All posts by Austin Dalton

Nature’s Fury Challenge FIRST Lego League teams compete in robotics challenge

Students this year had to program a robot that would handle natural disaster situations with a theme of nature’s fury. Two local teams represented the SPR Robotics group in Annapolis. Team F.I.R.E (Flaming Intelligent Robotic Engineers) chose wildfires, and Team E.W.O.K.S. (Engineers Working on Killah’ Solutions) chose hurricanes as their targeted natural disaster. The kids designed, built and programmed their own Lego Mindstorm Robots to compete in games and obstacle courses.

Here is the full article at
Here is an article from one of the teams at

DARPA Official: Human-Robot Teams Key to Disaster Response

Dr. Gill Pratt wrote in the January-February edition of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, “Over a period of less than three years,DARPA expects the field of robotics to undergo a historic transformation that could drive innovation in robots for defense, health care, agriculture and industry.”

This advancement is in part because of the DARPA Robotics Challenge which has under gone two of the three competitions. The final will be coming up soon and Pratt says the plan is to make the tasks more difficult and more authentic than they were in the trials.“My thought right now, and this is subject to change,” Pratt added, “is [to] take the eight different tasks we had as separate events in the trials and … combine them into an integrated task where the robot has to respond to a situation,” chaining together capabilities it demonstrated in the trials.

This final event will help show that robots can be used in the field of disasters,but the technology still won’t be quite ready for commercialization.“The technology will be ready for commercialization if a market can be found in the commercial world for it,” Pratt said. “What many people don’t realize is that the defense market is a very small fraction of the size of the commercial market.”

He added, “After we show the feasibility of things, after we provide the spark to start it, then we need to enter a phase where the costs get driven down. And the commercial world typically is very, very good for that.”

Check out the full article at

Flying Jellyfish-Like Machine Conceptualizes How Tiny Future Surveillance Robots Can Move

Researchers at New York University have taken cues from the aerodynamics of jellyfish to develop a tiny machine that can fly in a way that resembles the movements of the boneless, ocean-dwelling creatures. This unique flying style will allow great movability in small spaces and could be a great addition to any search and rescue arsenal.
Here is the link to the full article at International Business Times.

Robotena the Nurse Robot Transport Will Go Where Emergency Care Can’t

Robotena (, a “nurse robot” which will be able to transport bodies away from the sniper towards a field medic. This robot could be used in Syria, where snipers becoming more and more ruthless and many people are afraid to go near wounded victims for fear of being the next target. One difference is that this robot will be huge, enabling it to protect a victim from further bullets within its metal body.
Here is the link to the full article at Robotics Trends

Aibotix UAS Inspects Germany’s Second-longest Bridge

The Aibot X6, developed by Aibotix in Kassel, Germany, and designed to carry out inspections or operations too dangerous for humans to carry out, can reach places that conventional devices cannot. The Aibot X6 was recently able to utilise its unique features when it inspected the famous Köhlbrand Bridge in Hamburg, Germany making sure it is still safe for drivers.

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.

Nature’s Fury: CRASAR is Helping Coordinate Rescue Roboticists for the FIRST Lego League Competition

The amazing FIRST Robotics Competition Lego League is on disasters this year! Over a dozen rescue roboticists are joining me in providing expert interviews and robotics advice to the middle schoolers participating internationally. CRASAR is also working the Dr. Michael Johnson of the Center for Emergency Informatics to provide awards and educational materials for teachers and parents. CRASAR will be at the DARPA Robotics Challenge with robots used at disasters and experts for the kids to see and interact with. More to come!

Death toll rises after earthquake hits the Philippines

The death toll from the magnitude-7.1 earthquake in the central Philippines rose to 144 on Wednesday, authorities said. This earthquake caused massive damage, with still 20 people missing, and authorities are still searching for them, and anyone else who may be trapped in collapsed buildings.
Here is a link to the article at CNN.

Ridge Theatre demolition site search finds nobody

Vancouver firefighters say a search has concluded nobody was trapped in the rubble of the old Ridge Theatre on Arbutus Street near 16th Avenue on Wednesday morning.

The search was sparked after parts of the building were knocked down before crews checked to make sure if squatters, who had been suspected of using the building at night, had cleared out this morning.

Firefighters say they found no evidence anyone was trapped in the rubble after using a thermal imaging camera, a search and rescue dog, and a Vancouver Police Department robot to search the site.

The full article is at CBC.