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. This project offers students the opportunity to work in any of these areas using state-of-the-art equipment made available through the ARC Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems (CAS).
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.