Welcome to the TEES Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) at Texas A&M University

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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 25 of the over 50 documented deployments of disaster robots throughout the world and have formally analyzed dozens of others, providing a comprehensive archive of rescue robots in practice. See Disaster Robotics (MIT Press, 2014 in hardcopy or kindle) or the chapter on Rescue Robotics in the Springer Handbook of Robotics.  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 White House OSTP Workshop on Robots for Ebola.

Resources Including Guides and Best Practices for Small UAVs at Disasters

A good overview of rescue robotics is in Disaster Robotics by Robin Murphy (MIT Press, Amazon, and Kindle)- Disaster Robotics is for both practitioners and researchers. It covers 34 deployments worldwide from 2001 through 2013, describes the missions, and next discusses the specific applications and lessons learned for ground (Chapter 3), aerial (Chapter 4), and marine (Chapter 5) vehicles, and then ends with recommendations on how to conduct deployments and field work (Chapter 6). Disaster Robotics won the 2014 PROSE honorable mention for best engineering and science writing.

Here are helpful 1 page guides and best practices for small unmanned aerial systems that have been incorporated into United Nations humanitarian standards and are continuing to evolve:

Click here for more information about CRASAR and its activities.

Donate online to CRASAR to support deployments of Roboticists Without Borders!

And a small disclaimer- this website is still under construction and out of compliance with Texas A&M University formats. Even the logo is off. We’re working on replacing it!

Recent News From Our Blog

SXSW!

I will be participating in the SXSW panel on Beyond BB-8: When Robots Start Acting Human! Another opportunity to talk about disaster robotics and show how robots and AI are assisting the emergency and disaster communities.

It’s been a busy few months at CRASAR. More companies and universities have joined Roboticists Without Borders and we participated in a four county wilderness search and rescue exercise last month with small unmanned aerial systems and a small unmanned marine vehicle with sonar for recovering a submerged body.  The sUAS work yielded valuable data on the use of thermal imaging for finding survivors (short version: not great if the victim is under a tree), and general workflow and concepts of operations.

Three of our Roboticists Without Borders members- Justin Adams, David Kovar, and David Merrick- also chaired sessions at the first National Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Drone Conference and Summit.

I’ve given several talks, including the Assessing the Technological Turn on Humanitarian Action workshop for the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore program in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and I’ll be at the UN in June.

But nearest and dearest to my heart is that we continue to forge forward on the use of unmanned surface vehicles, small UAVs, computer vision,  and LTE wireless solutions to assist with preventing the marine mass casualty drownings of the refugees. The two EMILYs donated in our deployment last year are still in use by the Hellenic Coast Guard (who used it to rescue over 20 refugees stranded on the rocks in high seas) and Hellenic Red Cross and we look forward to taking more autonomous versions back this summer. We got great feedback from the Italian Coast Guard. But it’s a been a year and we’d like to directly help…

See you at SXSW!

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