Lifesaver made of silicon and steel

Robots in disaster response

Scorpion Kirchner / Uni Bremen
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They look like spiders, scorpions or snakes. They crawl, roll and stumble across the rubble of collapsed houses, check niches and tunnels, squeeze into cracks between fallen concrete slabs - looking for survivors after earthquakes or explosions. Smaller than detection dogs and without fear of danger: Robots save lives.

Discover a victim, use the alarm to send the exact position data and collect information for the rescue. Is the victim still alive? How safe is the environment for the rescue workers? And how do you get to the injured person most quickly?

It may sound more like a research team from the Starship Enterprise, but such high-tech helpers were already in use at the 2001 World Trade Center, the Iran earthquake in 2002, and the 2005 flood of Hurricane Kathrina. Especially in the US, since the Oklahoma bomb attack in 1999, robots have been researching intensively to detect and rescue disaster victims. While the first robots were used to defuse bombs and mines, they should now even provide first aid to those who are buried.

But how do robots find their own way to the injured? Can they actually perceive objects and choose a path? What help do the machines offer to people in need?

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Daniel Goliasch
Stand: 10.03.2006 Display