The task of a robot for urban search and rescue is to enter a disaster site, e.g. after an earthquake or landslide, search for survivors and map the site for the human rescuers to follow. This is a very challenging problem for robotics because it requires improvements in sensing, locomotion, navigation, decision making and learning.
CAS is working with the NSW Fire Brigade to develop practical uses of robots in real rescue situations. We also participate in the Rescue Robot competition. Teams from around the world compete in an artificially constructed arena, where they try to find as many "victims" (mannequins that move, emit heat and carbon dioxide and sometimes even make sounds, of the pre-recorded tape variety) as they can using a robot while also producing a map of the arena.
This project is part of the the ARC Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems (CAS) and is done in collaboration with the UTS node of CAS. The main contributors from UNSW are Adam Milstein, Matt McGill, Tim Wiley, Rudi Salleh and past contributors Waleed Kadous, Raymond Sheh.
Kadous, M. W., Sheh, R. K.-M. and Sammut, C. (2005). CASTER: A Robot for Urban Search and Rescue. In Claude Sammut (Ed.), Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation (10 pages). Sydney: Australian Robotics and Automation Association.
Kadous, M. W., Sheh, R. and Sammut, C. (2006). Controlling Heterogeneous Semi-autonomous Rescue Robot Teams. In 2006 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetic. Taipei.
Kadous, W., Sheh, R. and Sammut, C. (2006). Effective User Interface Design for Rescue Robotics. In Human-Robot Interaction. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Kadous, W., Claude Sammut and Sheh, R. (2006). Autonomous Traversal of Rough Terrain Using Behavioural Cloning. In The 3rd International Conference on Autonomous Robots and Agents.
Sheh, R., Jamali, N., Kadous, M. W. and Sammut, C. (2006). A Low-Cost, Compact, Lightweight 3D Range Sensor. In B. MacDonald (Ed.), Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation 2006. Auckland: Australian Association for Robotics and Automation.
Sheh, R., Milstein, A., McGill, M., Saleh, R., Hengst, B., and Sammut, C. (2009). Semi-autonomous robots for robocup rescue. In Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation.