Harnessing robot research a searching task

Mar 25, 2013
Harnessing robot research a searching task
Co-director of the WSRN Dr Jan Carlo Barca with a quadcopter.

A new laboratory dedicated to technologies at the cutting edge of an emerging field of robotics could radically improve the way search and rescue operations are conducted. The Monash Swarm Robotics Laboratory – to be administered by the Faculty of Information Technology – will collaborate with the Wireless Sensors and Robot Networks (WSRN) Laboratory to produce swarm robotics technologies.

Swarm robotics makes use of principles observed in , such as , , schools of fish, bacteria colonies, cells in human or , and physics to coordinate the behaviour of groups of robots.

Co-director of the WSRN, Dr Jan Carlo Barca, who has been researching swarm robotics for the past four years, is developing technologies that can be used to search for objects, people and phenomena in general – such as pollution.

"We have chosen to focus on search and rescue in disaster sites, as this will enable us to assist rescue workers in saving human lives," Dr Barca said.

At the moment, the particular emphasis for the technology will be in aiding rescue workers tasked with locating people in GPS-denied environments. Environments of interest include regions where smoke obstructs the view from satellites, partially collapsed buildings, regions that are covered by clouds, tunnel systems and where human-made structures impede the view from the sky.

Dr Barca and his team are developing technologies that enable groups of flying and ground-moving robots to coordinate their behaviours - using wireless communication technology - and transmit information about their environment back to a base station, which could be located far away from where the robots are operating.

Dr Barca predicted that over the next 20 years will evolve in such a way that humans will be able "feel present" at a remote location via robots, and even experience a phenomenon known as 'multi-presence'.

"If there were multiple robots then you could be made to feel that you are at the locations of all the robots simultaneously, hence multi-presence. One simple example is when a guard in a control room looks at many screens that display live footage captured from multiple security cameras."

His shorter term hope is that by next year the technology will be advanced enough to carry out tasks that can aid in search and rescue efforts.

"This new technology will enable the search for natural resources, people and pollution, or the exploration of remote and dangerous environments, to be conducted effectively, without exposing humans to danger," Dr Barca said.

"It will enable us to shape our environments more efficiently than ever before and to exploit the sensing capabilities of large groups, which means that one can find areas of interest quickly, decide whether to enter them, and quickly determine when to leave."

Explore further: SRI microrobots show fast-building factory approach (w/ video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tests check out rescue robots' life-saving vision

Jun 12, 2008

To save lives, search and rescue robots crawling through the rubble of a collapsed building or surveying a chemical spill area must be capable of beaming back clear, easily interpretable images of what they "see" to operators ...

Conflicting signals can confuse rescue robots

Mar 02, 2007

Sensor-laden robots capable of vital search and rescue missions at disaster sites are no figment of a science fiction writer's imagination. Prototypes and commercial models of urban search and rescue (US&R) robots will soon ...

Flocking robots take to the sky (w/ video)

Sep 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The next time you look up in the sky and think you are seeing a flock of geese flying south for the winter, take a closer look. If you are in Lake Geneva, Switzerland, these flocks may actually ...

Robots climb up the wall (w/ Video)

Jan 19, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A robotics scientist from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheeba, Israel, has developed four different kinds of robots that climb up walls.

Kilobots bring us one step closer to a robot swarm

Jun 17, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- When you think about robots, the odds are that you think about something that is fairly large. Maybe you picture a robot arms bolted to the floor of a factory or if you are feeling particularly ...

Recommended for you

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

Apr 16, 2014

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Students turn $250 wheelchair into geo-positioning robot

Apr 16, 2014

Talk about your Craigslist finds! A team of student employees at The University of Alabama in Huntsville's Systems Management and Production Center (SMAP) combined inspiration with innovation to make a $250 ...

Using robots to study evolution

Apr 14, 2014

A new paper by OIST's Neural Computation Unit has demonstrated the usefulness of robots in studying evolution. Published in PLOS ONE, Stefan Elfwing, a researcher in Professor Kenji Doya's Unit, has succes ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into an increasing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.

White House updating online privacy policy

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...