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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
With major product releases coming from big names like Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung, and big investments by companies like Facebook, 2015 could be the year that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) finally pop. Here's take a look back at some of the technologies that got us here (for better and worse).
Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
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.