International Symposium Rescue Robotics 01.10.2021

Current State and Challenges for Intelligent Robotic Assistance in Disaster Response

The ambition of this international symposium is to highlight the current status and future challenges in intelligent ground and aerial robotic systems assisting in disaster response from the perspectives of research, development, training, and application.

Audience: The symposium is intended for a broad audience, including first responders, industry and academia. We invite in particular participants from industry developing technology for robot-assisted disaster response and similar applications. The users of the technology such as fire brigades and other responders, and researchers as well as students interested in the underlying research challenges for robot-assisted disaster response are highly welcome to join.

Live stream Symposium ab 3:38:00


13:00-13:30 Get Together
13:30-13:45 Opening and introduction (Oskar von Stryk, Ivana Kruijff)
13:45-14:45 Invited talks (chair: Oskar von Stryk)
              13:45-14:05 Robin Murphy
              14:05-14:25 Tomas Svoboda
              14:25-14:45 Satoshi Tadokoro
14:45-15:00 Break
15:00-16:00 Invited talks (chair: Ivana Kruijff)
               15:00-15:20 Jean-Paul Monet
               15:20-15:40 Emanuele Gissi
               15:40-16:00 Adam Jacoff
16:00-16:30 Round Table Discussion with all speakers as panelists

Note: Due to the worldwide ongoing pandemic situation the symposium will be held in hybrid form, i.e., speakers and participants will take part either physically onsite or virtually remote.

(times are in CET zone and may still be subject to change)


Participation in the symposium is free of charge. Registration is required.
There is a limited number of places for physical presence and an unlimited number of places for online participation.

The following speakers have been confirmed

Prof. Robin Murphy

Texas A&M University

Use of Robots for COVID-19 Worldwide

Dr. Robin R. Murphy is the Raytheon Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, a TED speaker, and an IEEE and ACM Fellow. She helped create the fields of disaster robotics and human-robot interaction, deploying robots to 29 disasters in five countries including the 9/11 World Trade Center, Fukushima, the Syrian boat refugee crisis, Hurricane Harvey, and the Kilauea volcanic eruption. Murphy’s contributions to robotics have been recognized with the ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions, a US Air Force Exemplary Civilian Service Award medal, the AUVSI Foundation’s Al Aube Award, and the Motohiro Kisoi Award for Rescue Engineering Education (Japan). She co-chaired the White House OSTP and NSF workshops on robotics for infectious diseases and recently co-chaired the National Academy of Engineering/Computing Community Consortium workshop on robots for COVID-19.

This talk will describe how ground, aerial, and marine robots have been used in disasters, most recently the coronavirus pandemic. During the pandemic from 24 Jan 2020 to 23 Jan 2021, 338 instances of robots in 48 countries protecting healthcare workers from unnecessary exposure, handling the surge in demand for clinical care, preventing infections, restoring economic activity, and maintaining individual quality of life have been reported.  The uses span six sociotechnical work domains and 29 different use cases representing different missions, robot work envelopes, and human-robot interaction dyads.  The dataset also confirms a model of adoption of robotics technology for disasters. Adoption favors robots that maximize the suitability for established use cases while minimizing risk of malfunction, hidden workload costs, or unintended consequences as measured by the NASA Technical Readiness Assessment metrics. Regulations do not present a major barrier but availability, either in terms of inventory or prohibitively high costs, does.  A national robotics policy appears to be associated with a greater use of robots, and for more uses, by a country. The model suggests that in order to be prepared for future events, roboticists should partner with responders now, investigate how to rapidly manufacture complex, reliable robots on demand, and conduct fundamental research on predicting and mitigating risk in extreme or novel environments.

Adam Jacoff


Measuring and Comparing Emergency Response Robot Capabilies and Remote Operator/Pilot Proficiency Using Standard Test Methods

Adam Jacoff is a robotics research engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Over the past thirty years, he has developed a variety of innovative robots and directed evaluations of more than a hundred others in a range of sizes. This includes directing the first technology readiness level assessment of autonomous mobility for the U.S. Army’s Experimental Unmanned Vehicle (XUV) (2002-2003), developing the tests for the DARPA Robotics Challenge for Disaster Response (2012-2015), and conducting annual research competitions such as the RoboCupRescue Robot League Championships worldwide (2000-present).

