Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sandia Labs’ Gemini-Scout robot likely to reach trapped miners ahead of rescuers

17.08.2011
In the first moments after a mining accident, first responders work against the clock to assess the situation and save the miners. But countless dangers lurk: poisonous gases, flooded tunnels, explosive vapors and unstable walls and roofs. Such potentially deadly conditions and unknown obstacles can slow rescue efforts to a frustrating pace.

To speed rescue efforts, engineers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a robot that would eliminate some of the unknowns of mine rescue operations and arm first responders with the most valuable tool: information.

Sandia robotics engineers have designed the Gemini-Scout Mine Rescue Robot, which finds dangers and can provide relief to trapped miners. It’s able to navigate through 18 inches of water, crawl over boulders and rubble piles, and move in ahead of rescuers to evaluate precarious environments and help plan operations.

“We have designed this robot to go in ahead of its handlers, to assess the situation and potential hazards and allow operations to move more quickly,” said Jon Salton, Sandia engineer and project manager. “The robot is guided by remote control and is equipped with gas sensors, a thermal camera to locate survivors and another pan-and-tilt camera mounted several feet up to see the obstacles we’re facing.”

Less than four feet long and two feet tall, Gemini-Scout is nimble enough to navigate around tight corners and over safety hatches a foot high. In addition to giving rescuers an idea of what they’re headed into, the robotic scout can haul food, air packs and medicine to those trapped underground. It is equipped with two-way radios and can be configured to drag survivors to safety.

Designers built the Gemini-Scout to negotiate nearly every known mine hazard. Methane and other gases can ignite if exposed to sparks, so the electronics are housed in casings designed to withstand an explosion. “Such measures would prevent a spark from causing further destruction. While it might harm the robot, it wouldn’t create another dangerous situation for the miners or rescuers,” Salton said.

To ensure functionality in flooded tunnels, Gemini-Scout’s controls and equipment needed to be waterproof. “When we were designing a robot that could provide this level of assistance, we had to be aware of the pressures and gases that are often found in that environment,” said Sandia engineer Clint Hobart, who was responsible for the mechanical design and system integration. “So we had to make sure the strength of materials matched what our goals were, and we had to keep everything lightweight enough so it could navigate easily.”

In addition, engineers had to build something intuitive for new operators who need to learn the system quickly. To overcome that challenge, they used an Xbox 360 game controller to direct Gemini-Scout. “We focused a lot on usability and copied a lot of gamer interfaces so that users can pick it up pretty quickly,” said Sandia engineer Justin Garretson, the lead software developer.

Sandia engineers will demonstrate the Gemini-Scout Tuesday, Aug. 16, 4-5 p.m.; Wednesday, Aug. 17, 11 a.m.-noon; and Thursday, Aug. 18, 4-5 p.m. at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Unmanned Systems North America 2011 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Members of the media who are interested in attending should contact Melanie Hinton of AUVSI at (703) 677-1400 or mhinton@auvsi.org.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provided funding for the efforts, which have been underway for the last three years. If all goes well, the Gemini-Scout could be ready to head underground by the end of next year. The team is in the final stages of licensing Gemini-Scout to a commercial robotics company, but for now, the Mine Safety and Health Administration will be the primary customer.

“We anticipate that this technology is broad enough to be appealing to other first responders, such as police, firefighters and medical personnel,” Salton said. “Gemini-Scout could easily be fitted to handle earthquake and fire scenarios, and we think this could provide real relief in currently inaccessible situations.”

Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated and managed by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia media relations contact:
Stephanie Hobby, shobby@sandia.gov, (505) 844-0948

Stephanie Hobby | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sandia.gov

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake
12.12.2017 | Duke University

nachricht Two holograms in one surface
12.12.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>