Test Courses

At the NERVE Center, we have mobility, manipulation, and sensor test methods replicated from NIST, indoor water test areas designed in collaboration with the Army, and NERVE designed test courses and scenarios. The test courses can be used for measuring robot capabilities, training end users and operators, and demonstrations to potential funders or procurements. Apparatuses fall into one of four suites:

  Mobility: Terrain Mobility: Obstacles Manipulation Water
 
  • Line Following / Towing
  • Continuous Ramps
  • Crossing Ramps
  • Symmetric Stepfields
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Outdoor Ground Types
  • Hurdles
  • Gaps
  • Pure Towing
  • Stairs
  • Inclined Plane
  • Ant Farm
  • Underbody Search
  • Payload at Reach / Lifting
  • Inspection
  • Insertion & Retrieval
  • Radial, Dexterous, Planar Wall, Vertical and Horizontal Cylinders
  • Open Access Bay
  • Visual Acuity Tests
  • Fording Basin
  • Splash Pools
  • Rain Test Area
  • Wet Ramp

To see our courses in person, you can attend one of our upcoming open house and social events, or e-mail NERVE@cs.uml.edu to schedule a private tour for your company or organization.


Click thumbnail images to see photos of each course.

Operational Scenarios

The NERVE Center's 9,000 square foot testing area allows for a wide variety of operational scenario set ups. A series of courses and apparatuses can be chained together to simulate indoor and outdoor environments, collapsed buildings, and more. False walls can be set up to make rooms and hallways for searching.

Scenarios are very useful for operational testing of a robot and to train operators how to effectively control a robot. Experiments can be run with human-subjects, autonomous behaviors can be tested; there are countless possibilities.

 

Examples of some scenario set ups can be seen below:

If you have a scenario you would like to run at the NERVE Center please e-mail NERVE@cs.uml.edu and we will design a layout to fit your needs.

Mobility: Terrain

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Line Following and Towing (NIST)

The ramps are removed to reveal a thick white line forming a figure eight on the floor. The robot performs 10 laps by following the line, with or without an attached sled of weights.

Test Methods:

  • Human-Robot Interaction: Maneuvering Speed: Line Following, with or without Towing

Continuous Ramps (NIST)

A series of 15° ramps form one continuous surface. The robot performs 10 laps in a figure eight. A lap is only valid if the robot crosses into the end zones on either side, marked by the black and white stripes.

Test Methods:

  • Energy/Power: Endurance
  • Mobility: Confined Area Terrains

Crossing Ramps (NIST)

A series of 15° ramps form a segmented pattern. The robot performs 10 laps in a figure eight. A lap is only valid if the robot crosses into the end zones on either side, marked by the black and white stripes.

Test Methods:

  • Mobility: Confined Area Terrains, with or without Payload

Symmetric Stepfields (NIST)

A series of 4x4 wooden posts are placed in an undulating wave pattern. The robot performs 10 laps in a figure eight. A lap is only valid if the robot crosses into the end zones on either side, marked by the black and white stripes.

Test Methods:

  • Mobility: Confined Area Terrains

Sand (NIST)

The bay is filled with 6 cubic yards of masonry sand. A robot must perform 10 laps in a figure eight. A lap is only valid if the robot crosses into the end zones on either side, marked by the black and white stripes.

Test Methods:

  • Mobility: Confined Area Terrains

Gravel (NIST)

The bay is filled with 3 cubic yards of pea gravel. A robot must perform 10 laps in a figure eight. A lap is only valid if the robot crosses into the end zones on either side, marked by the black and white stripes.

Test Methods:

  • Mobility: Confined Area Terrains

Outdoor Ground Types (NERVE)

A robot can traverse 24 foot long stretches of cobblestones, washed stones (between 1" and 2"), and bricks.

Test Methods:

  • Mobility: Confined Area Terrains
   

Mobility: Obstacles

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Hurdles (NIST)

The robot climbs up different heights, increasing in 4 inch increments. The edge that the robot climbs consists of free-rotating PVC pipes. A culvert tunnel insert may be added for the robot to drive into after climbing the hurdles.

Test Methods:

  • Mobility: Confined Area Obstacles, with or without Culvert

Gaps (NIST)

A robot drives over the gap without touching the floor. The gap increases in 4 inch increments by adjusting the movable floor. The other end of the gap has a free-spinning PVC pipe instead of a hard edge.

Test Methods:

  • Mobility: Confined Area Obstacles

Pure Towing (NIST)

A robot pulls a series of weights to determine pull force on a high friction expanded metal surface or on a low friction wood surface.

Test Methods:

  • Towing Pull Force

Stairs (NIST)

A robot performs 10 laps of stair ascension and descension. Four different angles of staircases are available: 30°, 35°, 40°, and 45°. Diamond plate stair tops can be placed over the wooden stair treads. A robot is able to perform wet or dry.

