Dan Goldman’s work in duplicating sandfish made it into Science News– a reminder of how biomimetic robots could make a real difference in disasters such as the New Zealand earthquake with its dense rubble. The responders continue to find survivors which is fantastic but are racing the clock. We wish we were there to help with more than our prayers- may all the survivors be found quickly, families reunited, and the recovery be quick!
We’re watching the NZ quake and wishing the survivors, families, and responders the very best. CRASAR and the sister groups pursuing emergency informatics at Texas A&M and the International Rescue Systems Institute in Japan are on stand-by and have put out the usual offers of assistance- just a reminder we don’t self-deploy.
The NZ quake is a reminder of how important having technology immediately on site is critical, as the first 72 hours are especially critical for life-saving, and for understanding the overall situation to begin recovery planning (which occurs in parallel with the rescue activities but doesn’t get quite the media attention).
In terms of recovery, being able to understand the structural damage, what might collapse in the aftershocks, and what it takes to repair schools, hospitals, and municipal buildings and get them open is important. Ground robots can be used to penetrate the rubble and get the “inside” view. Aerial vehicles, particularly small helicopters, can give structural engineers views that planes or a pair of binoculars on the ground can’t provide. And let’s not forget about bridges, seawalls, ports, and shipping lanes!