly to be trespassed by UGVs and too dangerous for being accessed by people. Its focus relies on providing a live feed from its visual and thermal cameras to the SAR teams.
In order to fly in such cluttered environments, the UAS has a high autonomy. It can used the stereo camera set to identify online the obstacles in the rooms. It generates an occupancy grid map and localise itself within it. With this map, it is aware of potential obstacles and autonomously avoids them. It can be tele-operated over visual feedback to fly from room to room. Further, it can communicate and be operated over the C2I system and send the visual and thermal streams. Using the live imagery, the SAR teams can thus search for victims inside the building and gain insight of the building and its structural stability.
4.3.4. UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLES
Two UGVs were employed in ground operations, the SUGV and LUGV (Small and Large Unmanned Ground Vehicle).
The LUGV was used in the project as tele-operated heavy duty ground robot.
The main intended task for this machine is to grant access to the SAR wherever the way is obstructed by debris.
During the deployment phase LUGV is able to follow a path composed by multiple waypoints, localizing itself using the GPS and other navigation sensors.
A pair of laser scanners mounted both forward and backward and a stereo-camera allow proper environment sensing with the aim to avoid eventual obstacles and create a navigation map.
The safety during navigation is provided by a safety chain consisting of four emergency stop buttons on the machine (one per each side) and a wireless emergency stop control. Whenever one of the button is pressed or the communication with the wireless control is lost for some reason the robot motion is completely stopped and broken, as well as the arm.
A gas sensor was mounted during the final demonstration to alarm SAR operators in case of leakage of hazardous gases.
The LUGV demonstrated to be able to break concrete walls and to remove debris obstructing access to destroyed buildings. These tasks were performed mounting either a jackhammer or a gripper on its hydraulic arm, with the operator controlling the manipulator using a remote control. In test phase such arm was proven to be controlled by the exoskeleton from WP320.
Mounting instead a box on the arm it is relatively easy to transport SUGV and deploy it on top of the roof of a building whose access from ground level is not possible.
LUGV deploying SUGV on a roof LUGV removing debris
The SUGV has a configuration that is similar to LUGV but its intended scope is different. Its compact dimensions make it suitable for entering level buildings, exploring and looking for victims.
With a camera mounted on the arm’s gripper it is able to extend visual feedback to small holes and inaccessible corners.
Equipped with caterpillars, it can drive over rubble, stairs and uneven ground.
Beside the basic telemetry sensors it is possible to notice two small laser scanners on the sides and a Kinect2 device in the front, such sensors provide a 3D point cloud that is used for mapping and navigation.
In a similar way as LUGV, a two-dimensional map is created on-board and used for safe navigation. The collision avoidance software helps the operator to drive safely in hazardous environment without hitting obstacles. Such feature becomes critical when the delay in communication makes difficult a precise motion control.
Cameras are mounted on the gripper, on the forward and backward side. A CO2 sensor provides measurements about CO2 level in the air.
After locating a possible victim a voice communication between the latter and the SAR operator is possible via the speaker and microphone available on SUGV. Basic instructions can be given to reassure the victim and an emergency kit or water bottle can be carried.
SUGV was connected to the C2I framework and controlled remotely by the operator using a joypad and the feedback from cameras and other sensors. The C2I operator has several information about the robot such as its GPS position, inclination, battery level, CO2 readings and manipulator joints values. The motion can be controlled manually with the joypad or semi-autonomously sending a list of GPS waypoints that the robot has to reach in sequence.
The communication with the C2I was done using an improved wireless infrastructure. For this reason, a communication box and several omnidirectional antennas were mounted on top.
An important feature realized within the project was the haptic control of the manipulator using the exoskeleton provided by WP320. Standing in front of the C2I control station, the operator was able to open a door from the handle using only the visual feedback from the manipulator camera and a 3D model of the arm position.
To help the operator in opening doors and manipulating objects a laser pointer has been mounted on the gripper. Such pointer projects a light pattern on to the object to be grasped, basing on the pattern size and shape the operator can estimate the distance between the gripper and the object.
4.3.5. UNMANNED MARITIME PLATFORMS
Development of a robotized survival capsule
The robotized survival capsule is a robotic surface platform that carries an uninflated life raft and is able to inflate it close to survivors. Due to its characteristics, the capsule can approach survivors without endangering them and automatically inflate the life raft close to them. It constitutes, therefore, the last element in the ICARUS integrated toolkit for maritime search and rescue.
This capsule can perform autonomous operations or be remotely operated from a control station, through a radio link. It is equipped with several sensors including a video camera to gather information about the victims state.
Robotized capsule with life raft before inflation (left) and after inflation (right).
The capsule is 1.5m long and 0.5m wide and weights 20kg. It has a payload capacity exceeding 15kg, allowing for the transportation of a 4 people life raft. It is propelled by a fully protected water jet system powered by an electric engine. It can reach a top speed of 5 knots and can operate for 20min at a 3knots, resulting in a maximum range of 2km.
