New frontiers: robotics applied to search & rescue
From sci-fi to reality, the development of robotics may lead to the discovery of new solutions suitable for search and rescue, especially in scenarios that are dangerous for humans. Despite recent progress, according to experts at the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) at Texas A&M University, robots are still too expensive compared with the benefits they can provide. Dr. Julie Adams, a professor at Vanderbilt who studies human-robot interactions, says that the use of robots in search and rescue usually requires the presence of four human robot experts, which makes the cost of using these devices too high. At present, only one robot is used in this type of mission, but some researchers have thought about using multiple robots which could collaborate to carry out a task together.
“However, the more robots you have, the more difficult they are to control and to monitor their feedback”, says Adams. It’s also important to bear in mind the psychological aspects of this kind of rescue. It could be terrifying for someone already in a stressful situation to find themselves approached by several robots.
In this video you can see Japanese prototypes that have been developed to operate in areas contaminated by radiation, like the Fukushima nuclear power plant: the robotic suit with metal jacket that allows a rescuer to enter places that would otherwise be lethal is quite impressive!