Urban Search & Rescue

Another part of RoboCup is the Urban Search and Rescue competition. In this competition, teams of robots attempt to locate mannekins representing people in disaster situations. There are three obstacle courses through which the robots can navigate.


The Yellow course is the easiest of the three, generally simulating a home after an earthquake or similar disaster. The floor of this course is easy to navigate, and most robots can handle it; there is no loose paper, no ramps, no chickenwire, etc.

The Orange course is the mid-level course. For the 2003 competition, the major distinguishing feature of the Orange course was a ramp with chickenwire. Only one robot, an ATRV Junior, was capable of making it up this ramp in 2003. In addition, the floor was covered in paper, which is surprisingly hard to traverse with small wheeled robots, or even with Sony Aibos.

The Red course is freakin' hard. There's rubble and stuff, all over the place. Nobody got in there. There's also enough metal to cause serious problems with wireless ethernet.


In 2003, there were 3 preliminary rounds, and the worst score was dropped. Three teams advanced to the final rounds, of which there were 2. In each round, the victims were moved around; for the finals, they were much harder to find. In addition, the modular courses were changed.


Scoring is based on the number of victims found, the difficulty of the arena they were found in, the amount of information that could be obtained about the victim (ie, victim number, state of health, how badly trapped; chemical, thermal, and audio sensors were necessary to obtain all information), and the number of operators running the robots. Correct mapping to the victim also helps a great deal.

The Urban Search and Rescue competition is run by NIST, and its largely independent of the other portions of RoboCup. During the year, they usually have the course setup in Washington, D.C. and robot teams can arrange to visit and make test runs.

This writeup was originally over at RoboCup