CRASAR News / Blog

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9/11: Thoughts on the Anniversary of the WTC Disaster and First Use of Robots

I am spending the anniversary of 9/11 at the World Bank Headquarters at the World Reconstruction Conference. I was invited to give a talk on how disaster robots can be used for the recovery phase of disasters (as opposed to the search and rescue/response phase). In many ways, it was the kind of talk I had expected to give on the 13th anniversary of the first use of robots for a disaster.  I was able to proudly show  that land, sea, and aerial robots are already being used for recovery efforts. For example, the joint IRS-CRASAR team that fielded marine robots to the 2011 Japanese tsunami helped with the recovery of the region, re-opening the Minami-sanriku fishing port and finding polluting debris in the aquaculture. The decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is likely to go on for decades and robots are essential to the safe and cost-effective work.

But it was also the kind of talk that I hadn’t expected to give because 13 years after the successful use of ground robots, 10 years after marine vehicles, and 9 years after small aerial vehicles, robots still are not routinized into disasters! The responders don’t have them and as best I can tell in 36 disasters where robots have been reported to be used, the robots were borrowed in 35 cases- the agency that needed them didn’t have them.

The past 13 years have continued to show the potential, I believe the next 3 will be where we see the rapid adoption of disaster robotics.

Our respects to the victims, their families, and the responders and my thanks to the great team that John Blitch pulled together for CRASAR’s and the world’s first use of robots.

Now, shape-changing ‘squishy’ robots that tread over extreme conditions for rescue ops

Engineers have created a shape-changing “soft” robot that can tread over a variety of adverse environmental conditions including snow, puddles of water, flames, making them useful in search and rescue operations.

Check out more information at zee news.india.com

RCMP use drone to find family lost in the woods

On Saturday at 4:30 p.m., two adults and their 17-month-old child entered the woods off the Highway 107 extension. The Dartmouth family got lost and called police around 8:30 p.m. Sgt. Linda Gray with Halifax District RCMP tells Global News that police tried using sirens to pinpoint where the family was but did not have any luck.

A drone was deployed, and the family was found in a heavily wooded area northeast of Topsail Lake. Police located the family and walked them out of the woods around 2 a.m. on Sunday. There were no injuries.

Check out more information at globalnews.ca

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

Thailand robot search and rescue in building collapse

Last night, BART LAB Rescue Robotics Team performed in a real search and rescue situation in the northern part of Bangkok where an under construction 6-story building has collapsed in the late afternoon.

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