Natural disasters are a part of life on all continents. Natural disasters, such as floods earthquakes and wildfires cause thousands of casualties every year all over the world. Although conventional search and rescue help to save significant numbers of survivors, today’s advancing technology has given these techniques an immense boost with the refined and highly advanced search and rescue robots.

More about Search and Rescue Robots

Advanced artificial intelligence technology has made today’s rescue robots smarter and increased their efficiency multifold. Although this is a relatively new field of technological research, it has applications for numerous disastrous situations. The current generation of disaster robots is able to make the operations of first-response units in case of urban disasters more efficient. These robots are an effective tool to be used for safely inspecting collapsed buildings and structures, comprehensively assess the situation and finding the victims faster.

Today, these robots are finding increasing use in cities, in the event of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, or a bombing, gas explosions and other manmade disasters. They are also helpful in assessing road accident sites involving hazardous materials.

Potential of Search and Rescue Robots in Disaster Management

Advanced artificial intelligence combined with increasingly refined robotics technology is now empowering search and rescue missions worldwide. The first highly reported* use of ultramodern search and rescue robots was to search for survivors under the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers in the World Trade Center attack in New York on September 11th, 2001. Later on, drone and robots were used in search and salvage missions in 2011 in Japan, when the tsunami disaster damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. These rescue robots have been effective is searching and locating victims in the disastrous earthquakes in Haiti in 2010, and again in Nepal in 2015. The Center for Robot-Assisted Search & Rescue (CRASAR), based in Texas, reports over 50 major instances till date when robots were deployed in search and rescue operations, worldwide.

The Future of Disaster Robotics

Disaster robotics is the term used to define everything relating to the design, development, and application of artificial intelligence and advanced aerial, terrestrial and marine robots to assist with search and rescue missions in all types of environments and situations.

The technology has overcome significant challenges in engineering and scientific aspects to arrive at this impressive level of efficiency and effectiveness. The integration of artificial intelligence allows today’s ultramodern rescue robots to make faster decisions after quick analysis and assessment, without the lag from the operator’s side.

How Robotics is Transforming Search and Rescue

The current stage of advancement in robot technology allows increased use of robots in wide-scale search and rescue (SAR) operations. Today’s highly advanced rescue robots are not only making operations more efficient for SAR authorities but are also effective in cutting costs significantly.

As time is of the essence in search and rescue missions, these machines are most helpful in reducing the amount of time needed to deploy effective search and save missions. Apart from this, the advanced AI technology integrated into today’s rescue bots provides operators with a plethora of information about the situation.

These are some of the ways that artificial intelligence-powered rescue robots are transforming conventional search and rescue operations globally:

1 Mapping – Aerial drones help to explore and map a disaster area faster and with better efficiency.

2 Firefighting – Durable and efficient robots are deployed for effectively fighting not only urban fires, such as in buildings and skyscrapers, but also to fight rampant forest fires in the woods.

3 Bomb Disposal – Robots have been used for detecting, diffusing and disposing of bomb threats effectively for a long time now.

4 Remarkable Rescue – Through the integration of more advanced artificial intelligence, now search and rescue robots are able to detect signs of life, such as heartbeat and breathing of victims, in disastrous conditions.

5 Disaster Relief – Aerial drones are increasingly being used to provide essential items (food, water, medicines, etc.) to people stuck in disaster areas.

Applications of Search and Rescue Robots

The search and rescue robots are being increasingly deployed in all types of weather and terrain, for efficient and successful rescue or salvage missions.

Land Rescue Missions

Rescue robots are increasingly being refined to be more efficient and agile than humans, physically, to be able to perform search and rescue operations on land in a better way. Numerous companies have reported working on making bipedal robots that are capable of traversing over difficult terrain easily.

However, smaller robots have been highly effective for use in restricted spaces. These are able to access areas too small for humans, such as gaps between rubble, underground tunnels, etc.

Water Rescue Missions

Water is one of the two places where advanced search and rescue robots have shown immense application and even more potential for use in the future. Water is not suitable for efficient maneuvering by humans alone, and this is where rescue robots come handy.

Air Rescue Missions

The increasingly improving UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology is showing remarkable enhancement in handling efficient air rescue missions. The previously military technology has found a peaceful use in search and rescue operations. Several adaptations, such as thermal imaging, object recognition, lidar mapping, etc., allow today’s air-based rescue robots and drones to efficiently search and locate victims from the sky.

In light of the above information, it is safe to estimate that the increased improvement in artificial intelligence and robotics is set to enhance SAR operations remarkably. It is the time that rescue authorities and disaster management companies ensure to integrate rescue robots in their equipment list.