Testing Facility and on-board field trials

An assessment of compliance of RAS platforms and software solutions to specific requirements, regardless to the underlying technology adopted, can be achieved by means of the design, implementation and execution of a set of tests, carried out in a dedicated, specifically designed testing facility. To this purpose, test procedures, evaluation criteria, metrics and benchmarks are developed in the framework of the project.

The possibility to perform tests in a controlled and easily accessible environment, where repeatable test protocols can be implemented, considerably increases the development opportunity for new platforms, significantly reducing the costs related to the assessment of their capabilities and to certification activities, if required.

The desired degrees of reliability, coverage and effectiveness of testing protocols implemented in the testing facility, which are essential factors in the process of development and assessment of RAS platforms, are achieved by means of field trials campaigns, comparing the results obtained in the testing facility with those obtained in equivalent trials on-board.

Possible differences between the two, or other unexpected behaviors of the platforms detected during field trials, are used as a feedback to revise the test protocols and the testing facility itself, thus creating an iterative refining process that converges to a status where field trials can be reliably replaced by equivalent tests in the testing facility, or significantly reduced.

The possibility to replace, or at least reduce, field trials on-board by means of equivalent test protocols carried out in the testing facility, is one of the key concepts in ROBINS. This comes from the consideration that field trials onboard ships are generally very difficult to be arranged, can be quite expensive and usually cannot be executed in controlled and reproducible testing conditions: these are severe limitations for the development of RAS platforms for ship inspection.

The testing facility is expected to reduce obstacles and costs for the development of new technologies and functionalities, increasing the opportunities to extend the range of application to new operational scenarios and to disclose new potential markets to robotics industry. The testing protocols and layouts developed in the ROBINS project can also be the basis for a proposal of international standards, recognized and accepted by stakeholders and authorities. Stable standards are a precondition to stimulate the European robotics industry and unleash the economic potential of new markets.

The ROBINS Testing Facility will be set up at the University of Genova.

The project will also support the development of the Testing Facility, of the robotic platforms and of the software tools with an extensive set of on-board field trials.