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Humanoid Robots

The TU Delft develops rescue robots with swarm intelligence

The Zebro stands out due to its modular structure, off-road capability and low manufacturing costs. However, its main attraction is its software with which the robots can independently organize themselves into swarms.

30 Oct. 2017
Source: TU Delft
Source: TU Delft

The Zebro can also operate safely in rugged terrain on its six crescent-shaped legs. The tiny robot is fitted with audio sensors and software that allows it to link up with a swarm of conspecifics. One possible scenario for use envisioned by its developers is to search for people buried under rubble in earthquake regions. Human search and rescue teams would be putting themselves at great risk in such cases due to the constant danger of aftershocks. If one of the Zebros involved in the rescue attempt finds a victim, it passes this information on to the nearest conspecific which, in turn, informs other Zebros via a self-organizing information network. Human search and rescue teams are then able to track this information trail and rescue the victim.

Research on the use of robots in disaster areas has already been underway for years. The Honda research department already introduced the prototype of a humanoid rescue robot in early October. Unlike the Zebro, the Disaster Response Robot developed by Honda could even be actively involved in the rescue of trapped persons. A combination of the technologies would be conceivable in situations where it is considered too dangerous to send in human search and rescue teams. Other projects, for example, the US military, are, however, also experimenting with the logic of swarm intelligence. These are mainly concerned with the advantage of the self-linking Perdix drone swarms still being able to operate smoothly after the failure of an individual device.