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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Feb 28, 2011

This Kinect-Controlled Robot Could Help Save The Lives Of Earthquake Victims

Earlier this week in New Zealand, an earthquake claimed the lives of 100 people, leaving 200 missing. Local authorities attempted to traverse the rubble in search of the missing citizens, but they deemed some buildings too unsafe to enter. In hopes to aid the survivors, a dedicated team of British researchers created a Kinect-enabled robot that could help in such a situation.

Some engineers at U.K.’s University of Warwich have constructed a robot that uses the Kinect’s high-powered camera to scan disaster areas for signs of life, all at a cost that is far cheaper to that of complex search-and-rescue robots. The Kinect helps to identify places where any survivors could be located.

Using this new robot saves around £2000 in production costs, according to the research team. Most of the advanced search-and-rescue robots employ a laser-based radar that is not only expensive, but it only offers a planar view. This means that you only get a flat-line of how far away things are from you, where the Kinect robot works in three dimensions.

Peter Crook, a mechanical engineer in the project stated that, “It’s not really designed to bring people who are stuck there out, but it would mean that the rescue services know where they are, and would be able to get to them much more effectively than maybe looking through a whole building which may be empty.”

The researchers’ robot won first place at a very important European robotics competition. Even with all the notoriety and funding, the robot still sits in the U.K. for now.

Hopefully the team can get their creation to where it’s needed as soon as possible.

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