CRASAR News / Blog

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Toy drone disrupts aircraft fighting California wildfire

A private drone trying to film a wildfire that has charred nearly six square miles in Northern California briefly disrupted firefighting efforts, although workers had gained the upper hand against the blaze, officials said on Monday.

Fire officials spotted the drone over the so-called Sand Fire on Sunday and immediately called police to find the drone’s owner and have the toy grounded to avoid a possible mid-air collision, a California fire official said.

“That drone was flying within our air space and was a hazard for our aircraft,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Kevin Lucero. “It essentially inhibited some of our operations going on.”

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office told the Sacramento Bee newspaper that it was investigating the incident. It said the drone’s owner was a hobbyist trying to film the blaze.

Check out more information at news.msn.com

Origami Robot Could Be Used In Search And Rescue Missions

Researchers developed a robot that employs a self-folding method inspired by the ancient art of origami.

The researchers found a way to coax flat sheets of composite materials to self-fold into robots with complex mobility, the American Association for the Advancement of Science reported. The findings were published in the August 8 edition of Science.

The new robots formed themselves through paper and shape memory polymers; these materials responded to heat above 100 degrees Celsius. The flat composite proved to be able to transform itself into a functional machine in only about four minutes; the final product can crawl at a speed of two inches per second. The new approach allows researchers to produce complex robots that can be scaled to different sizes and are strong for their weight.

Check out more information at hngn.com

China earthquake: Drone on-site plus other ways robots can help.

YouTube Preview Image The death toll continues to rise in China’s Yunnan Province earthquake and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families, and responders.  The Chinese Army is already using drones to provide responders (as well as geologists and hydrologists) with assessment of damage in the remote, rural areas. In general, ground robots are not terribly useful in earthquakes unless there are significant building collapses where canines can smell survivors but robots are needed to crawl in spaces that responders and canines can’t get in.  Unmanned marine vehicles can be useful in help inspecting the underwater portion of bridges and rapidly determining river channels are open so that ships can bring in supplies.  So while robots are unlikely to directly save lives, they fulfill their goal of helping the responders help the survivors!

BBC News: UAS Finds Missing US Man in 20 Minutes

A model drone has helped locate an elderly man in Wisconsin who had been missing for three days.

Search teams using dogs, helicopters and volunteers had combed the countryside around Fitchburg seeking Guillermo DeVenecia. The drone found Mr DeVenecia, who has Alzheimer’s, about 20 minutes after its operator joined the search effort. The success may put pressure on US rules limiting the use of drones in search and rescue operations.

Check out more information at increasinghumanpotential.org

Electronic nose to guide search and rescue robots

A robot that can be guided by an electronic nose invented by a postgraduate student could aid search and rescue missions following natural disasters.

During her postgraduate stay at the Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM) in Mexico, Blanca Lorena Villarreal developed a device that allows multiple robotic platforms to follow the path of certain odors.

The olfactory system is based on artificial intelligence algorithms that enable the detection of the scent of alcohol, but with some modifications to the system and the algorithms it can be made to recognize other chemicals and odors such as blood, sweat or human urine.

Check out more information at eandt.theiet.org (registration to this website is free and is needed in order to view this article).

FAA approves Washington State use of UAS for Wildfires

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has been granted permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to use UAS to monitor wildfires, particularly in an emergency.

Check out more information at auvsi.org

Northrop Grumman & Yamaha Motor Build Unmanned Helicopter System for Wildland Fire Fighting

Northrop Grumman Corporation and Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., have agreed to work together to develop and market an innovative small, unmanned autonomous helicopter system.

Called the Rotary Bat (R-Bat), the new system merges a proven airframe produced by Yamaha, with the latest autonomous control and intelligence-gathering technologies for use in urban environments for applications such as search and rescue, power line inspection and forest fire observation.

Check out more information at uasvision.com

Robot to Use Hiking Poles to Cross Disasters

Last year at the Stanford-Berkeley Robotics Symposium, we saw some tantalizing slides from Oussama Khatib about a humanoid robot that used trekking poles to balance itself. We were promised more details later, and the Stanford researchers delivered at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) this year, where they presented the concept of SupraPed robots.

The idea is equipping robots with a pair of special trekking poles packed with sensors that, according to the researchers, “transforms biped humanoids into tripeds or quadrupeds or more generally, SupraPeds.” By using these smart poles to steady themselves, the robots would be able to navigate through “cluttered and unstructured environments such as disaster sites.”

Check out more information at spectrum.ieee.org

Soon, ‘nature-inspired’ flying robots for search and rescue missions

Scientists from London have come with “nature-inspired” drones or flying robots that will eventually be used for everything from military surveillance to search and rescue.

Check out more information at zeenews.india.com

Finnish Mobile Urban Situation Awareness System Robot

Some 13 researchers from various universities in Finland, including IEEE members Riku Jäntti and Heikki Koivo, have created the Mobile Urban Situation Awareness System,or MUSAS, for short. The system combines information from any number of devices, including handhelds, to provide an overview of an event, and transmits it all to a central location. Information can come from cameras, wireless sensor network, wireless LANs, mapping software, wearable wireless sensors, and remote-controlled robots. With this system, multiple agencies and their rescue operations can be coordinated successfully, especially during times of disasters and emergencies. More lives can be saved as this system can create a map of the area that pinpoints both the location of victims and first responders.

Check out more information at theinstitute.ieee.org