Engineers create disaster area robot

A team of final-year students at Warwick are building a robot that will be able to search for survivors in a disaster zone.

The eight Engineering students are hoping to win “Best in Class for Mobility” at the European RoboCup Rescue, a competition that tests robots’ search and rescue abilities in a simulated disaster environment. They will also explore how the technology can be used in a real-life scenario.

The competition, organised by the European Robotics Research Network, involves more than 30 teams from around the world. The ERRN says it seeks to develop “complete and effective robotic systems that can be deployed to save lives”.

Warwick’s team includes mechanical engineers Timothy Fletcher, Reuben Williams, Alex Bunn and Julian Faulkner. There are two electronic engineers, Oliver Vogel and Stefan Winkvist, and two systems engineers, Matthew Rooke and James Williams.

Sponsorship co-ordinator for the team, Oliver Vogel, said, “This challenge presents some really exciting opportunities for a range of organisations and businesses to use and support the technology we are developing.”

The project, which requires students to raise sponsorship of £20,000, forms part of the final year of the MEng course at the University.

Each robot must find simulated victims in an arena, and is judged on its mobility, sensory perception, planning, mapping and operating interface. As the competitors advance, their robots face increasingly difficult terrain as the arenas act as “a stepping-stone from the laboratory to the real world”.

Professor Ken Young, Director of the Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre at the University of Warwick, is in charge of the robotics project at the University of Warwick. He said, “The RoboCup Rescue is a great opportunity for our students to find out what it takes to get an idea developed into a working prototype. We have a very talented team of engineers this year and I am sure they will do well.”


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