Murphy Offers Suggestions to Japanese Government for Faster International Deployments of Rescue Robots (press release)

Dr. Robin Murphy, a pioneer in the area of rescue robotics, spoke to the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) Dec. 11 in Tokyo.

Murphy directs the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue in the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and is the Raytheon Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University.

NEDO is a new Japanese agency focusing on increasing Japan’s industrial competitiveness. The agency is considering creating an international rescue robot team for disasters. Murphy provided a unique perspective as the leader in robot deployments, having participated 15 disasters including the World Trade Center collapse, Hurricanes Charley and Katrina, and Fukushima Daiichi.

“Life saving activities are effectively over after three days,” Murphy said, “but robots aren’t being used on average until four days after the disaster — too late to make a difference.”

In the case of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear event, suitable Japanese and U.S. robots were already in Japan and could have been used immediately, but due to a lack of information, trust in the robots, and other concerns, the first aerial and ground robots were not used until a month after the event.

Money has not been the barrier, Murphy said. She described how companies have consistently donated robots and experts with no charge for disasters the through the CRASAR Roboticists Without Borders program.

Murphy made three recommendations. First, the U.S. and Japan should work together to establish relationships between countries and agencies in order to improve the understanding of rescue robots and to enable rapid deployment. Second, governments should provide funding for transportation, logistics, and preparatory activities such as training and vetting robots. Third, there should be clear mechanisms to provide feedback to the robotics industry and to research so they can continue to improve designs. For more on the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue visit

TEES is an engineering research agency of the State of Texas and a member of The Texas A&M University System.

Contact Dr. Robin Murphy,, 979.845.8737

UAV used with Chemical Train Derailment- just like IEEE SSRR Paper Predicted

The Unmanned Systems Technology website reports that a Datron Scout was used to assist with a chemical train derailment last week. This is a great use of small UAVs and one which CRASAR has been exploring with TEEX through funding by the National Science Foundation.  Josh Peschel (now a research professor at the University of Illinois), Clint Arnett (TEEX), Chief David Martin (TEEX), and I presented a paper two weeks ago at the IEEE International Symposium on Safety, Security, and Rescue Robotics on “Projected Needs for Robot-Assisted Chemical, Biological, Radiological, or Nuclear (CBRN) Incidents”  based on Josh’s PhD work with 20 domain experts using a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to investigate a simulated chemical train derailment at Disaster City(r). The paper was a finalist for Best Paper.  Good to see the Scout used!

Hurricane Sandy: watching and prepping for SSRR

A post from reminded me that I hadn’t updated the blog about Hurricane Sandy. We have not been called and really didn’t expect to be. Sandy hit the NJ/NY area- home turf to Jim Bastan and NJ-TF1, the US&R task force that has been aggressively adopting robots.  They fielded the ground robots at the Prospect Towers collapse and also have been experimenting with UAVs. Likewise FDNY and NYPD have access to a wide set of technologies through the DHS National Urban Science and Technology lab.

Remember: Roboticists Without Borders patch to pointers to where robots have/are being used! Help me keep the list of robots and disasters growing!

We do expect to assist with recovery efforts such as what we did in Japan, especially with underwater assessment. In the meantime, I am personally working on the finishing touches for the 10th IEEE International Symposium on Safety, Security, and Rescue Robots, which starts on Monday. I’m the general chair with Dr. Alex Kleiner, a fabulously talented researcher in Sweden,  serving as the conference chair organizing the 43 papers from 10 countries doing most of the real work!

A Decade of Rescue Robots Video out!

Check out our new video presented at IROS 2012 for the Jubilee video competition: It shows the past ten years of rescue robots and CRASAR’s deployments.