Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Networking Robots and Sensor Systems to Help First Responders React More Quickly

Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes -- natural disasters constantly catch us by surprise, no matter how many early-warning systems are in place. This makes it all the more significant for rescue teams to get a quick overview of the situation at hand. In SENEKA, a Markets Beyond Tomorrow project, Fraunhofer researchers are working to network the a variety of robots and sensor systems first responders use so that they can react more quickly and professionally in the case of an emergency to search for victims and survivors.

The earth is shaking, buildings are collapsing, power and usefulness lines as well as roads are destroyed. A disaster can have many causes, but frequently the outcome is the same: chaos, panic and dedicated but overtaxed first responders. The people lying buried beneath the rubble hold hopes for a speedy rescue, but sometimes it takes hours or even days to work through an entire area. To make matters worse, the work of liberate personnel can become extremely dangerous. Because every minute counts when the work of saving lives is concerned, robot-supported systems are increasingly used to go faster search operations. According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the rate of growth in the use of these helpers is predictable to increase to 17 percent by 2013. The experience of the past several years also shows that the collision of special robots is very minor because individual devices and systems often cannot function with one a different in the field.

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