Japanese Rescue Robots are Back Home and at Work, CRASAR on Standby

We’ve just gotten word from Dr. Tetsuya Kimura that the Japanese delegation led by the International Rescue Systems Institute did arrive back in Japan. Dr. Tadokoro is en route though the roads are closed to Sendai (his home) with the Active Scope Camera, which is possibly the most capable robot for tight spaces (we used it at the Berkman Plaza Collapse). Dr. Koyanagi is deploying his QUINCE robot around his home area of Tokyo and the rest of the delegation is getting organized to join the Sendai team to assist with the rescue.

UPDATE: the Sendai members’ families are reportedly OK!

We remain on standby for an official invitation. We are recommending small UAVs (the AirRobot and Draganflyer multiple rotor helis plus the traditional ones) for aerial inspection of upper levels of buildings and lower altitude checks (CRASAR has AirRobots while Mark Bateson is looking to bring the Draganflyers and Chandler Griffin of ISENSYS is always ready with his helis), Dr. Howie Choset’s snake robot, small ROVs for bridge inspection and underwater recovery (being coordinated by Dr. Eric Steimle at AEOS),  and our workhorses for inspecting the interior of rubble- Inuktun Extremes and Micro-VGTV. These complement the slightly larger UGVs and Active Scope Camera that the IRS researchers have.

Our hearts and prayers go out to our colleagues and the Japanese people.

Japanese quake: Leading Researchers Gathered at Texas A&M

See video from KBTX on the robots and exercise.

update: the death toll is climbing to horrific numbers and the team is all sending our thoughts and prayers for the victims and to our colleagues who must be so worried about their families.

Ironically, the leading researchers from Japan in rescue robotics led by Dr. Satoshi Tadakoro of the International Rescue Systems Institute are here in the USA for the JST-RESPONDR exercise and workshop that CRASAR organized. They were heading back this morning, but now with more urgency. They have tentatively requested our assistance from our Roboticists Without Borders program, but we are waiting for the required formal request.

The types of robots that based on the exercises and past experience that would be of use include: small Unmanned Aerial Systems to survey damage, particularly from the sides and looking in, snake UGVs (Dr. Howie Choset’s snake was the star of the exercises here and has been used for archeological exploration in Egypt), and underwater ROVs for inspection (Dr. Eric Steimle has had significant experience leading our efforts at Hurricanes Wilma and Ike), and tether-based UGVs (our standard cache).