Development of capsule deployment system
The capsule deployment system is a mechanical structure that can the adapted to different unmanned surface vessels (USVs) in order to carry robotized capsules to remote areas and launch them near detected victims. It was designed in a modular way so that it can be used to transport one or more capsules and be installed on USVs with different characteristics. To increase flexibility and simplify installation procedures, these structures also include an electronics box that is responsible for the release of the capsules via a radio command.
Deployment system installed on U-Ranger USV (left) and ROAZ II USV (right).
USV Sensing and Perception
The following results were obtained:
• Algorithms for the detection of victims on the water using visible and thermal cameras and geo-referencing of their position, allowing for detections at distances up to 200 m;
• Algorithms for detection of obstacles on the water combining information from multiple sensors, including radar and multilayer laser scanner.
USV Behavior sets
• Development and implementation of high level behaviors on USVs endowing them with increased autonomy allowing remote operators or mission supervisors to focus on payload data (victim detection, situation awareness) rather than in the operation of the USVs themselves; these behaviors include loitering, waypoint tracking, obstacle avoidance, and dynamic reference tracking;
Development and implementation of reactive collision avoidance modes on USVs in accordance to COLREGs (International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea), increasing the safety of USV operation and contributing
4.3.6. HETEROGENEOUS TEAMS AND NETWORK CENTRIC OPERATIONS
The ICARUS project involves a team of assistive unmanned air, ground and sea vehicles. In order to support the human crisis managers, they must collaborate as a coordinated, seamlessly-integrated team in the single Command and Control Station (C2I) in the field.
A heterogeneous fleet is the one composed by elements of different types such as the ICARUS team that includes up to nine different types of vehicles. Each of these robots has been developed by a different ICARUS partner, using their own designs, development frameworks and middlewares. Thus, a strong effort had to be devoted to their integration as a single team, which was the responsibility of this work package.
The ultimate objective was to achieve systems interoperability, which can be understood as the ability of robots to operate in synergy to the execution of assigned missions and, therefore, enables diverse teams to work together, sharing data, intelligence and resources. ICARUS has proposed the adaptation of all the vehicles to a single standard external interface as a method to ensure interoperability. Each single team kept using their own tools inside their systems as long as the interaction with the rest of the team was ruled by an interoperability standard. This approach provided a common framework for the development of the unmanned assets, minimizing the integration time and costs by avoiding custom implementations.
Our strategy in terms of interoperability was to build upon existing body of work in the field, avoiding duplicating and re-inventing proven technology. During the initial steps of the work, the most relevant multi-domain interoperability protocols for unmanned systems were identified and evaluated against the ICARUS requirements and foreseen scenarios. As an outcome of this analysis, the ICARUS standard interface for interoperability is heavily based on the Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS). Gaps identified during the analysis were filled by extending the protocol with the required functionality.
All this functionality is provided to the robot manufacturers as a software library referred to as ICARUS interoperability layer. Just by instantiating a software module named JAUSRobot, the vehicles automatically become compliant with the standard. This module acts as a bridge between their internal and external worlds. This interoperability layer is also responsible for the integration of the ICARUS communication network and the Command and Control Station on each individual platform.
Robot’s adaptation strategy
The validation of these developments were organized as a series of operations involving different combinations of pairs of air, ground and sea vehicles during the integration trials carried out in 2014. The aim was to demonstrate the achievements in terms of system interoperability. Some examples of the multi-robot collaboration experimented during ICARUS are described here and illustrated in the images below:
• Multi-stage aerial reconnaissance, mapping and victim search: a fixed-wing UAV provides an initial assessment of the disaster area to identify the critical sectors, followed by an outdoors multirotors UAV providing a close-up look at a single sector.
• Multi-domain indoors victims search: a small ground robot and a small indoors multirotors cooperate in search for survivors inside a building.
• Multi-domain victims search in water: a fixed-wing, a multirotor and surface vehicles cooperate searching for survivors in the water.
Examples of collaborative mapping and victim search missions:
Multi-UAV operating outdoors (top left), Ground+Aerial operating indoors (top right), Aerial+Sea missions (bottom)
After this mid-project validations by pairs, three full-team validations were performed during the final project demonstrations:
• the maritime trials and demonstration in Alfeite, Lisbon (Portugal) in July 2015,
• the land trials and demonstration in Marche-en-Famenne (Belgium) in August 2015
• and the participation in the euRathlon competition in September 2015 where the project received the Best Multi-Robot Coordination Award by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS)
Together, these large-scale operational exercises complete the validation of the ICARUS interoperability standard interface. Therefore, ICARUS as a project has demonstrated multi-domain multi-robot heterogeneous interoperability in realistic Search and Rescue operations.
ICARUS Tactical Communications Network
Communications (COM) have become a key concern in large crisis events which involve numerous organisations, human responders and an increasing amount of unmanned systems which offer precious but bandwidth-hungry situational awareness capabilities. The ICARUS team in charge of COM provisioning —lead by INTEGRASYS with contributions from RMA and QUOBIS— has designed, implemented and tested in real-life conditions an integrated multi-radio tactical network able to fulfil the new demands of cooperating high-tech search and rescue teams acting in incident spots. The ICARUS network offers interoperable and reliable communications with particular consideration of cooperative unmanned air, sea and land vehicles
During the final project demonstrations conducted at the Almada Camp of the Portuguese Navy and the Roi Albert Camp of the Belgium Army, the ICARUS network and associated tools have provided significant value for mission commanders along different mission phases. First, as a powerful deployment planning tool; and second, as a network management and optimisation tool able to seamlessly connect all robots telemetry and tele-control capabilities to the ICARUS C2I stations, mitigating eventual coverage and throughput shortcomings arising during operations.
ICARUS COM working in the Land Demonstration
Communications interoperability and performance optimisation
A real-time management and control middleware (COMMW) has been the key piece enabling interoperable and resilient tactical communications in the ICARUS scenario of crisis response operations covering air/sea/land portable and mobile nodes.
The COMMW stack has been designed with fast deployment, interoperability and performance-based, real-time self-management capabilities in mind. It uses standard datalink technologies (ETSI DMR and IEEE 802.11x) to transparently offer an unified communication capability. Applications are provided with flexible end-to-end connectivity and data transfer patterns (including raw transport of application data over the link layer) along with high-granularity Quality of Service; hiding low-level details of underlying datalinks. One of the application interfacing options supported in the COMMW is the JAUS robotic middleware used in ICARUS.
A combination of both centralized and peer-to-peer algorithms provide adaptive and harmonised handling of radio channels − using a cognitive spectrum approach − as well as link-layer and network-layer addressing, routing and capacity management functions; allowing for rapid deployments under unknown spectrum occupancy conditions, harsh propagation environments, large throughput demands and varying platforms constrains.
The COMMW has been implemented on open, Linux-based embedded computing platforms with proper kernel and user-space extensions enabling an overall optimisation of the network stack; including the queuing components present in the system data path which may largely affect throughput and latency of applications.
Regarding WLAN datalinks, the COMMW handles a full-mesh network where key system parameters affecting the overall network performance − particularly range and throughput − are controlled and optimised in real-time according to predefined and reconfigurable operator policies. These parameters refer to three distinct areas: i) radio link, ii) CSMA/EDCA protocols and ii) mesh routing protocols
Left: SUGV COM box and set of antennas; Right: ICARUS DMR hardware transceiver
The DMR datalink technology provides coverage over long ranges (typically beyond 5 km in open areas) and can handle both voice and low-rate data. The so-called soft-DMR modem implemented in ICARUS enables adaptation of key transmission parameters (e.g. coding rate, delivery mode, channel access mode or power) on a per- flow basis, accounting for traffic type (data or voice) and required delay and reliability. Furthermore, a node discovery service and a capacity management protocol (allowing allocation of throughput levels per node) were implemented to strength the networking aspects of DMR. All these characteristics make the soft-DMR well suited for networked tactical and mission critical applications.
The COMMW framework seamlessly integrates and jointly manages both WLAN and DMR links described above according to dynamic mission requirements.
During implementation, ICARUS has made use of HW/SW mass-market technologies thoroughly engineered for professional performance exploiting unlicensed spectrum in UHF, 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands. In real safety-critical operations, access to radio spectrum with proper EIRP limits must be guaranteed to ensure required throughput and operation in long ranges or harsh propagation scenarios such as rubble or indoor. The COMMW includes by-design specific provisions to ease integration of new datalink technologies and extend operation to new frequency bands, by adapting the cognitive radio functions to implement any required spectrum access rules. Existing 802.11 COTS professional transceivers which can tuned to operate in any band up to 6Ghz will allow to readily reuse all of the COMMW/COMCON 802.11 capabilities in low-frequency spectrum particularly suitable and eventually protected for Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) applications. In the migration phase towards commercialisation, the team is also working on the integration of LTE services; either commercial (if available on crisis location) or PPDR-specific (e.g. operating in the 700MHz) to be used as a complementary incident-spot capacity as an interconnection means between distant incident-spots. While low-layer LTE functions would be out of control of ICARUS COM reducing optimisation possibilities, the framework is already able to evaluate in real-time the throughput and latency offered by external networks, which would be used to manage the available capacity as a whole.
Communication management tools for mission operators
The ICARUS COMMW provides a convenient set of tools for mission network operators for easy configuration of COMMW nodes based on capacity allocation targets for both locally-generated and relayed traffic; differentiating among individual application flows and supporting latency, reliability and security requirements in addition to throughput. Operators are provided with a set utilities for guidance on setting the different configuration parameters. Such settings can be changed dynamically during the mission execution.
Furthermore, a rich graphical environment called COM console (COMCON) has been developed to support planning, supervision and optimisation of the integrated multi-radio tactical network, combining simulation features with real-time Monitoring & Control capabilities.
At planning phase, the COMCON accurately characterizes COM components, propagation environments, RF interference and vehicles platforms in order to assess global network performance over wide operation areas; as well as the performance of individual terminals along given mission routes. This allows in particular to take proper decisions on radio bands and channels; antennas pattern/polarization and transceiver features for every node in the network. Furthermore, the eventual need and location of network relays can be assessed. The tool includes in particular UHF/2.4GHz/5GHz propagation models for indoor, rubble and sea environments; as well as protocol models of 802.11 mesh networks enabling informed planning of CSMA-related parameters and reliable estimation of throughput performance.
