Heads Up, SUGV!

packbotandbus The iRobot SUGV is the smaller sister of the most commonly used robot at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, the iRobot Packbot 510 (shown in the photo). Both robots have manipulator arms in addition to their cameras in order to open doors, turn over debris, and insert sensor probes. Packbot has been used at the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster (iRobot was an original member of CRASAR) and the Christchurch earthquake. While waiting for the next disaster or exercise, Packbot and SUGV are used for disaster research through funding by the National Science Foundation (CNS-0923203,IIS-0905485).

The Packbot and SUGV series were designed for handing improvised explosive devices and general military operations in urban terrains. Packbot and SUGV are wireless and have 2-4 hours of power, but most often used with a fiber-optic cable to guarantee connection to the operator.

The SUGV uses a heads-up display similar to Google Glass. The SUGV also substitutes Survivor Buddy for her manipulators, carrying Survivor Buddy, for telemedicine research. The idea in the military was that the heads-up display would let a soldier operate the robot while still looking around and making sure no one was shooting at them. Heads-up displays have not very useful in disaster robotics for two reasons. One is that they often interfere with the safety googles and hardhats that responders wear. The other is that searching for victims or cracks in walls that mean a building is about to collapse is visually-directed- it is harder than driving around and not hitting something.

Assistant Zookeepers will learn about how hard it is conduct visually directed tasks through a heads-up display by

  • Placing a sensor into a pipe, similar to a task robots did at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident without the HUD
  • Repeating with the HUD and seeing if they can do it faster