White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Brainstorming

A big shout out for the FEMA Think Tank team for their White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Brainstorming session. The focus was primarily on citizen to citizen informatics for relief, but one of the 10  “winning” topics was something that researchers here have been working on: crowd sourcing imagery. James Caverlee and John Mander as part of the Center for Emergency Informatics, our “mother” center, have been exploring what it takes to understand the state of damage from a civil engineering perspective with funding from NSF.

Just a note that robotics generally provide public sector to public sector informatics (deployed by an agency, data is used by an agency) that is mostly used for response and recovery, versus relief efforts.  Robots, especially UAVs, could contribute to the crowd sourcing of imagery, so even though robotics wasn’t one of the top 10 ideas, it was hidden in there!

Recce Robotics signs deal to make and distribute VGVT, the workhorses of the WTC Disaster

Inuktun Services Ltd. (ISL) has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Recce Robotics International Inc. (R2i2) to manufacture and distribute the Variable Geometry Tracked Vehicle™ (VGTV™). Dr. James Plant, president of R2i2, says that his company plans to expand the robot’s ability to inspect ducts, culverts and nuclear facilities by making it more modular and integrating different types of sensors. This robot was among four selected to search the rubble of the Twin Towers after the 9/11 attacks and was also used in Hurricane Katrina.

Here is the link to the full article at: www.inuktun.com.

The Response Robotics Summer School 2013 – Early Registrations Closing Soon!


The Response Robotics Summer School (RRSS) is a hands-on summer school on the challenges and Best-in-Class solutions for Response Robotics, with a focus on the challenges posed by Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) and remote handling for response applications.

This event is a collaboration between the Curtin University of Technology Department of Computing, the Western Australia Police Bomb Response Unit, the DHS-NIST-ASTM International Standard Test Methods for Response Robots development effort, the RoboCup Federation through the RoboCupRescue Robot League, and Robolit LLC. It is run in conjunction with the Bomb Response Technology Seminar (BRTS), an event for EOD responders and equipment manufacturers from around Australia, the region, and the world.

The event is primarily aimed at PhD and masters students, final year undergraduate project students and early career researchers. We welcome participants from both within and outside the RoboCupRescue Robot League community, as well as participants from Australia and abroad. We particularly welcome participants who are interested in and/or intending to participate in the RoboCupRescue Robot League competitions.

We also welcome representatives of industry and government, including manufacturers, research companies and other organisations that wish to participate within the framework of the academic and responder programs and/or who wish to share and demonstrate their capabilities during the exercises and take advantage of the DHS-NIST-ASTM International Standard Test Methods for Response Robots. Likewise, we welcome interested members of the community who are working on solving these challenges outside of academic and industrial research settings.

This intensive five-day summer school is the latest in a long line of summer schools and teaching camps that started with the original Rescue Robotics Camp in Rome in 2004 and most continued most recently with the IEEE-RAS Safety, Security and Rescue Robotics Summer School 2012 in Alanya, Turkey. It is an outreach activity of the DHS-NIST-ASTM International Standard Test Methods for Response Robots program and has been established by members of the SSRR research community, including members of the Organising Committee of the International RoboCupRescue Robot League, to better address the rapidly growing need for effective robotic solutions in emergency response scenarios.

We encourage participants to bring their prototypical implementations of solutions to challenges within this domain. There will be opportunities to demonstrate these solutions both to other participants as well as to responders, and to evaluate and compare these solutions to those currently in deployment within the framework of the DHS-NIST-ASTM International Standard Test Methods for Response Robots.

Please visit the website at http://www.responserobotics.org/ or send email to info@responserobotics.org if you have any further questions or if you would like to be added to the low volume Response Robotics Summer School announcements mailing list.


The summer school runs from Monday the 9th to Friday the 13th of September, 2013.

Registrations are now open! Attendees should visit the website, http://www.responserobotics.org/ , for registration details. Registration prices increase in August and close at the end of August. Admission to the summer school is competitive and decided by the Organising Committee. Please see the website for registration instructions and further details.