ICARUS COM Console used in mission planning and in mission operations
At operations phase, the COMCON features a centralized monitoring of all key parameters affecting the network performance, allowing to mitigate coverage and throughput problems by timely reconfiguration and eventual reallocation of nodes. Some optimisation actions −those of limited scope− are performed automatically by the COMMW itself, while some others −those of wider scope− will require human operator intervention to decide the best solution given the current mission conditions.
4.3.8. COMMAND AND CONTROL
The Command, Control and Intelligence (C2I) system is the central system for generating joint Search and Rescue (SAR) mission plans consisting of humans and unmanned systems, commanding and monitoring these assets during field operations. The C2I system consists of the following sub-systems:
• Mission Planning and Coordinating System (MPCS)
• Robot Command and Control center (RC2)
• Portable Exoskeleton
• Mobile first responder device
The MPCS is a browser based utility that gathers mission functionalities by facilitating central mission planners to specify missions over an intuitive graphical interface. Maps hosted within a local Geographic Information System (GIS) forms the basis of this SAR mission planning system. A set of tools are provided to support mission planners to author SAR mission tasks based on specified objectives, the assembly analysis of data collected from the mission sections (Common Operational Picture – COP), visualization or rendering of these data by users and high level monitoring of mission execution. The MPCS is primarily connected to the SAR first responders – essentially embodied as RC2s and to external global crisis data sources such as MapAction and GDACS.
The RC2 is a standalone software application that provides the primary field operator user interface and includes all the tools necessary to monitor and control the multi-domain robots (UAV, UGV and USV) simultaneously. The RC2 hardware is designed for outdoor use, keeping in line with the end user requirements. The system consists of a rugged laptop within a portable ruggedized case integrated with secondary displays, joystick controllers, power supply and wireless communication antennas. Initial tasks are to synchronize mission plans and external crisis data, and deploy the RC2 to the relevant sector designated by the MPCS. The RC2 provides user interfaces and data critical for the command and control of multiple, heterogeneous robots and allows first responders with mobile devices to receive the latest mission updates and sectors maps. Robot specific sensor data (cameras, 3D point clouds, robot health etc.) acquired at the RC2 through the ICARUS mesh communication framework can be visualized, geotagged and fused into the embedded map client which is connected to a local GIS repository. Robot specific commands and operations are dynamically configured and made available to the RC2 operator.
The wearable exoskeleton is composed of a 7 degrees of freedom arm (from the shoulder to the wrist). It is mainly based on rapid prototyping process (laser sintering) with Alumide (composite aluminium and polyamide) and PA-GF (glass fiber reinforced polyamide). The exoskeleton allows the RC2 operator to control a robot arm mounted on a ground robot intuitively and accurately, augmented with force feedback. It interfaces with the RC2 providing high fidelity haptic rendering consisting of a 3D visual interface of the robot model and its immediate environment.
Using a mobile device, first responders can push and pull messages, photos and position information over the network to the RC2. The mobile application has been deployed on an Android device. All mobile devices connect over Wifi to the GIS in the RC2 within its vicinity. A SAR responder can insert geotagged images and messages and access latest map updates, geotagged messages, robot positons and information from other SAR responders.
4.3.9. TRAINING AND SUPPORT
Mobile Data Center
The ICARUS HPC (High Performance Computing) solution is based on a Server Supermicro RTG-RZ-1240I-NVK2 shown in the figure below. This server supports NVIDIA GRID and CUDA Technology and provides a parallel programming solution for processing large data sets. This server makes it possible that data from many sources (UxV) can be efficiently integrated and visualised over Ethernet. The server was embedded into a ruggedized chassis. The chassis can by carried by two people. The chassis protects the server from vibrations and mechanical stress. It is extended by a mobile display-keyboard-mouse component for on-site server management purposes. It is a fully integrated and autonomous solution. It requires 2kV AC power. The communication system is based on a WiFi router that can establish a local network within a range of 25m. In the case of access to Ethernet, the server is connected directly to the network. It can also be integrated with a regular Data Centre.
HPC solution for ICARUS project is based on Server Supermicro RTG-RZ-1240I-NVK2.
Unmanned Mobile Mapping System (UMMS)
The UMMS for the ICARUS project can be equipped with different 3D sensors. The first configuration is composed of a 3D Z+F Imager 5010 laser measurement system. In this configuration, the system has a scanning range of 170m with an accuracy of ca.1mm. The platform is also prepared to work with other, custom-made, scanning systems of different range and accuracy.
Unmanned Mobile Mapping System
Mission Planning Control Station
The MPCS (Mission Planning Control Station) is a crucial part of the Remote Command and Control Station (RC2) that is dedicated to the initial planning of the search and rescue mission. The MPCS is connected to the RC2’s of unmanned platforms and shares a common interface with the former. Mission plans created in the MPCS can be passed directly to the operator console. The MPCS training concentrates on familiarizing the user with the MPCS interface and functionalities. It consists of a user manual describing in detail each of the elements of MPCS and a set of simple exercises to familiarize the user with the tools. These exercises can also be used to verify the readiness of the trainee.
