Structural Inspection with Unmanned Vehicles

katrina sger heli isle of capriMy book Disaster Robotics (MIT Press, Kindle, and iBook) covers structural inspection, documents 16 cases where robots have been used for structural inspection after disasters (the majority by CRASAR, but I’ve documented all cases I can find reported through April 2013) and has criteria for choosing what robot,  what the different work envelopes are,  lots of tables/figures per modality, and failure taxonomy and rates.
Here’s a quick guide to structural inspection in Disaster Robotics

– Chi1 defines structural inspection tasks versus recon and other tasks identified for disaster robotics.

– Ch2 list of robots used for what incident, formal failure taxonomy; this gives an overview of the 16 cases where robots have been used for structural inspection

– Ch3 use of ground robots for structural inspection, environments/work envelopes, describes the 5 cases where UGVs used for structural inspection, formulas for how to size a robot for an inspection task and a set of design spaces, gaps

– Ch4 use of UAVs for structural inspection, environments/work envelopes, describes the 7 cases where UAVs have been used for structural inspection, choice of rotorcraft versus fixed wing, conops,  human-robot ratio and safety, issues with lots of GPS,  gaps

– Ch5 use of marine vehicles for structural inspection, environments/work envelopes, describes the 4 cases where UMVs have been used for structural inspection, the need to inspect upstream not just the bridge substructure,  choice of AUV, ROV, UMV, gaps

– Ch6 how to conduct fieldwork and data analysis, using structural inspection as an example

Nature’s Fury Challenge FIRST Lego League teams compete in robotics challenge

Students this year had to program a robot that would handle natural disaster situations with a theme of nature’s fury. Two local teams represented the SPR Robotics group in Annapolis. Team F.I.R.E (Flaming Intelligent Robotic Engineers) chose wildfires, and Team E.W.O.K.S. (Engineers Working on Killah’ Solutions) chose hurricanes as their targeted natural disaster. The kids designed, built and programmed their own Lego Mindstorm Robots to compete in games and obstacle courses.

Here is the full article at
Here is an article from one of the teams at

DARPA Official: Human-Robot Teams Key to Disaster Response

Dr. Gill Pratt wrote in the January-February edition of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, “Over a period of less than three years,DARPA expects the field of robotics to undergo a historic transformation that could drive innovation in robots for defense, health care, agriculture and industry.”

This advancement is in part because of the DARPA Robotics Challenge which has under gone two of the three competitions. The final will be coming up soon and Pratt says the plan is to make the tasks more difficult and more authentic than they were in the trials.“My thought right now, and this is subject to change,” Pratt added, “is [to] take the eight different tasks we had as separate events in the trials and … combine them into an integrated task where the robot has to respond to a situation,” chaining together capabilities it demonstrated in the trials.

This final event will help show that robots can be used in the field of disasters,but the technology still won’t be quite ready for commercialization.“The technology will be ready for commercialization if a market can be found in the commercial world for it,” Pratt said. “What many people don’t realize is that the defense market is a very small fraction of the size of the commercial market.”

He added, “After we show the feasibility of things, after we provide the spark to start it, then we need to enter a phase where the costs get driven down. And the commercial world typically is very, very good for that.”

Check out the full article at