Archive for November, 2013

Disaster In Latvia As Store’s Roof Collapses, Killing Dozens

The view from above is chilling at the scene of a disaster in a suburb of the Latvian capital of Riga, where the roof of a supermarket collapsed Thursday evening. The reported death toll is at 30 and could rise.
Here is a link to the article at NPR.

GimBall: The flying robot that navagates by crashing

Introducing GimBall — a spherical flying robot encased in a flexible cage, which allows it to happily smash into surfaces while navigating disaster sites. This technology would be very helpful in searching a disaster area where there is a large amount of debris.
Here is a link to the full article at CNN.

Phillippines: Yolanda and robots

The death toll appears to be horrific in the wake of the Super Typhoon Yolanda– we are getting inquiries as to assistance. Our thoughts and prayers go out the victims and their families.

UAVs, if on site, can provide immediate damage assessment and locate pockets of trapped survivors as well as the best transportation routes. However, if manned aircraft are available, coordination of airspace may be difficult and manned assets will generally wave off if they see an unknown UAV no matter how low or small in the area they are working in.

UMVs– water based robots- may be of great help for searching for submerged victims and determining the state of bridges, seawalls, polluting debris, etc. While this does not help with life saving, it can enormous economic impact. Initially, ROVs and unmanned surface vehicles (boats) have advantages over AUVs (underwater robots)– AUVs can’t detect the debris in the water, whereas ROVs are on a tether and USVs work on the surface. We used ROVs for the Japanese Tohoku tsunami with our partners at the International Rescue Systems Institute and greatly speed up the reopening of a key fishing port.