These Robots For Rescue Operations Amidst Disasters

Robin Murphy builds robots that can assist rescue responders in ways dogs and animals can't.
Jessica Miley

Disaster robots make disasters go away faster. That’s the motto of Robin Murphy, the director of Texas A&M’s Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue. Murphy and her team of engineers became inspired to build disaster robots after witnessing the Oklahoma bombing in 1995. 

Murphy and her team design land, air and sea robots that help search and rescue professionals do their job better by going places they can't. The robots can provide crucial information to help experts make good decisions to keep both potential survivors and responders safe. 

The robots are built to survive the unpredictable conditions of a disaster site. They assist rescuers to locate survivors of disasters quickly and provide crucial information for managing the disaster zone. 

Every year, more than one million lives are claimed by natural disasters. Millions more are displaced, Murphy and her robots hope to be able to reduce these numbers and help communities recover as fast as possible. Murphy tests the robots at a place called Disaster City, it is a site designed to train search and rescue teams on how to manage different potential disasters. 

It’s also perfect robot testing grounds. So far, Murphy’s lab has supplied robots for 28 disasters ranging from earthquakes, hurricanes, nuclear accidents. Murphy says, the biggest challenge to disaster response is not being able to build the robots but the physiological and psychological impact going to the face of disasters can cause.