RoboCup Rescue is a new effort to promote research and development in the field of rescue robotics. Robots for search and rescue missions, the efficient co-ordination of rescue services or decision-support systems are all the practical result of rescue robotics research. Two RoboCup leagues give an insight into digitally supported rescue possibilities: Rescue Simulation and Real Rescue.
Rescue Robot at RoboCup 2009. Photo: TU Graz
Rescue Simulation League
The Simulation League is principally an international testing ground for simulating robots which carry out search and rescue operations in urban environments. Intelligent “agents” have to solve various search and rescue tasks in virtual catastrophe worlds.
The research aim is to give valuable decision support in emergencies by integrating disaster information and prediction, detailed planning and thinking in human rescue teams.
The background research is carried out at a strong interdisciplinary level; for instance, the strategic and team-oriented behaviour of simulated helpers proves to be a difficult challenge when several research areas are involved.
Real Rescue League
The idea behind the Real Rescue League is to deploy semi-autonomous search and rescue robots in a life-threatening environment after a natural disaster. Heat, dust and collapsed buildings make a rescue mission using humans or animals too dangerous.
The rescue robots are meant to gather information which serves the emergency task force as a basis for making decisions.
The RoboCup event in this league can be described as follows: A team of several autonomous robots moves around in a specially built test environment which is divided into areas with differing grades of difficulty. They “search” out victim dummies, put together a map of the environment, and send information to their human operators.
More info on Robocup 2009 at http://www.robocup2009.org