Rescue Robots: Flexible and Fearless
Texas A&M University’s Texas Engineering Extension Service operates a 52-acre “Disaster City,” where firefighters and other emergency responders from across the globe can participate in training exercises.
The site was recently the scene of a robotics exercise sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Several varieties of rescue robots participated in the exercise, which included obstacle courses based on mock set-ups of the Oklahoma City bombing, 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Mexico City earthquake.
The robots included a 30-ft., snake-like optic robot that slinks through crevasses and holes while providing images of its discoveries. That robot, produced by university researchers in Japan, is attached to the operator’s body, unlike most robots, which are operated via consoles or laptops.
One Texas A&M official predicted that robots will soon become a regular part of rescue work.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the New York Times (06/25/07); P. A12; Blumenthal, Ralph.