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology is leading an international effort to develop standard test methods for emergency response robots including ground, aerial, and aquatic systems. These tests can be used to quantitatively evaluate various system capabilities and remote operator/pilot proficiency. They are being standardized through the ASTM International Standards Committee on Homeland Security Applictions; Response Robots (ASTM E54.09). This presentation will introduce the project approach toward developing these tests and evaluating such a wide variety of robotic implementations. It will also review impacts realized through collaborating responder organizations and test facilities, research competitions, and guided procurements.

Dr. Emanuele Gissi

Italian Fire and Rescue Service

The need for automatic real time wildfire front tracking for fire fighting management and numerical models validation

Emanuele Gissi is serving as fire chief of the Fire Brigade of Savona, the provincial branch of the Italian Fire and Rescue Service. He is a mechanical engineer and PhD in technical physics, collaborating in several research and development projects for CFD fire simulation in buildings and wild areas with the US NIST and CERN labs. He organized the deployment of UAVs and UGVs during the rescue operations for the central Italy earthquake in 2016. He is a member of the International Expert Advisory Board of the German Rescue Robotics Center (DRZ).

Due to the evolving relation between human communities and wild areas, the wild fires are becoming a major issue for rescue and fire fighting organizations. The ongoing climate emergency is worsening the magnitude and frequency of such events. There is currently no technical solution for automatic real time wildfire front tracking;  imagery collection from satellite or remotely controlled UAVs is not offering a frequently updated, geographically precise overall report of wide area wild fires in all orographic environments.

Thick smoke, strong winds, and interaction with fire fighting flights add even more complexity to the issue. This presentation wish to point robotic researchers towards the urgent need for automatic real time wildfire front tracking with self routing, IR sensing fleets of UAVs for facilitating evidence-based fire fighting management and numerical models validation.

Prof. Satoshi Tadokoro

Tohoku University

SMURF - a soft miniaturized robot for CURSOR SaR Kit

Satoshi Tadokoro graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1984.  He was an associate professor in Kobe University in 1993-2005, and has been a Professor of Tohoku University since 2005.  He was a Vice/Deputy Dean of Graduate School of Information Sciences in 2012-14, and is the Director of Tough Cyberphysical AI Research Center since 2019 in Tohoku University.  He has been the President of International Rescue System Institute since 2002, and was the President of IEEE Robotics and Automation Society in 2016-17.  He served as a program manager of MEXT DDT Project on rescue robotics in 2002-07, and was a project manager of Japan Cabinet Office ImPACT Tough Robotics Challenge Project on disaster robotics in 2014-19 having 62 international PIs and 300 researchers that created Cyber Rescue Canine, Dragon Firefighter, etc.  His research team in Tohoku University has developed various rescue robots, two of which called Quince and Active Scope Camera are widely-recognized for their contribution to disaster response including missions in the Fukushima-Daiichi NPP nuclear reactor buildings.  IEEE Fellow, RSJ Fellow, JSME Fellow, and SICE Fellow.

CURSOR is a HORIZON 2020 – JST collaborative project to provide a systematic solution for urban search and rescue.  The CURSOR SaR Kit consists of soft miniaturized robots SMURFs with an advanced VOC sensor Sniffer, Mothership Drones with ground penetrating radars, Transfer Drone to carry SMURFs, and EXPER for integration and reasoning of sensory information to provide the common operational picture and incident management.  The SMURFs penetrate and distribute in debris cones to gather information as a moving IoT edge device.  This talk will introduce the design and field test results of SMURF V1, the first prototype applying conventional design for feasibility study, as a base platform for the future final version SMURF V2 that will have higher mobility in harsh conditions of debris by applying soft robotics.

