Archive for January, 2015

Mexico City hospital collapse…

A building collapse is almost always terrible, a building collapse of a maternity ward is unthinkable. All of us send our thoughts and prayers to the families of this horrible event.

Although there is no news about any robots being used, robots were first used in disasters for commercial multi-story building collapses– notably the 9/11 World Trade Center. Commercial multi-story buildings present unique challenges for searching because the concrete floors can be densely pancaked in some areas with just inches of space and leave survivable voids in others.

Small robots like the shoe-boxed sized micro VGTV and micro Tracks by Inkutun were used the most at the WTC because they could go into the rubble where a person or dog could not fit and could go further than a camera on a wand. That is still the case, with small robots being used to go between tightly packed layers of rubble at the Berkman Plaza II collapse in Jacksonville (2007) and the Prospect Towers collapse in New Jersey (2010).

Bigger robots such as the IED robots like iRobot Packbot and QinetiQ Talon are often too big for the size of voids in the rubble of a pancake collapse. Really large, “maxi” robots such as the REMOTEC series are not only too big, but the weight poses a problem- as in they are so heavy they could cause a secondary collapse.

If anyone knows of other multi-story building collapses where robots were used, please let me know and a reference and I’ll send a CRASAR patch.

In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers to the families in Mexico…

Emergency Management Magazine…

There’s nothing like appearing on the home page of Emergency Management Magazine to trigger a “holy cow, I haven’t been keeping up the blog!” It’s been hugely busy here between working with students colleagues, and industry partners on

  • creating use cases for robots for Ebola and other infectious diseases with a grant from the National Science Foundation (Eric Rasmussen, MD FACP,  and our medical director for Roboticists Without Borders is the co-PI),
  • prepping UAVs for an upcoming wilderness search and rescue exercise with Brazos Valley Search and Rescue (big shout out to the FAA and CSA for their help!),
  • prepping for the Robot Petting Zoo we are doing with the Field Innovation Team at SXSW to show off real robots used in real disasters,
  • getting to work with Prof. Howie Choset at CMU and Prof. Dan Goldman at Georgia Tech on burrowing robots through a National Robotics Initiative grant from NSF, and
  • teaching an class overload (add case studies of robots at disasters to undergrad robotics as part of my Faculty Fellow for Innovation in teaching award, plus the AggiE Challenge advised by Profs. Dylan Shell, Craig Marianno, and myself on creating ground and water robots to detect radiation )

So things are happening!  Thank you for your donations that make it possible to bring robots to new venues such as wilderness search and rescue and public education events like the Robot Petting Zoo. Most of what we do is based on donations, so please donate here!

 

15 Things Robot Designers Can Learn From Cats

Humans have long admired the ability of cats to always land on their feet — known as the cat righting reflex. The flexible bodies of our feline friends allow them to twist as they fall. It’s no wonder then, that researchers at Georgia Tech are studying the way cats flex and turn in the air – so they can apply what they learn in designing robots that can land without sustaining damage. The applications are numerous!

Check out more information and check out 15 other cat qualities scientists could study to make better robots (as told by Susan C. Willett) at catster.com

Drone America and AMR Collaborate on UAVs for Emergency Rescue

Drone America, an aerospace company, and American Medical Response (AMR), a medical transportation company, have announced a partneship that aims to bring Unmanned Autonomous Systems (UAS) to the EMS industry. By leveraging UAS technologies, AMR’s specialty teams would be able to provide swifter and safer rescue operations in dangerous situations such as disaster response, mountain rescue and swift water rescues.

“We are looking at the various potentials for the use of UAS’s for both the delivery of medical services such as an AED, and as a platform for public safety such as search and rescue operations and communications platforms,” said AMR’s Senior Vice President of Operations Randall Strozyk.

A pre-production model of Drone America’s medical DAx8 UAS was revealed at AMR’s booth during the American Ambulance Association conference in Las Vegas. Recently the AMR DAx8 gave a short flight demonstration inside a North Lake Tahoe Fire Department station for a Channel 8 KOLO News story about drones.

“Drone America’s DAx8 is specifically engineered with emergency services and first responders in mind,” said President and CEO of Drone America Mike Richards.

Check out more information at unmannedsystemstechnology.com