ICARUS Support System
The ICARUS support system is dedicated to handling all data gathered during the course of a rescue operation. The system consists of software for data preparation, matching processing and visualization as well as interface tools that allow the user to modify and better explore the dataset. During the evaluation phase, all this software was tested and adjusted to better suit the end user needs. The main functionalities of support system that were evaluated are:
• Raw 3D scan matching and creating 3D models.
• 3D point clouds processing and classification.
• Visualization of 3D data.
• Working with 3D data.
ICARUS Training Tools
These tools include UGV, UAV and USV simulators dedicated to operators’ training. ICARUS vehicles are simulated in virtual environments that can be modelled based on real measurements based on input from the Unmanned Mobile Mapping System.
UGV training tool.
USV training tools.
UAV training tools
4.3.10. VALIDATION OF THE ICARUS SYSTEM IN AN EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE SCENARIO
The ICARUS project considers two main demonstrations to validate the tools developed during the whole duration of the project: a land demonstration, simulating an earthquake in an urban environment and a marine demonstration, simulating a shipwreck in coastal waters. Here, we discuss the first demonstration, where the Belgian First Aid and Support Team (ICARUS-partner B-FAST) intervened in response to a simulated earthquake, helped by the ICARUS tools developed within the project. This event took place at the military base of Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium and had as main purposes to validate each of the individual ICARUS tools, but also – and more importantly – validate the performance of these tools as an integrated system and their integration into the standard operating procedures of the end-users which were supposed to use these novel technological tools. The public demonstration was attended by around 100 stakeholders and presented over the course of a full day 6 distinct operational scenarios:
1. C4I Integration
The purpose of this scenario is to demonstrate the integration of ICARUS tools into the procedures of the SAR workers. In practice, this means that the ICARUS command and control tools need to be able to integrate in the On-Site Operations and Commance Centre (OSOCC), pull in data from registered sources and produce data in standardised formats. For this purpose, an OSOCC was set up and the different interoperability aspects were validated.
2. Mission Planning
During this phase of the operation, the mission planner at the OSOCC assigns sectors and tasks to SAR teams. He does this by fusing information from different data sources (GIS maps, UAS data). Specific for this scenario is that the ICARUS endurance aeroplane is used by the mission planner as a tool for increasing his situational awareness, by mapping the crisis area and transmitting real-time data to the command station.
During this phase, the USAR teams move towards and deploy into a sector assigned by the mission planner via the C2I. The main purpose of this scenario is to test the (rapid) deployment capabilities and the integration of the communication and C2I system. Another purpose of this scenario is to test the network and C2I management capabilities when confronted with dynamic team and resource allocations
4. SAR Operations on a semi-demolished apartment building
During this phase, the USAR team, helped by the UGV and UAV systems, rescues victims trapped in a semi-demolished apartment building. The main purpose of this scenario is to test the assessment, search and rescue capabilities of the outdoor rotorcraft (support for situational awareness, mapping, victim search, collaboration with canine victim search teams, rescue kit delivery) and the large UGV (debris clearance, breaching an entry to blocked structures, executing shoring operations) and their collaborative operation.
5. SAR Operations on a semi-demolished school building
During this scenario, The USAR team, helped by the UGV and UAV systems, rescues victims trapped in a semi-demolished school building. The main purpose of this scenario is to test the assessment, search and rescue capabilities of the small UGV and the indoor rotorcraft (semi-autonomous indoor flight) related to indoor victim search and their collaborative operation mode.
6. SAR Operations on a semi-demolished CBRN warehouse
During this operation, the USAR team, helped by the UGV and UAV systems, rescues victims trapped in a semi-demolished warehouse building. The main purpose of this scenario is to test the assessment, search and rescue capabilities of the small and large UGV (deployment of the small UGV by the LUGV, manoeuvring in small spaces, executing grasping operations with the help of the exoskeleton) and the indoor and outdoor rotorcraft and their collaborative operation mode.
4.3.11. VALIDATION OF THE ICARUS SYSTEM IN A MARINE INCIDENT RESPONSE SCENARIO
Demonstration of multiple robotic operations in realistic SAR scenario
The sea demonstration involved fixed wing and rotary aerial robots and also unmanned surface vessels and robotized capsules. A realistic scenario was organized simulating an accident on a ferryboat with victims on the .
Ferryboat used in sea demonstration.
The aerial robotic platforms were used to survey the accident area spotting and localizing victims on the water, as well as tracking their drift due to currents.
Aerial platforms performing area surveys.
Unmanned surface vehicles were used to perform close range surveys as well as deploy robotized capsules close to the victims on the water.
Unmanned surface vehicles carrying capsules: ROAZ II (left), U-Ranger (right).
Multiple robots in operation (left) and victims on life raft (right).
