Robots for Search and Rescue

Robots and drones can provide numerous benefits for law enforcement’s search and rescue response. They can often fit into places humans can’t, operate in environments humans can’t, and operate continuously without sleep. Some robots can even outperform humans in certain tasks; most importantly, they are replaceable. Robots can be sent to places that are too dangerous for law enforcement, which is often needed in disaster areas.

One major advantage quadruped robots currently bring to the table is their size. Small robots can be built to fit into places humans can’t. Robots can travel through small tunnels underground, pass through small gaps, or fit into tiny pockets of air beneath fallen buildings. The advancement in walking quadruped robots could eventually be a significant game changer. Not only could this system help find people, but they would also be able to carry them out of danger physically.

Natural disasters are steadily increasing around the world, with earthquakes, hurricanes, and flooding becoming greater and greater threats to our daily lives. After such disasters, the number one priority is often the search and rescue of survivors. In these situations, robots are proving to be highly effective supplements to human efforts. Quadruped robots, in combination with other types of robots like drones, are excellent tools for providing situational awareness, mapping debris, and helping provide context to areas where it was previously extremely difficult to do so. Time is critical in all search and rescue efforts, and these robots can accelerate these operations and ultimately save lives.

Search and rescue efforts can also be dangerous and are often focused in large, unpredictable, outdoor locations. For the same reasons quadruped robots are effective on construction sites; they excel at navigating these search and rescue environments. However, there are still some limitations to these robots. Their ability to detect and isolate objects in these environments still needs improvement; and issues of battery life limit their ability to remain in the field for extended periods of time. Still, you can be certain that engineers around the world are working at resolving these issues.

Some areas where robots can aid in Search & Rescue efforts:

  • Mapping and maneuvering of disaster areas after natural calamities, terror attacks, accidents, explosions, etc.
    • Time is of the essence in these kinds of situations; and advanced robotics are employed to map out areas that have been destroyed, giving rescuers an edge and improving the efficiency of their operations.
  • Robots are aiding firefighters worldwide.
    • Firefighters risk their lives every time they put on their suits and jump into a fire. With advances in technology, firefighters can get some much-needed help from machines that can withstand higher temperatures, move with agility and are unaffected by thick smoke or heavy flames.
  • Bomb squads are using AI to aid in defusal and disposal missions.
    • Robots used by bomb squads can ensure a safe and accident-free bomb defusal or disposal mission. Drones can go in and save the day with little risk of an accident. Typically, a remotely located bomb squad would use the robots to monitor surroundings, analyze data sent in and help machines with bomb disposal.
  • AI is being developed to detect signs of life, such as heart beats and breathing, of victims trapped in the aftermath of natural disasters.
    • When disaster occurs, it is critical to find victims as soon as possible; with every passing minute the chance of survival reduces. Survivors that are left unconscious under layers of rubble can slowly fade away as search and rescue teams try to locate them. Robots have helped detect signs of life much more quickly and thus saved many more lives.
  • Drones and robots are being used to distribute water, food, medicine, and other supplies
    • People stranded after an earthquake or hurricane or who are living in a warzone are often stuck for days without any food, water, or medicine. They are usually cut off from the world due to collapsed infrastructure, making it hard for them to receive necessities. AI technology can help deliver vital supplies to these victims much faster than most first responders.

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