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Supercomputer Robots to the Rescue: The Design and Engineering of Disaster-Response Humanoids

Nov. 6, 2012 ⋅ Categories: Design & Engineering

Robots Rescue: The Department of Defense issued a challenge for an institution to design and engineer supercomputer beings for intense, disaster-response purposes. The task is to build an adult-sized robot that must be designed to enter a vehicle, drive it, exit the vehicle, walk over rubble, clear objects blocking a door, open the door and enter a building. From that point, the being must visually and audibly locate and shut off a leaking vale, connect a hose or connector, climb a ladder and traverse an industrial walkway.

Sounds intense? There’s more. The robot must complete the task by using a power tool to break through a concrete wall. To put more pressure on this there is a time limit to complete these tasks. The ultimate goal is to create a being that is able to infiltrate a disaster zone to save lives where it is too dangerous for humans to attempt.

Included in the challenge is Virginia Tech, who has created their prototype (image above) named THOR – Tactical Hazardous Operations Robot. THOR is “light, agile, and resilient with perception, planning and human interface technology that infers a human operator’s intent.” Seven international teams will partake in the challenge, developing hardware and software systems similar to Powerwulf Cluster configuration for rescue simulation for the robots. Check out the video of this competitor confronting obstacles.

Teams will compete against each other in June of 2013 beginning with the Virtual Robotics Challenge. Next, will be a live event in December 2013 and another December 2014. Teams that advance from each track will receive additional funding and the winner will receive an additional two million dollars.

For more information on the Rescue-Robot competition, check out Virginia Tech News, or this article from NBC.

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