Demonstration of C2I and communication tools in realistic SAR scenario
The ICARUS C2I and communication tools were used during the demonstration to operate the robotic platforms and to provide relevant data about the accident, as well as locations of victims to the operators. In particular, the use of a common communication and interface framework to simultaneously operate multiple and heterogeneous platforms was one of the greatest achievements of the project.
Increased awareness of unmanned systems capabilities in SAR operations
The sea demonstration included the visit of several authorities, some of them coordinating maritime search and rescue organizations. Official presentations of the ICARUS project were conducted, attracting the Portuguese media (national radios and television channels), resulting in several interviews and short reports about the project, contributing to an increased awareness of the usefulness of robotic platforms in search and rescue operations.
Establishment of field trials procedures for requirement validation
The established procedures included several ways to validate requirements and also to assess the capabilities of individual platforms and of their coordinated use.
All demonstration activities were based on a storyboard describing in the accident and identifying the roles of the different tools. Such storyboard was used to define sets of individual and integrated experiments during which it also possible to validate requirements and gather data for making performance analysis of each system or set of systems.
System validation also included the assessment of the experiments by experts external to the project research team.
4.4.1. IMPACT ON THE GENERAL SOCIETY AND WIDER SOCIETAL IMPLICATIONS
The main objective of ICARUS is to increase the safety and security of the citizens by introducing novel unmanned tools in the operational toolkit of search and rescue workers. ICARUS is a research project, so the main expected impacts will be more visible over the longer term, but due to a diversified mix in the project of higher and lower TRL activities, the project has also achieved an important impact on short term. These impacts are described more in detail in the following table:
Denomination ICARUS Impact Societal Implication
Short term Impacts on the field (within the lifetime of the project) Wider general societal acceptance of the use of RPAS ICARUS has performed multiple demonstrations (e.g. the EU CP Forum where the first legal flight in the EU capital was performed) and conferences (not less than 7 RPAS conferences were organized in the scope of ICARUS) open to the general public to showcase the good use of these tools for disaster relief and civil protection operations. The insertion of RPAS in civil airspace stands or falls with the public acceptance of these tools. The ICARUS actions are inspired by the will to drive this public acceptance.
Wide acceptance in the SAR community on the use of RPAS, including bringing these novel unmanned tools to the field. ICARUS has worked together with the end users, incorporating them in our requirements definition, developments, validation and demonstration activities such that they could experience the advantages of the systems first hand. Moreover, during the Bosnia mission (see below), the RPAS tools were brought into a real crisis area. End users are now convinced about the advantages of the unmanned tools (certainly the RPAS, which they want to deploy as soon as possible). This will help to speed up rescue operations (and make them more safe for the SAR workers) and save lives.
Wider acceptance among policy makers on the use of RPAS for crisis management ICARUS has performed multiple demonstrations (e.g. the EU CP Forum where the first legal flight in the EU capital was performed) and conferences (not less than 7 RPAS conferences were organized in the scope of ICARUS) to convince policy makers about the advantages of unmanned SAR tools. Policy makers seem now convinced about the advantages of the unmanned tools (certainly the RPAS), which will drive to define the policies and procedures for introducing these tools into the crisis management framework.
Direct assistance of search and rescue teams to help the local population during flood relief operations During the Spring floods in 2014 in the Balkans, an ICARUS RPAS assisted the international relief teams for tasks such as dyke breach detection, optimization of the position of the water pumps, area prioritization, structural inspection and situational awareness. By helping with the operations of the international relief teams, ICARUS also helped the local population in Bosnia. ICARUS was officially praised and thanked for its operations by the Bosnian Ministry of Security.
Direct assistance of demining teams to help in the assessment of suspected hazardous areas During the Spring floods in 2014 in the Balkans, an ICARUS RPAS assisted the local demining teams for re-locating the many landmines which had shifted position. By helping with the operations of the demining teams, ICARUS also helped the local community in Bosnia.
Mid-term Expected Impacts on the field (within 4 years after the end of the project) Wide acceptance in the SAR community on the use of unmanned ground and marine vehicles, including bringing these novel unmanned tools to the field. ICARUS has worked together with the end users, incorporating them in our requirements definition, developments, validation and demonstration activities such that they could experience the advantages of the systems first hand. This should lead to the effective use of unmanned ground and marine SAR vehicles in the near future. End users are now getting convinced about the advantages of the unmanned tools, even though there are still some robustness and deployment issues to be tackled for ground and marine vehicles. Finally, this will help to speed up rescue operations (and make them more safe for the SAR workers) and save lives.
Wide acceptance among policy makers on the use of unmanned ground and marine vehicles for crisis management ICARUS has performed multiple demonstrations to convince policy makers about the advantages of unmanned SAR tools. Policy makers seem now convinced about the advantages of the unmanned tools, which will drive to define the policies and procedures for introducing these tools into the crisis management framework.
Improved interoperability and SAR equipment ICARUS has developed a set of interoperable tools which seamlessly work together with a unique command and control system. The use of these tools on the field will help to speed up SAR operations and save lives.
Improved command & control and support system for planning and management ICARUS developed a unique command and control system which is capable of controlling a range of interoperable assets. Support tools are provided enabling the mana-gement of complex SAR operations. The use of these tools on the field will help to speed up SAR operations and save lives.
