Robots may help in urban emergencies

Robots developed for a competition may have search and rescue applications during disasters

Robots may help in urban emergencies
Robots may help in urban emergencies

March 29, 2011

Robotic specialist Strategic Engineering has created a team of autonomous ground vehicles capable of collaboratively exploring and mapping an urban environment while detecting and neutralising threats.

Entered in a Defence Force competition, the robots are designed to accomplish tasks without human control or intervention.

The Multi Autonomous Ground-robotic International Challenge (MAGIC 2010), is sponsored by the Australian and US Departments of Defence.

"The competition was designed to attract innovative proposals from worldwide research organisations developing next-generation systems that can be deployed in military operations and civilian situations," says Strategic Engineering’s David Burges.

"Competitors had to submit a proposal demonstrating the use of multi-vehicle robotic teams that can execute an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission in a dynamic urban environment.

"Shortlisted competitors fielded cooperatives of unmanned vehicles able to autonomously and dynamically coordinate, plan and carry out tasks against changing priorities."

The whole project took Strategic Engineering over 9 months to complete, from November 2009 through to July 2010.

"We entered the competition mainly to challenge ourselves," Burges says.

"The project allowed us to further develop our capabilities in complex vision systems and system integration.

"It has also opened up opportunities in the Defence industry," Burgess says.

With 23 teams entering the competition, Strategic Engineering got into in the final ten and competed in the semi-finals.

Since the challenge, Strategic Engineering has been chosen by Defence to participate in the Rapid Prototype Development and Evaluation program, which focuses on accelerating capability change within the Australian Defence Force.

"We are excited about being involved," Burges says.

"These types of challenges are always great for really pushing the boundaries and thinking differently.

"The competition was an ideal project for us to take on, and we have really developed our skills in the complex vision systems area, Burgess says.

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