A different way of making rescue robots friendlier is designing them to look more like people, and making them big and strong enough to lift and carry unconscious disaster victims for long distances without hurting them. One example is the Battlefield Extraction Assist Robot (BEAR) prototype, built by Vecna Robotics and funded by the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. The BEAR, an all-terrain, search-and-rescue, humanoid robot, can lift and carry up to 500 pounds. It's designed to locate, lift, and rescue people, and it can grasp fragile objects without damaging them. The powerful torso and arms are controlled by hydraulics, and its mobility platform has two independent sets of tracked legs. The robot balances itself on the balls of its ankles, and it can remain upright while balancing on its knees or hips. Aside from search and rescue, it can be used for handling hazardous materials, surveillance and reconnaissance, mine inspection, heavy lifting, and warehouse automation. (Source: US Army)
Beth, I had the same impression about BEAR: haven't I seen this in a movie someplace? I'd bet the Hollywood producers and writers of those movies have done their homework and were inspired at least partly by some of these real robots. The other part I'd guess comes straight from the pages of science fiction novels, graphic novels and comic books.
Most of these search and rescue/first responder robots are designed to get into tight spaces and navigate dangerous territory, while also providing reconnaissance about dangerous conditions and/or locating or helping victims. For example, Survivor Buddy, Gemini-Scout, the aptly named FirstLook, Georgia Tech's tiny MAST robots, Surveyor SRV-1, and Hector GV. The larger DARPA bots are aimed at clearing a path for first responders and/or helping victims. I suspect they'd also be useful for archeological exploration: some of the surveillance-type robots in the nautical robots slideshow
Most of the robots featured are suited for surveillance, which can lead to rescue, but don't address the most hazardous issues in search and rescue. Getting through tight spots or in collapsed buildings prevent human rescuers from reaching victims quickly.
I'd love to see if the robots featured here can help archeologists.
Bear is really cool and could do wonders for saving lives. That robot and some of the others look like they are straight from a Hollywood action flick. I think with the robots that actually interact with victims, incorporating as much humanoid technology as possible is probably a plus.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.