At present robots cannot do much in terms of rescue on their own. But, I believe there is a whole range of robots that enable disaster rescue missions over the next ten years. In fact, one of the key themes of this year’s XPrize is that:
The conventional methods used for disaster management is pretty time-consuming as well as dangerous. In some highly crucial moments of the disaster management, the lives of the rescuers are also at stake along with the trapped ones.
Innovators have been working to find a solution to this problem for some time now. And, having autonomous robots has been one of the ideas that has been thought of to provide swift and much safer alternatives.
- Autonomous pods that can be sent through a pipe – disengage from the pipe, move around a cave and come back up with a human inside. Sort of an advanced version of the Chilean mining rescue.
- Autonomous/tethered submarines that can pull people through floods without worrying about oxygen masks and Scuba training. Musk has already built one in a short time and those designs can be improved upon.
- Autonomous airboats that can move through a flooded urban street and extend arms that can pull out people stuck in the floods.
- Autonomous stretchers that can move through a disaster zone, help get injured people on it, offer oxygen mask, provide first aid [either autonomously or remote controlled] while the stretcher is brought out to safety.
- Fireproof pods that can get through burning buildings, get people onto them and drive them out of the building.
- Drones — both flying and swimming — can move packages [food, medical kits] to survivors during the rescue stage.
- Sensor powered robots can prove to be more useful in searching victims during a highly complex rescue operation.