Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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

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

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 used to search from Queensland miner

story here

Preventing disasters: small unmanned aerial vehicles for evacuation and crowd control

This month’s issue of Smithsonian Magazine has an article  “Why are people so comfortable with drones?” on  Brittany Duncan’s preliminary study for her NSF graduate fellowship research on using small UAS for evacuation and crowd. Brittany is my PhD student who recently flew the AirRobot at the SR530 mudslide response. It’s nice to see that robots are being considered for more than the immediate life-saving aspects of search and rescue. Brittany sees a near future where aerial vehicles can act as “headers” and “heelers” to guide and block people into following the right exits during an evacuation.