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Posted: May 03, 2013

Robots gave hands to disaster relief workers in Lushan County after earthquake

(Nanowerk News) A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Lushan County, Sichuan Province at 8:02 a.m. April 20th, 2013.
The first batch of three researchers from Shenyang Institute of Automation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (SIA) landed in Chengdu at 1:44 a.m. on April 21st, and arrived at the epicenter in Lushan County at 1:30 p.m. The second and the third batch of eight researchers gathered with the first team on April 22nd.
But they were not alone.
Three types of robots, named rotorcraft UAVs (unmanned aircraft vehicles), transformable ruins search and rescue robot, and robotic life-detector, also landed in the quake-hit area with the researchers. This is their first application in an earthquake rescue and relief mission. The robots were jointly developed by the State Key Laboratory of Robotics and the National Earthquake Response Support Service.
With a high-definition camera, the rotorcraft UAVs is able to capture aerial images of quake-hit regions and send them instantaneously to the relief departments.The providing images and data assists the decision making of the rescue group. The transformable ruins search and rescue robot, and robotic life-detector, work on the earth. According to task demand, the two types of robot can enter ruins carrying modular payloads, to detect survivor trapped in the ruins and locate their actual positions.
The rotorcraft UAVs system performed its first task in the morning of April 22nd in Lushan County. Through visible payload, the flying robot sent back videos of road blockage situation from Lushan County to Baoxing County to the relief department, playing an important part in alleviating traffic congestion of the relief vehicles on the road. In the afternoon, the researchers continued searching and rescuing in Longmen Township, a severely damaged area in Lushan County. In Gucheng Village of the township, the rotorcraft UAVs performed ultra-low altitude and closely flew along the dangerous buildings of three to five stories to detect the trace of survivors. Then, the flying robot captured high-definition images of the village through ultra-low altitude flying remote sensing.
In April 23rd, the rotorcraft UAVs detected over thirty severely ruined buildings in Hongxing Village through back and forth low altitude flying, and sent back images to relief departments. In Qingren Township and Qingyuan Township of Lushan County, the flying robot captured images and videos of damaged areas and helped the relief workers analyze the environment and confirm that there was no survivors left behind.
Meanwhile, the transformable ruins search and rescue robot, and robotic life-detector assisted the relief workers in searching for survivors in dangerous buildings. Carrying infrared camera and audio sensor, the transformable ruins search and rescue robot can enter ruins and send back the inside information to the control platform, so that the safety of relief workers can be guaranteed even when after shock happens. The robot is also able to perform life-searching task in narrow passage where human beings cannot enter.
These disaster relief robots accelerated the search and rescue process, and lower the consumption of man force during the mission. Their work also paved roads for follow-up rescue work and the reconstruction of the hit regions.
Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences
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