Microsoft Kinect-Powered Robot to Aid Earthquake Rescue

A team of engineers at the UK-based University of Warwick are giving new meaning to Xbox technology. Now revolutionizing the gaming system made by Microsoft, the Kinect technology is being tested in disaster aid situations. The purpose of this new technology? To go where humans can’t in the aftermath of natural disaster, such as when an earthquake leaves collapsed buildings in its wake.

The university engineers have been developing a robot capable of entering unstable buildings and searching for any signs of survival. The team’s motion-detection device accurately models its surroundings and even identifies where survivors may be.

“The whole idea is to protect the lives of the rescuers,” said Peter Crook, mechanical engineer on the project, as quoted in a BBC News article. “What you’d have is a team of maybe two people … and they’d set up outside. From a safe distance they’d drive the robot in and then use that robot to look for victims.”

After their revolutionary robot won first place last year at the European Robocup Rescue championship in Germany, the team set out to gather sponsorships for testing the robot in real-life situations.

By using Kinect rather than other similar laser technology, the team saves more than £2000 per robot. The robot is not only cheaper, but more technologically advanced than ever before.

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