Disaster Response Robots

disaster zone


Manufacturing facilities, breweries, printing presses, packaging plants — they’re all obvious places to put automation to work. Here’s another: disaster sites.

If it were possible to avoid sending human beings into flaming buildings, flood waters, or chemical spills, it would of course be a good thing. The recent DARPA competition showed how challenging it is for robots to handle realistic disaster management scenarios — without opposable thumbs and problem solving skills, disaster response robots can be foiled by a locked door.

An Italian team is working on getting their DARPA project, a more humanlike robot with opposable thumbs and a body designed to work with a human-friendly environment. They believe that this is the key to success. Disaster sites, they point out, will still be environments that were designed for human use, not for wheeled vehicles.

A humanoid robot may have better balance and greater capacity to make its way through a difficult landscape.

Japan’s DARPA entries, including finalist JAXON, which is named for singer Michael Jackson, showed up in new and improved versions at Japan’s recent international robotics show. They use sensors to identify safe places to set their feet and the height of ceilings, so that they can move through torn up terrains and move debris to allow human rescuers safer access.

Increased problem solving ability is an essential, along with bodies that work better in human-friendly settings, but disaster response robots will continue to need servo motors. Being able to program responses to data from sensors is a strength for servos that will be a strength for disaster response robots as well.

If you’re using electric Rexroth motion control for any purpose, we can help you with any disaster you might encounter. Put our phone number in your phone now so you’ll be ready, no matter what happens.

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