Fighting landslides is dangerous work, but help from space is on its way. Recent testing in Italy has shown that the four-tonne Roboclimber can secure slopes without endangering human lives, thanks to innovations from Europe’s space programmes.
"It was amazing to see how easily this huge robot managed to operate on a very steep slope to secure a rocky mountain wall,” said Guglielmo Berlasso, Director of the Civil Protection Office in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in Italy, where the demonstration took place.
Landslides are a big problem in Italy. More than 400 take place each year causing an estimated €1200 million of damage and often deaths. In the 20th century 5939 people were declared dead or missing due to landslides. Alfredo Sandovar from the European Commission was also present at the Roboclimber demonstration and expressed his great satisfaction with the results. “We are aware of the big dimension of this problem which is why we decided to finance this project,” he said. The setting for the first field demonstration of Roboclimber, one of the largest robots in the world, was the beautiful valley of Alta Val Torre, 25 km north of Udine in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy. The mayor of Lusevera selected a near-vertical 30-metrer high rocky wall – similar to a possible landslide location – to enable the Roboclimber to be tested to the full.
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