Examples of Rescue Robotics Changing Emergency Response Times
Efficiency is one of the leading drivers behind robotics adoption across all industries. In emergency response, efficiency is far more crucial, possibly being a matter of life and death, not only money. It should come as no surprise, then, that robots have had a long, successful history with emergency responders.
Robots have worked in emergency services for decades, and they’re only becoming more prevalent. Here are five leading examples of these machines improving first responders’ response times.
Perhaps no other rescue robot has seen as much remarkable service as Inuktun’s Delta Extreme. Originally called the VGTV Xtreme, this camera-equipped crawler searched through rubble after Hurricane Katrina and, before then, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Emergency responders use crawlers like the Delta to search areas that may be too dangerous for humans. Covering 90 feet per second and fitting where people can’t, these bots can see if there are any survivors in an area before rescuers go in. That way, they can locate victims faster and not risk responders’ lives investigating potentially empty places.
Sarcos’s Guardian S is a visual inspection bot like the Delta, but it uses snake-like movement to maneuver through the rubble. This unusual mobility helps it fit where other bots may not and navigate around debris. The Guardian S also features two-way voice communication, letting responders talk to any survivors they find.
Some teams use the Guardian S to send data to control centers to help inform their decisions. While it’s too small to deliver supplies or save victims itself, it speeds up the information-gathering process. It gives first responders informative, real-time data so they can act faster.
In some parts of the world, delivering supplies is far from easy. It can take hours, if not days, to reach some remote locations, which can lead to disastrous results. That’s why a startup called Zipline started making autonomous aircraft to deliver medical supplies.
The drones, called Zips, can fly 150 kilometers on a single charge and do so much faster than a commercial drone. Zipline first put them to the test in Rwanda, delivering blood, plasma and other supplies to remote hospitals. Since they drop off their payloads via parachute, there’s no need to land or slow to get lifesaving resources to those who need them.
Firefighters often need to approach fires to extinguish them, but sometimes, this can put them at risk. Firefighting robots like Howe and Howe’s Thermite RS2-T2 provide a solution. The RS2-T2 features a powerful hose, treads and heat shielding, allowing it to get close to burns that could be too dangerous for firefighters.
Fire trucks typically pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute, and the RS2-T2 surpasses that standard. This power lets firefighters extinguish fires quickly and safely, taking care of situations before they take a turn for the worse.
Maritime rescues can be challenging, as responders don’t know what hazards could lie in wait underwater. The Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard, or EMILY, is a robotic lifeguard that solves that issue. EMILY can scan for underwater debris, helping rescue teams navigate.
EMILY can also pick up and carry stranded victims to safety when human lifeguards can’t reach them. This aquatic drone was in development for 18 years, initially meant to monitor whales, but now sees service worldwide.
Robots Can Make the World a Safer Place
Some people fear the concept of robots, perhaps concerned about job losses or potential sci-fi-inspired uprisings. Despite these qualms, robots have become essential workers in today’s society. While most companies use them to save time and money, some can save lives.
Emergency services have relied on robots since the early 2000s, and this trend isn’t slowing. As technology advances, robotics can increasingly help first responders. Before long, it could be rare to see an emergency response that doesn’t involve robots.
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