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22 September 2003 Adaptive mobility for rescue robots
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It has often been observed that the most daunting aspect of any crisis response is managing the "unknown unknowns" that inevitably plague incident commanders and emergency personnel at all levels responsible for life and death decisions on a minute by minute basis. In structural collapse situations, for example, rescue crews rarely have even a coarse picture of the number or disposition of people or material scattered amongst the twisted beams and piles of concrete that typically entomb would-be survivors. How can the incident commander decide which beam to lift or even which section of the building to search first in the absence of information of what lies beneath. Even the slightest tug on a concrete slab can collapse potential life harboring void spaces below killing potential survivors in the process. In deploying mobile robots to assist in rescue operations we combined the traditional advantages of machine immunity to fatigue, hazardous materials and environmental controls, with the mechanical design freedom that allowed small platforms to penetrate deep into rubble to expand both situational awareness and operational influence of rescue services at the World Trade Center and mountainous snow-bound caves in Afghanistan. We learned a great deal from these experiences with regard to robot emloyment and design. This paper endeavors to share a few of our more prominent lessons learned regarding portable robot mobility as a means to manage user expectations and stimulate more innovative and adaptive design.
© (2003) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
John G. Blitch "Adaptive mobility for rescue robots", Proc. SPIE 5071, Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Defense and Law Enforcement II, (22 September 2003);


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