As observed on RobotLand,
shortly after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan,
Rescue robots help relief efforts in the aftermath of earthquakes and other
disasters by navigating through wreckage that is too dangerous for people to enter and
by gathering information on missing persons and the surrounding conditions. Small
unmanned marine vehicles, both surface (boats) and ROVs (underwater), can be of
assistance in inspecting bridges for underwater damage or debris posed to crash into
the substructure and damage the bridge. Recent years have seen rapid advances in the
development of these robots, and Japan is a global leader in the field.
Between the advanced state of robotics in Japan, the extent of the damage, and the
likelihood that the wreckage continues to conceal living persons, the current situation
presents an unprecedented, pressing opportunity to put the whole range of rescue
robots to the test. Ironically,
as reported by the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue,
the leading researchers from Japan in rescue robotics
were in the U.S. for the CRASAR-organized
JST-RESPONDR exercise and workshop,
they returned to Japan immediately.
Robin Murphy of CRASAR
has been mentioned here repeatedly
in connection with rescue robots.
POPSCI.com was also quick to publish
an article about (primarily Japanese) rescue robots, including photos, and
PHYSORG.com has video.