CRASAR is a Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Center whose mission is to improve disaster preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery through the development and adoption of robots and related technologies. Its goal is to create a “community of practice” throughout the world for rescue robots that motivates fundamental research, supports technology transfer, and educates students, response professionals, and the public. CRASAR is a dynamic mix of university researchers, industry, and responders.
CRASAR has participated in 15 of the 35 documented deployments of disaster robots throughout the world and have formally analyzed 9 others, providing a comprehensive archive of rescue robots in practice. Our industry partners and funding agencies make a wide range of small land, sea, and air robots available for use by responders at no charge through the Roboticists Without Borders program. Our human-robot crew organization and protocols developed first for UGVs, where studies show a 9 times increase in team performance, and then extended for small UAVs during our flights at Hurricane Katrina has been adopted by Italian and German UAV response teams and was used by the Westinghouse team for the use of the Honeywell T-Hawk at the Fukushima nuclear accident.
CRASAR helps organize and sponsor conferences such as the annual IEEE Safety Security Rescue Robotics conference and workshops such as the recent NSF-JST-NIST Workshop on Rescue Robots.
A good overview of rescue robotics is in Disaster Robotics by Robin Murphy (MIT Press, Amazon, and Kindle) and Chapter 50 of the award-winning Handbook of Robotics. Here’s a list of all known robot deployments: Table of Responses.
Fun facts from “Disaster Robots”:
- All ground, aerial, and marine robots have been teleoperated (like the Mars Rovers) rather than fully autonomous (like a Roomba), primarily because the robots allow the responders to look and act in real-time; there’s always something they need to see or do immediately
- Robots have been at at least 35 events, and actually used at at least 29 (sometimes the robot is too big or not intrinsically safe)
- The biggest technical barrier is the human-robot interaction. Over 50% of the failures (a total of 27 at 13 incidents) have been human error.
- Robots are not used until an average of 6.5 days after a disaster; either an agency has a robot and they use it within 0.5 days or they don’t and it takes 7.5 days to realize a robot would be of use and get it on site