Natural disasters can strike anywhere, anytime. But people are always thinking up new and innovative ways to provide relief when catastrophes occur. The recent earthquake in Nepal has highlighted this through crowdsourcing data (check out our previous post), and more recently through the application of NASA technology to find people trapped under rubble.
The search-and-rescue technology called FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response) can detect heartbeats “under 30 feet of rubble, 20 feet of solid concrete and from a distance of 100 feet in open spaces,” according to NASA. This was the first time that FINDER was used in a real life situation and was able to save four men trapped less than 10 feet of rubble.
The students of Brac University have invented a ‘Rescue Robot’ which helps victims during natural or man-made disasters. It’s really an innovative device that should be supported and helped them to research further for improving the technology.
The “Rescue Robot” can crawl through the debris of earthquakes and landslides, and detect life using carbon dioxide sensors and thermal camera at a minimum cost. It can provide a simpler, cheaper and more reliable way to track victims who are alive and can rescue them. One robot is able to carry one man at a time.
Shadman Sakib Chowdhury and Mehbas Fairuz Nawal, students of Brac University, have invented the unique machine. The young inventors said the deaths of over 1,000 people in the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013 shocked them a lot. Since then, they had been trying to find an easier solution for disaster rescue efforts because several people died while trying to pull out the people trapped under the rubble.
Mehbas said it was their dream project, and project director Khalilur Rahman, also a teacher of computer science and engineering at the university, inspired them to make it a reality. “Rescuing people after a massive disaster like Rana Plaza is a tough task. At that time, if we had this instrument, we could have saved more lives. Unfortunately, even rescuers died in the efforts,” said Shadman Sakib, an 11th semester student of electrical and electronic engineering.
He said the real-time audio and video transmitted from the robot to to LCD TV via radio frequency is processed by a person controlling its motion; thereby an appropriate conclusion is reached regarding the presence of life. Hence, processing and transmission costs of real-time data is reduced. The sensor triggers a buzzer as the CO2 level in its vicinity reaches a set threshold value to indicate the presence of a human being nearby.
The robot can also monitor audio-video inputs with an FPV camera and a connected torch. A remote control propels the robot and communication is done through NRF beacons. Project director Khalilur Rahman said that Brac University is ready to supply such robots at times of disaster. He said, “The robot now costs Tk15,000. But we are trying to reduce the cost for the greater interest of the country.”