Remote Operated Vehicle Designed to Save Trapped Miners

A US government owned firm has come up with a scout robot that could be used by rescue teams to save miners. The scout robot has been developed using the Microsoft Xbox 360 game controller by Sandia National Laboratories.

Sandia's Gemini-Scout Mine Rescue Robot is equipped to handle any number of obstacles, including rubble piles and flooded rooms, to help rescuers reach trapped miners safely and efficiently. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

The robot can overcome the problems caused by poisonous gases, flooded tunnels, explosive vapors and unstable walls and roofs. In short the robot rescuer can go where the human rescuer cannot making it a valuable team member in rescue operations.

Jon Salton the project manager at Sandia National laboratories said that they had designed this robot to go in ahead of its handlers, to assess the situation and potential hazards and allow operations to move more quickly. The robot is guided by remote control and is equipped with gas sensors, a thermal camera to locate survivors and another pan-and-tilt camera mounted several feet up to see the obstacles they are facing.

The technology would be very helpful for other first responders, such as police, firefighters and medical personnel. Jon Salton added that the Gemini-Scout could easily be fitted to handle earthquake and fire scenarios, and they thought this could provide real relief in currently inaccessible situations.

Justin Garretson, the lead software developer said that they focused a lot on usability and copied a lot of gamer interfaces so that users can pick it up pretty quickly. The Gemini-Scout robot measures less than four feet long and two feet tall, and can navigate around tight corners and over safety hatches a foot high.

The Gemini Scout can navigate through 18 inches of water, crawl over boulders and rubble piles, and go ahead of rescuers to evaluate dangerous environments. The company said that it also housed the electronic circuits of the robot in a protective casing to ensure that it was shielded.

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