Improved training curricula for SAR workers, including unmanned tools. ICARUS has developed training tools which allow end users to learn how to operate the different ICARUS tools in a safe virtual environment. Training is paramount, as SAR workers will not use tools they are not trained for. The impact of the training tools is therefore the wider use of the unmanned tools
Long-term Expected Impacts on the field
(4 years after the project end) Collaborative and cooperative operation of multiple unmanned tools in a crisis area ICARUS has developed collaborative robotic agents. However, we must be realistic that the simultaneous use of multiple collaborative unmanned systems in the same crisis theatre will still require that SAR workers first get used to using singular systems. The use of these tools on the field will help to speed up SAR operations and save lives.
4.4.2. ECONOMIC IMPACT
Globally serious urban problems of mass destruction, whether caused by nature or by man, such as earthquakes, floods, wars and even terrorist attacks occur. These events bring unfortunately high number of victims, and under these grave circumstances the collaboration of SAR teams is required. Members of these rescue agencies perform a difficult task, exposing their own lives at great risk to rescue the victims.
On account of ICARUS technological advances in the area of robotics comes an application of great global interest for its humanitarian nature. Robots can make disasters go away faster because they can replace manual actions with automated and remotes tasks. This means that intervention speeds up which increases the possibility of life-saving victims. Once tasks of search and rescue are complete, then recovery groups can enter the affected area and restore utilities, repair roads, etc.
The reduction of the initial response phase by just 1 day reduces the overall time through the reconstruction and recovery phase by up to 1,000 days. Note that there were economic losses of 110 billion dollars, thus using robotic machinery, given its high cost, the economy would recover more quickly.
4.4.3. MAIN DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES
Dissemination activities were divided in three parallel main phases, each of these phases being dependent upon the maturity of the project at a specific point in time.
• The objective of the first phase (RP1 to RP4) of communication activities was to convey the message that a new Robotic SAR project, ICARUS, had started. This phase was carried out by attending conferences and events as well as through direct contact with stakeholders. In addition, this phase has been running alongside the other two phases in order to maximise the engagement of potential targets that might have been be interested in the project. As an example, the Project partners delivered 25 presentations and lectures during RP1 which is the highest number as compared to RP2 (11), RP3 (11) and RP4 (16).
• The second phase (RP2 to RP4) was carried out to present the results and achievements of research and development activities undertaken in the frame of the ICARUS project, therefore targeting technical experts in priority.
• Finally, when ICARUS outcomes were mature enough (RP3 to RP4), communication efforts focused on the end users, the decision-makers and budget holders to ensure the sustainability of the project outputs in the long-term. During this last phase, the project put the emphasis on the exploitation of the ICARUS results as well as on the interoperability and the integration of the different ICARUS unmanned platforms. In addition, two large-scale field demonstrations were organised by the Project partners during the last year of the Project.
Dissemination activities performed during the Project timeline included:
• Development of a project website. The website (http://www.fp7-icarus.eu/) was made available in May 2012 and constantly updated so as to include new website sections and information on the latest Project development (see the new project results section). It was used as an important dissemination channel to inform the various communication audiences about the Project status and the results of the research. The website will be maintained a minimum of one year after the end of the Project.
From April 2012 to December 2015, the statistics are (source: Google Analytics):
o Sessions: 26.292 sessions (548 per month)
o Unique visitors: 17.557 (365 per month)
o New visitors: 67%
o Average number of new visitors per month: 365
o Average visit duration: 0:02:49
• Project documentation. Dissemination material produced and regularly updated by the project include:
o 2 Project leaflets regularly updated (general public + technical level)
o presentation poster (updated during the Project)
o roll-up (updated during the Project)
o power point template (for partners only)
o pop-up stand (or exhibition booth) used for major events
• Facebook and twitter pages (RP3) were part of the ICARUS “push campaign” to improve Project visibility during the last year. This page contained all the latest news published in the project website plus “shared” news from relevant institutions. As an example, the announcement of successful ICARUS participant to euRathlon reached 1.000 people on Facebook.
• Image Bank was an online repository where images related to the Project and to Search and Rescue were stored for quick access by the partners and authorised stakeholders interested in the Project. The Image Bank included 28 albums containing 1,276 pictures in total.
• Dissemination database. A contact database (369 entries) of relevant communication targets has been developed (M9) and regularly updated.
• Participation in events. In total, the Project partners participated in 149 dissemination events since the beginning of the project such as conferences, workshops, field demonstrations, etc. This number includes 63 lectures and presentations.
These events were a useful platform to reach the audience and provided for networking opportunities. During the last communication phase (RP3 to RP4), particular attention was paid to the events allowing field-trials in order to demonstrate the added value of the ICARUS toolbox. For instance, the Project partners were invited to multiple conferences, workshops and field demonstrations including:
➢ The European Civil Protection Forum 2015 (Brussels, May 2015) organized by the EC’s DG ECHO;
➢ The Eurathlon 2015 robotics challenge (Piombino, September 2015) where several ICARUS partners won multiple prizes and awards;
➢ The United Nation’s International Research and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Global Meeting (Abu Dhabi, October 2015);
➢ The RPAS workshop for civil protection experts (Brussels, January 2016).
