New in Rescue Robots: Survivor Buddy

Rescue robots serve as a trapped disaster victim’s lifeline to the outside world.

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Also, “most robots now are painted black and have bright head lights,” she said. This is disconcerting when “you come in the dark at people and blind them; what’s more, you can’t always see the robots in the dark,” she said.  “Those are the things we want to avoid.  We hope to make it colorful and backlit and turn the headlights down a little bit.”

The scientists will be testing the device in simulated rescue situations using actual people within scenarios as close as possible to the real thing, “without endangering anyone,” Murphy said. “You can make people feel they are in a collapse by putting them in a dark room, covering them with a blanket, etc.”

Previous testing on earlier robots, which prompted the “creep factor” finding, convinced the researchers they needed to make modifications if the rescue robots were to be effective. 

“People who were well-fed and well-rested and just in there for an hour were showing significant reactions to the robot,” Murphy said. “Imagine if you are already disoriented, or in a lot of pain or fear.  The impact will be even more significant. It shows you how important it is to get it right.”

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