July 18, 2005
Researchers Simulate Urban Rescue Environment at RoboCup 2005 in Osaka, Japan
As the July 7 bombings in London have so devastatingly illustrated, disaster relief is an arduous task, one that is carried out mainly by humans (and trained dogs), communicating face-to-face or by phones and walkie-talkies. Robots may provide limited support for search and rescue activities and are typically remotely operated by a separate team of humans, but such robots can be difficult to control.
To help robots become more helpful to humans during rescue operations, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University have developed virtual hazardous environments that they are demonstrating at the International RoboCup Federation's RoboCup 2005 competition at the INTEX Exhibition Center in Osaka, Japan, through July 19. The goal of the annual RoboCup competitions, which have been in existence since 1997, is to produce a team of soccer-playing robots that can beat the human world champion soccer team by the year 2050. As part of that program, teams of robots also compete in a search-and-rescue category.
Based on the Unreal game engine, the Pitt simulation provides realistic graphics and accurate physics to duplicate the problems and challenges faced by operators of real search and rescue robots. The operator's interface and overhead views of the arena will be displayed next to an immersive cave where the audience can follow the robots as they search for victims.
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