Jean-Paul Monet

Bouches-du-Rhône fire department

How unmanned systems empowered civilian command systems and response organisation

Lieutenant-colonel Jean-Paul Monet is a senior officer employed by the French Bouches-du-Rhône fire department (, as quality management and innovation division chief. He holds a master degree of pharmacy from Marseille University, and the national fire deputy chief course certificate.

For 34 years, he has been working in all hazard risk assessment, especially Wildlandfires, Cbrne and emergency planning. As an incident commander at (French) highest level, he often dealt with peculiar incidents, such as industrial blazes, commanding huge number of responders in interagency context. Since 2005, he has been working on unmanned tools development for civil protection operations. He worked peculiarly for two collaborative national funded projects, SRIP and SISPEO, developing in 2011 the first French middleweight UGVs platform responding to CBRNe risks and threats. He induced the development of the first fire department robotic squad in France managing today 11 drones + 3 ground robotics. Last years, he took part to the launch of MALIN challenge, a three year innovation French contest for indoor localisation, managed by National research agency (ANR), after being evaluator for ARGOS challenge, another innovation contest in order to select a ground robot for Oil and Gas industry. In 2018, he has been in charge of re-designing the whole on site command post of his brigade. In this aim he had to consider integration of unmanned data flow, in the command and control process. Since 2006, he has been working for European commission as R&D expert evaluator, for robotics, CBRNE and wildfires. He’s also instructed and graduate by EU commission as expert and participant of the EU civil protection mechanism.

For many years, military, security and safety services have been experiencing and finally using unmanned systems. The presentation’s aim is to describe a short history of these robots and depict how are there employed today, in the field of civil safety and security.

After ten years’ experience of robotics R&D and use in Bouches-du-Rhône fire department, presentation of real operational study cases (CBRNe, floods, wildland fires, industrial incidents), will show the efficiency of these tools. Furthermore, authors eventually explain how this new deal implies some changes in command system processes and… in the mind of incident commanders themselves.

Prof. Tomáš Svoboda

Czech Technical University in Prague

Robots go Deep

Tomáš Svoboda received the Ph.D. degree in artificial intelligence and biocybernetics from the Czech Technical University (CTU), Prague, Czech Republic, in 2000. He spent three post-doctoral years with the Computer Vision Group, ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He is currently full Professor and the Chair of the Department of Cybernetics, CTU, and the Director of Cybernetics and Robotics PhD study program. He is also on the Board of the Open Informatics programme. He has published articles on multicamera systems, omnidirectional cameras, image-based retrieval, learnable detection methods, and USAR robotics. He leads CTU-CRAS-NORLAB team at the DARPA SubTerranean Challenge. His recent research interests include multimodal perception for autonomous systems, object detection, and related applications in the automotive industry.

DARPA designed the Subterranean Challenge motivated also by the first responder communities. The challenge is inspired by the need to conduct search and rescue missions in a variety of underground environments, whether in response to an incident in a highly populated area, a natural disaster, or for mine rescue. A team of various robots is required to enter underground environment, map it and locate objects of interest with very little or no human supervision. The talk will discuss the approach of the CTU-CRAS-NORLAB team who scored among the best within the Tunnel and Urban circuits.

Panel Moderator

Dr.-Ing. Hauke Speth

State Fire Service College of North-Rhine Westphalia

Dr.-Ing. Hauke Speth (*1971)  works with the State Fire Service College of North-Rhine Westphalia where he his head of department for leadership training in fire operations, technical rescue and CBRN response. He studied chemical engineering at RWTH Aachen University, graduated in 1998 and continued working as a researcher at the university. Being a volunteer firefighter in Aachen since 1994, he joined the Fire Department of Dortmund in 2002 as a professional fire officer and served in various positions as a gold level officer until the beginning of 2020. As founding coordinator oft he project, he is still in close contact to the German Rescue  Robotics Center. Today, he still responds as a volunteer firefighter and team leader in Dortmund with the „Analytical Task Force“, a specialised module for detection, sampling and analysis in CBRN incidents.

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