Robotic material transport in disaster scenarios

The aim of the project is to design and develop a partially automated, mobile assistance robot to support material transport through impassable terrain. The main areas of application are rescue operations in disaster scenarios, such as collapsed buildings, operations in impassable terrain, train or traffic accidents, and other major emergencies. The system to be developed should be able to follow a person through difficult terrain (gravel, obstacles, slopes), transport material needed for the rescue operation and react to the user's gestures, as well as provide feedback.

Duration: 01.09.2021 till 31.08.2025
Donee: German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH
Sponsor: Federal Agency for Technical Relief
Application Field: SAR- & Security Robotics
Related Robots: ASGUARD IV
Advanced Security Guard V4
DLR SpaceBot Cup 2013 Rover

Project details

Asguard IV with star wheels at the THW test site (Photo: Florian Cordes, DFKI)
Section of the THW training centre in Hoya (Photo: THW)
Artemis Rover at the THW test site (Photo: Malte Wirkus, DFKI)
The practical suitability of a mobile assistance robot is to be evaluated in a realistic application scenario. In this project, the assistance robot will be developed, built and equipped with corresponding control algorithms by the DFKI. For the evaluation, several consecutive field tests are planned at the THW training site in Hoya (see Figure 2), followed by evaluation and adaptation phases. Special emphasis will be placed on the robustness of the developed solutions. To this end, the field tests will be carried out with the involvement of experienced THW emergency personnel. The success of the project will be measured by the system's ability to maneuver at the THW test site in Hoya. There will be very close cooperation with THW personnel in the course of the developments.

In the future, the system will be used to support civil protection forces during operations in rubble and impassable terrain. The basic scenario is a rescue operation after a building collapse, for example after a gas explosion. This means for the arriving forces that, on the one hand, a good order of the area must be established (where are which vehicles brought into position) and, on the other hand, a situation assessment must be carried out quickly (What is the situation? What dangers are there? What measures are required? What equipment is required?). Afterwards, possibly buried persons have to be located. If there is a suspicion of buried persons, the rescue of people has top priority. The necessary materials and equipment are currently being brought by hand to the scene on the debris cone. The equipment required also includes heavy items such as hydraulic rescue equipment, which can weigh more than 25 kilograms. These materials are to be moved safely through the area of operation by the robot system developed here.

The findings from the scenario described above can also be transferred to other areas of non-police emergency response. For example, a robotic transport system can also be supportive in the field of mountain rescue, where extensive equipment also regularly has to be transported through impassable terrain. And the approach is also interesting for the mine rescue service, since here, too, impassable terrain, heavy equipment and strenuous activities (working under breathing protection) are part of the regular conditions.


ROMATRIS: (Partially) autonomous assistance robot for transporting materials in rough terrain

In the event of a disaster, every second counts. To save valuable time and increase the safety of emergency personnel, the DFKI Robotics Innovation Center is developing a (partially) autonomous assistance robot in close cooperation with the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW). The innovative robot is able to follow rescue workers through rough terrain and transport material weighing more than 100 kilograms over uneven terrain. It can react to the gestures of the emergency services and move independently back and forth between two points on a predefined route. The DFKI researchers successfully tested the first version of the system at the THW test and training center in Hoya. The robot transported a 120-kilogram generator, safely crossed railroad tracks and climbed a dike hill. Despite the darkness, it was able to recognize people and respond to their commands. The task now is to implement the feedback from the emergency services and further develop the system accordingly. Once the project has been completed, the robots will soon be put into practical use and help to train emergency services in the use of robotic systems and increase the acceptance of new technologies.

ARTEMIS: At the THW test site in Hoya

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last updated 04.01.2024
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