• Publications. The Project produced a total of 102 publications including 12 (12%) publications during the first year, 19 (18%) publications during the second year, 17 (17%) publications during the fourth year and 54 (53%) publications in the last year.
• Publication of news release on the website. In total, the Project published 86 news items since April 2012.
• Production of videos. In total, the project produced 10 high-quality videos available in a dedicated media section on the website. The updated version of the ICARUS project presentation video (3:26) has reached 4.388 views on Youtube. In aggregate, the ICARUS videos have reached 13.555 views. In addition, the EU Commission (ECHO) has posted the video of on the official EU Civil Protection website.
• ICARUS Maritime Demo. On the 9th and 10th of July 2015, ICARUS Project partners simulated a maritime crisis management scenario at the Navy Base of Alfeite (Almada) in Portugal. A video of the event is available here.
• ICARUS Final Land Demo. On the 4th of September 2015, the final field trials of the Land robotic and C2 tools developed within the FP7 ICARUS Project took place on the training grounds of the Belgian First Aid and Support Team (ICARUS partner B-FAST) in Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium. In total, the event attracted approximately 100 participants from 9 Countries (Europe + USA). A video of the event is available here.
• First Legal Drone Flight performed in Brussels. On 7 May 2015, and within the framework of the EU Civil Protection Forum, several ICARUS Partners performed a dedicated Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) outdoor demonstration which was the first-ever legal RPAS flight in Brussels, raising particular interest from the Belgian media. A 2-pages article was published in “Le Soir”, a leading national French speaking newspaper (see here).
• Media coverage – blogs & newspapers. Communication activities undertaken during the Project can be assessed on the basis of its impact in the media. In total, 32 articles about ICARUS have been published in newspapers (online and offline) including major (inter)national newspapers.
• Media coverage – television. The ORF (Österreichischer Rundfunk) Austrian Television aired a 45 minutes documentary on Robotic Search and Rescue that features many of the developments of the ICARUS Project, including interviews of several ICARUS partners. ORF came to Berchtesgaden, Germany to film the EURATHLON event in which several ICARUS partners participated. In addition, the Radio Télévision Belge Francophone – RTBF - produced a documentary on ICARUS that was aired multiple times in a scientific national television show.
4.4.4. EXPLOITATION OF RESULTS
The ICARUS project is the result of merging the capacities and abilities of entities at different stages of the SAR value chain. The ambitious objective and scope of the project has made necessary the participation of a large number of beneficiaries in order to reach the expected results in different fields. Each beneficiary has already contributed to a wide range of developments based on their extensive expertise as part of their core business activity.
On account of ICARUS, 50 results have been identified with the aim of improving existing SAR technologies, in particular, features that enhance UAVs, UGVs, USVs and the provision of a novel Command & Control platform.
Many of these results are in a pre-commercial stage and are expected to be launch onto the market by 2016. Thus a collection of innovative tools have been conceived for Urban and Maritime SAR operations such as:
• Unmanned Maritime Capsule
• Heavy Unmanned Ground Vehicle
• Training and Support system
• Rapid deployment unmanned aerial vehicle team for assisting international relief teams
• Rapid mapping tools, combining data from aerial and ground based assets
• X-LINK middleware software for tactical communications
• GEOBEAM tool for tactical communications planning and management
• Multi- Domain Robot Command and Control Station (MDRC2)
• Lightweight and Integrated platform for Flight Technologies (LIFT)
• Icarus GIS Virtual Machine
• Integrated Module
Further information is available on the website at http://www.fp7-icarus.eu/
Visitors can also contact developers through the project website in order to facilitate their commercialization.
List of Websites:
The ICARUS website can be found on the following address: http://www.fp7-icarus.eu/
The website consists of 8 main sections:
• The homepage shows the latest news and a quick overview of the project objectives
• The Project Overview gives a more detailed description of the project and its partners
• The Search and Rescue section introduces the problems related to this subject to the readers
• A list of publications can be found on the Publications section
• A News section lists all ICARUS-related news
• A Links section brings readers in contact with partner organisations, projects and institutes
• The Contact section gives the contact details of the project responsibles for different requests
• A Project Results section showcases the exploitable products coming forth out of ICARUS
Grant agreement ID: 285417
1 February 2012
31 January 2016
€ 17 306 992,64
€ 12 584 933,45
ECOLE ROYALE MILITAIRE - KONINKLIJKE MILITAIRE SCHOOL
This project is featured in...
Deliverables not available
Grant agreement ID: 285417
1 February 2012
31 January 2016
€ 17 306 992,64
€ 12 584 933,45
ECOLE ROYALE MILITAIRE - KONINKLIJKE MILITAIRE SCHOOL
This project is featured in...
Grant agreement ID: 285417
1 February 2012
31 January 2016
€ 17 306 992,64
€ 12 584 933,45
ECOLE ROYALE MILITAIRE - KONINKLIJKE MILITAIRE SCHOOL