ideasInnovo Engineering

3.0: Search & Rescue Robotics—Overview


From: Project Manager
To: Engineering Intern Team
Subject: Building the search and rescue robot


Now for the fun assignment!  I think you have the background you need to work directly on Innovo’s contract with the national rescue squad to design, build and test the performance of a robot that the rescue squad can use.  You’ll remember from the original briefing that the robot will need to navigate through rubble to locate people trapped in collapsed buildings and determine their status.  The robot will need to either help lift or move pieces of rubble, or deliver small needed items until the rescue workers can get to them.  The Robot Challenge Description (doc) describes some of the Engineering considerations in this complex task.

After examining a number of options, Innovo has partnered with Carnegie-Mellon University’s robotics institute to use the Telepresence Robotics Kit (TeRK) as a starting model.   We wanted to build on solid work already done – and you’ll have plenty of design work to do to customize this model.  I suggest that you have a look at notes from a NASA workshop on using technologies for search and rescue, and disaster assistance situations.  This will help you understand some of the needs and the Engineering challenges --

Also, I think you should arrange for a meeting with one or two of our experts within Innovo to brainstorm how you might add some capabilities to your robot so it can perform search and rescue operations more effectively.   I don’t need to tell you about the importance of documentation to capture the ideas from your discussion.  The kinds of questions and ideas your team should brainstorm:

  • What types of technologies are useful in search and rescue challenges, and what features seem most useful?
  • What benefits and limitations do robots have in disaster assistance?
  • Ideas on how you could build and design two complementary robots that could cooperate to complete the mission successfully
  • Initial planning for added robot capabilities

I’d like to see the team’s notes from your brainstorming session, so record the highlights. Also, do notes in your individual Engineering Logbook, so you will be able to refer to them later. Check out the Resources for important information on brainstorming and project management.

Good luck!

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“A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. [The First Law of Robotics]”(Isaac Asimov , 1920-1992)