Due to the nature of the facilities at which this event will be held, all participants must be registered in advance. There will be no on-site registrations available.

This event is capacity limited so we encourage participants to register early!


Attendees are encouraged to bring highly relevant, working implementations of their research to demonstrate to the attendees of the RRSS and BRTS, within the DHS-NIST-ASTM International Standard Test Methods for Response Robots. Demonstrations sought include, but are not limited to, novel sensing, artificial intelligence, mobility, manipulation, mechanisms and user interfaces, that address gaps in current response robot capabilities. A small number of registration fee waivers will be granted to students and researchers from academic institutions who bring such demonstrations, eligibility for which will be decided by the Organising Committee. Please contact us at info@responserobotics.org to discuss eligibility and arrangements for the demonstration. Applications for these waivers will close on the 9th of August.

Attendees from non-academic sectors are also encouraged to bring demonstrations of highly relevant technologies. Please contact us to make arrangements.


The event will open on Monday and Tuesday with academic presentations focusing on the research challenges and current developments in response robotics. Participants will gain a comprehensive overview of the state-of-the-art in crucial areas of research and deployed capabilities, as well as the experiences and needs of the end users.

Participants of the RRSS will join attendees of the BRTS on Wednesday for joint seminars on topics of common interest, followed by preparations for the practical sessions.

The event will continue on Thursday and Friday with joint practical exercises. Participants of the RRSS will work alongside attendees of the BRTS, deploying both commercial and prototypical robotic solutions within the DHS-NIST-ASTM International Standard Test Method for Response Robots apparatuses and operational scenarios at the Western Australia Police Bomb Response Unit’s training and test facilities. Through these joint exercises, participants will be able to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges of the field, identify gaps for further research, test and refine their prototypical implementations, and share their developments with the wider research and responder community.

Please visit http://www.responserobotics.org/ for the latest information on topics and speakers.


The lecture component of this event will be held at the Western Australia Police Bomb Response Unit facility in Maylands and the practical exercises will be conducted at a Police Training Facility close to Perth in Western Australia. Perth International Airport may be easily reached with regular direct services from many hubs within Oceania, Asia and the Middle East, and via scheduled connecting flights from elsewhere.

For further information about ground transportation and hotel arrangements please consult the website.


The RRSS is one of a set of inter-related summer schools, teaching camps, conferences, competitions and evaluation exercises, held around the world throughout the year, that aim to focus research efforts into Safety, Security and Rescue Robotics. Participants with a particular interest in 3D mapping, path planning and software architectures, as applied to this domain, are invited to also consider the Rescue Robotics Camp 2013, co-located with the IEEE International Symposium on Safety, Security, and Rescue Robotics (SSRR 2013), to be held in Linkoping, Sweden, from the 21st to the 23rd of October.

Please see the website for a list of other events.


General Chair:
– Raymond Sheh, US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Robolit LLC, Department of Computing at Curtin University of Technology (from September 2013)

– Bill Collidge, Western Australia Police Bomb Response Unit
– Haldun Komsuoglu, Robolit LLC
– Mihai Lazarescu, Department of Computing at Curtin University of Technology

Advisory Committee:
– Adam Jacoff, NIST

We look forward to seeing you in Perth!

White House: Robots are more than meets the eye

On Friday August 9th, Dr. Murphy participated in “We are the Geeks,” a Google+ Hangout facilitated by the White House as part of the National Robotics Initiative, which President Barack Obama announced in June 2011. Dr. Murphy was one of 5 experts in diffrent feilds of robotics, and she was able to show off some of the exciting research she is doing in Disaster robotics.

Here is some full article one from: The Eagle and The Washington Post

If you missed the talk here is a link to the Google+ Hangout.

DALER project shows a walking flying robot

Laboratory of Intelligent Systems has developed a robot that can fly then land and unlock its wings and walk on them. The project could be used for search and rescue in that it can fly and land, then move over rough terrain. This is the first prototype of the DALER (Deployable Air Land Exploration Robot) Project.

Here is the full article at: Phys.org.