The NERVE Center will be adding the ability to have carpeted stairs and stone stairs.

Test Methods:

  • Mobility: Confined Area Obstacles: Dry/Wet Wood Stair Treads, Dry/Wet Steel Stair Treads

Inclined Plane (NIST)

A 12'x12' plane is lifted from the ground and angled between 0° and 45°. The white lines painted on the plane are used for line following for a series of mobility tests. The plane is covered with a high friction expanded metal surface, which is removable.

Test Methods:

  • Mobility: Vertical, Horizontal, Diagonal, Circle Following, Station Keeping
  • Manipulation: Mobility with Payload, Target Inspection

Ant Farm (NIST)

The robot is inserted either from the ceiling or window of the top left compartment. The top floor is made up of continuous 15° ramps, the second floor of crossing 15° ramps, and the bottom floor of symmetric stepfields. A robot needs to perform 10 laps in a figure eight before dropping into the next floor.

Retrieval via tether can also be performed with a second operator.

Test Methods:

  • Mobility: Vertical Insertion & Retrieval Stack with Drops

Underbody Inspection (NIST)

Four search panels are placed over the continuous ramps. A robot searches for and identifies targets that are randomly placed within the four search panels. The search panels can be adjusted to hang between 10cm and 100cm.

Test Methods:

  • Human-Robot Interaction: Underbody Inspection
   

Manipulation

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Polar Grid (NIST)

A robot's shoulder joint is placed at the center of the grid and uses its manipulator to lift objects and inspect targets at different distances and angles.

Test Methods:

  • Manipulation: Payload at Reach/Lifting, Radial Inspection and Insertion & Retrieval, Dexterous Inspection and Insertion & Retrieval

Manipulation Open Access (NIST)

A robot approaches the chamber from the side or front on a 15° ramp, and interacts with the apparatus from a fixed position. A shelf is placed at different heights for the robot to interact with by either inserting objects or inspecting targets.

Test Methods:

  • Manipulation: Open Access

Cylindrical Apparatuses (NIST)

A robot approaches the horizontal or vertical cylindrical apparatus on a small set of uneven terrain (15° crossing ramps) and uses its manipulator to interact with the targets on the cylinder.

Test Methods:

  • Manipulation: Dexterous Inspection and Insertion & Retrieval

Vertical Planar Wall (NIST)

A robot approaches the planar wall on a small set of uneven terrain (15° crossing ramps) and uses its manipulator to interact with the targets on the wall.

Test Methods:

  • Manipulation: Planar Wall Inspection and Insertion & Retrieval

Doors

A robot can open and close a door. A variety of door handles and door dimensions will be available. The doors can be placed either within the corridor, at the top of a staircase, or within a stretch of uneven terrain such as the cobblestones.

Test Methods:

  • Manipulation: Door Opening

Visual Acuity Tests (NIST)

A robot uses its cameras to read Landolt C eye charts, reading down to the lowest possible level and an ISO 12233 chart to determine resolution and field of view.

Test Methods:

  • Sensing: Acuity, Resolution, Field of View
  • Human-Robot Interaction: Pan-Tilt-Zoom Tasks

Water

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Fording Basin (designed in collaboration with the Army)

The water level can be adjusted to a maximum depth of 18 inches. A robot drives through partially or fully submerged, depending on the depth of the water and the height of the robot.

Test Methods:

  • Durability/Mobility: Water Fording

Splash Pools (designed in collaboration with the Army)

The water level can be adjusted to a maximum depth of 18 inches. A robot drives in and out of each splash pool in succession, which can send water splashing up on to the top of the robot.

Test Methods:

  • Durability/Mobility: Water Splashing

Rain Test Area

A robot drives through the area under an adjustable spray of rain. Obstacles such as ramps and stairs can be placed within the rain area for the robot to traverse.

Test Methods:

  • Durability/Mobility: Rain, Wet Inclines

Wet Ramp (NERVE)

A robot can ascend and descend a ramp while being rained on. The angle of the ramp can be adjusted to be 15°, 20°, 25°, 30°, 35°, 40°, or 45°.

Test Methods:

  • Mobility: Wet Inclines

 

Other

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Corridor

This 8 foot wide corridor provides a straight path in between the other test courses. It can be used for mapping and navigation tests.

UMass Lowell uses the corridor for human-robot interaction experiements involving trust.

Test Methods:

  • Autonomy: Mapping and Navigation

Rock Climbing Wall

A robot can climb the rock wall using its limbs to grip the hand and foot holds.

       

 


 

UMass Lowell NERVE Center, 1001 Pawtucket Boulevard, Lowell, MA 01854
For more information, please contact NERVE@cs.uml.edu or call 978-934-6600