Dartmouth researchers, led by DMS plastic surgeon Joseph Rosen, M.D., and undergrad Jacob Jurmain (now a Thayer engineering student), are designing a rugged, easy-to-operate, remote-controlled robot that will be able to handle hazardous materials clean-up in disaster situations. Although robots are already used in war zones--to neutralize roadside bombs, examine suspicious vehicles, find snipers, evaluate danger zones, and even sample and collect hazardous materials--it takes a long time for someone to learn to operate them. And that can be a problem in emergency situations when trained operators are not on hand.
The researchers built the HazBot prototype out of existing components--the PackBot Explosive Ordinance Disposal manipulator robot made by iRobot Corp., and Mantis, a control device made by Mimic Technologies. Then they modified and integrated software to come up with a two-part control system--a console and a thimble-size device--that is easy for anyone to master. When the operator moves his or her hand, the robot arm mimics the motion. For more on this research, read The little robot that could.
To watch a video Q&A with Rosen, click here.
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