Friday Gadget: Disaster Relief Quadcopter Robot

Earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones — disasters like these make a normally natural environment hard to navigate and dangerous for human search-and-rescue teams.

However, there is a growing number of robot rescue devices being created to help those search-and-rescu teams.

For example, a team of researchers led by Professor Andreas Mitschele at Germany’s Ilmenau University of Technology are developing flying quadcopter (an aircraft that is lifted and propelled by four rotors) robots that can be used to form an ad-hoc wireless network during the post disaster time when communications are critical.  

Built with off-the-shelf parts (including VIA’s Pico-ITX hardware and a GPS unit) the robots are designed to provide both mobile phone and WiFi access.   Since the robots can be deployed quickly, a network can be established far more quickly than a technician on the ground might be able to.   The robots are dropped off at a disaster area, take off, create a self-organizing mesh network, and locate landing spots to afford maximum coverage.   The current prototype robot has only a 20 minute flying time but can power the communications gear much longer after landing.

For more info see the research poster (pdf file) or the video of the Quadrocopter robot (mp4)