Robots to the Rescue

By: Amanda O'Neal
By: Amanda O'Neal

In times of emergencies and disasters, there are often places where humans can't go. In those cases, responders often rely on technology to get things done. They got a little practice Tuesday at Disaster City on the campus of Texas A&M University.

The remote controlled robots may look like toys, but they're not used for fun and games. Search and rescue team members and robot makers from all over the country are testing the robots in simulated disaster challenges.

“We want to do this regularly and we also want to come up with tests that everybody agrees can measure the performance of the robots," said Elena Messina with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

There are three categories for the robots: Ground, aerial, and aquatic response. Each has a camera and can have other attachments added such as arms and trailers.

Training scenarios include building collapse and wall climbing. Workers maneuvered the robots and monitored capabilities. The robots are able to go and move around in places that are too dangerous for humans.

“We actually have a safety factor that's better off for us but it's also going to be able to provide us infrared capabilities, heat sensing capabilities some capabilities that humans just can't do as well," said Bob McKee with Texas Task Force One.

The goal of this training is to figure out which robots will and will not work in different types of search and rescue missions. And to one day make robots apart of task force team gear.

The robots are operated on lithium batteries or electric power but often times there wasn't enough power for the robots to get over debris. But developers will continue to work with responders to improve the quality.

The training will continue the rest of this week. Robotics teams from area schools will also get to see some practices.


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