Robot Responders

With the options available to robotics advancing rapidly, MIT offered some hints and discussions of their developments, and their potential applications to the future of disaster response.

Drawing less energy than a microwave, showing high degrees of flexibility, able to reach top speeds of 30 mph, and capable of responding to voice commands, the Cheetah 3 represents the cutting edge of robotics. Developed at MIT by Professor Sangbae Kim and his team, Kim envisions the robot as eventually being deployable under conditions that could be fatal to humans. Says Kim, "They haven't been able to send anything that can actually do physical work like closing valves or removing debris. Many power plants, where radiation level is high enough, that we don't want to send a human."

The Cheetah 3 isn’t the only development coming from MIT.  MIT post-doctoral associate Rob MacCurdy is developing robots capable of being produced by 3D printers.  Says MacCurdy, "I'm imagining robots like this that are expendable/  So, maybe they go down in some really dangerous place, or a really contaminated place, do some job, they go down and grab something and move it from one point to another. And then the robot is disposable."