Robot from the Faculty of Information Technology can locate people under land slides and avalanches

Human lives in mountain avalanches, land slides or collapsed buildings can be soon saved by a new invention of the team of BUT scientists. The robotic platform functions without the assistance of a human factor present in the affected locality, which makes the device unique. The robot uses connection of the most modern technologies of sensor systems.

The invention was developed with guarantee by Doc. Ing. Martin Drahanský, Ph.D. and his research team of the Faculty of Information Technology of BUT. The robotic device reduces significantly the use of human force for locating people, and it is also designed as a multi-purpose device consisting of one integrated piece. Previously in surveys of complex terrain during the saving of human lives, it was necessary to use more technological pieces along with help from rescuers.

The structure of the invention has the form of a self-moving robot. The robot can have various types of detection units attached depending on the required function of the robot in specific terrain and climatic conditions. In the front part is a module for space and visual orientation, which includes a video camera, stereocameras and a LIDAR for finding information in the terrain in 3D. The above-mentioned module also helps to determine the distance of obstacles or compiles a visual three-dimensional map and thus enables locating and navigating the robot over terrain.

Other detection units which can be used in operation of the robot are modules of sensor systems, specialized thermo-cameras or auxiliary manipulators. These options make the robot multifunctional, and with the use of various modules of an auxiliary sensor system (GPS, compass, inertial measuring unit), the robot manages better orientation over terrain.

The following figure illustrates an example of the robot's arrangement.


1 – Modular structure
2 – Detection unit
3 – Case
4 – Bioradar
5 – GPS module
6 – Videocamera module
7 – Auxiliary manipulator
8 – LIDAR module
9 – Avalanche locator
10 – Box body
11 – Travel system


Figure: Arrangement of a modular system for robotic platforms

In order to ascertain position and state of the sought people, the robot contains a bioradar which can detect human vital signs at a distance of 5 metres with high precision. The scientists used a bioradar developed in cooperation with the RETIA, a.s. Company. It is not just an avalanche locator (in a passive or active form), which the missing person may have with them, which will help in searching. The robot enables the detection of signals from telecommunication networks; with the help of smart phones it can find the missing person thanks to a switched-on Bluetooth or WiFi signal.

The device is also unique in its structure. It consists of a box body through which a travel system driven by electromotor is attached. Auxiliary feeding sources can be attached to the robot so that the robot can also function in hard terrain conditions.

For the device named Robotic Platform to Search Persons in Rock Falls and Landslides, a utilitydesign was registered in 2014. The robot was completed within the frame of financial support of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic, Project VG20102014024.

The source of main photo: Sharada Prasad CS, Wikimedia Commons, 2014
The source of figure: Faculty of Information Technology of BUT Brno

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