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Slideshow: Rescue Robots Save the Day
7/23/2012

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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)
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)

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Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Making advances
Jack Rupert, PE   7/28/2012 5:29:17 PM
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Actually, when I saw that first picture I thought it was supposed to be a cat - not a bear.  Not too sure I want my life in the "paws" of a cat.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Making advances
Ann R. Thryft   7/27/2012 1:12:22 PM
I agree with bob. Firefighters can be scary enough in all that gear. Darth Vader? Hadn't thought about it, but I see your point.

Droid
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Fascinating robotics site
Droid   7/25/2012 9:38:24 AM
This is not directly on topic.   But here's a link to a fascinating robotics site I just ran across.   http://www.users.qwest.net/~kmaxon/index.html  Hundreds of photos.

Droid
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Oh my.....
Droid   7/25/2012 9:23:27 AM
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The sentence in this article that caught my eye starts as follows.  "When the robot finds a victim, the head can be detached......."   I'm glad that was explained further! LOL.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Making advances
Ann R. Thryft   7/24/2012 1:02:52 PM
Beth, those studies have been done and that's what Survivor Buddy is all about. The investigators studied things like robot "body language" and sounds, for example, which is one reason the GUI was designed with help from Pixar engineers. The studies were done in the context of what worked and didn't work in the wake of 9/11. And personally, I think BEAR is scary, not cute.

bob from maine
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Re: Making advances
bob from maine   7/24/2012 12:55:52 PM
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Humans being rescued by Firefighters in full turn-out gear is pretty scary. A Firefighter wearing a SCBA with a full mask, sounding like Darth Vader is enough to send kids and adults crawling into greater danger rather than risk being 'saved' by the creature from your nightmares. Using rescue robots for size-up, search and rescue if possible will greatly reduce the need to put human responders into unknown risk scenarios. Wounded soldiers would know ahead-of-time that their rescue may be from a robot and would be more likely to accept that help.  

ervin0072002
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Re: Making advances
ervin0072002   7/24/2012 11:28:37 AM
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One solution is sedatives. they can be implimented in the form of vapor or gas in the event of a panicing victim. in cases of fire a sleeping victim might breath less and incur less damage to lungs. they will strugle less and the load will be safer to carry. Im sure other features can later be added to drive even through walls of fire. Temporary water spray to cool the victim and protect them as the robot drives through extreme environment, etc...

The other solution is a more stable robot to carry a shifting load and a better trained victim. In the case of a solder being evacuated all of a sudden a wounded soldier might still be able enough to provide suppresive fire to defend himself/herself and the robot.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Making advances
Beth Stackpole   7/24/2012 7:52:07 AM
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The big question is would a human in a panic situation not panic further if a robot (even a cute one like Bear) rolled towards them to try to carry them down the stairs or out of a building. Your first instinct might be to run away from the robot given the turmoil that's engulfing you, creating more of a flight instinct. I'm wondering how much they can test for those scenarios without replicating the actual desperation of the scene. And if that were indeed the case, then how effective could the robots actually be in saving lives.

Charles Murray
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Making advances
Charles Murray   7/23/2012 8:47:25 PM
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When we wrote about the BEAR a few years ago, plans were for it to be able to lift a 250-lb man and "carry him down a flight of stairs," but it wasn't yet able to do that. Now, I see it's up to 500 lbs.

http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=217033

Dave Palmer
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Re: Hollywood inspirations
Dave Palmer   7/23/2012 1:08:40 PM
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I was going to say that "Rescue Robots" would make a great Saturday morning cartoon show, but unfortunately, somebody beat me to it.

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