A new robotic tool could help rescue workers locate victims of disasters and other emergencies before venturing into collapsed buildings or other potentially dangerous places.
Developed by researchers at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico, the new robotic system enables small, rugged bots — designed for search-and-rescue missions — to distinguish between human bodies and other objects, such as piles and rubble.
As the robot roams around a disaster site, it snaps pictures of its surroundings with the 3D camera and then sends those images to the computer. The computer then scans the images for patterns that might indicate the presence of a human body, using a specially created algorithm. The algorithm must first break down visual information into mathematical data by using what’s known as a descriptor system, which assigns numerical values to different parts of the 3D images. The numbers represent the different shapes, colors and densities of the objects in the picture.
All of this mathematical data is then merged together to create a second, much simpler, image. This image is passed through another algorithm, which detects whether the object that appears in the new image is a person or something else.
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