Rescue Robots

Google’s Alphabet has given up on rescue robots after five years of effort. They bought a bunch of robotics firms to begin this effort, and have sold off Boston Robotics and will be “winding down” Schaft. These two DARPUR-winning teams were among Alphabet’s acquisitions, along with companies that had strengths in specific robot abilities like vision, precise movement, and the like.

Rescuing people is one of the most desired robot tasks, but it offers a lot of challenges. Robots have trouble moving on uneven terrain. They can be stumped by doorknobs. They have trouble recognizing things with varied shapes and sizes, such as human beings and body parts.

Give a robot a human foot pushing through rubble and they generally don’t know what to do.

Google’s AI capacity is impressive and increasing, but rescue robots may not be practical yet. Or at least not cost-effective.

Worth continuing

It might not be worth Alphabet’s time or money to continue working on rescue robots, but it’s probably worth the effort for humanity in general. The number of deaths from natural disasters is increasing steadily as the number of natural disasters increases along with climate change. Human rescue workers die in these catastrophes as well. Rescue work would be a perfect job for robots.

Small robots have been used for over a decade to find people in need of rescue. With cameras or carbon dioxide sensors to recognize people who are still breathing, these robots can find people in spaces that are hard for humans to reach. Then human rescue workers can figure out a way to reach and rescue the trapped people.

Drones can search for lost hikers and climbers over a large area. Water rescue robots can pair up with drones to perform actual rescues in case of shipwreck. They can even assist lifeguards.


Do you need a rescue from a Rexroth motion control disaster? Even if it’s not as bad as an earthquake, it’s very important to you. Call us immediately for assistance.


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