A group of researchers at Osaka University, Kobe University, Tohoku University, The University of Tokyo, and Tokyo Institute of Technology developed construction robots for disaster relief that solve the various challenges of conventional construction machines used in such situations. Using a prototype machine, verification tests were performed in places that represented disaster sites to confirm successful performance. This prototype looks like an ordinary hydraulic excavator, but uses the following technologies:

The rescue robot is shown with a UAV. (Image: Hiroshi Yoshinada)
  • Quickly and stably controls heavy power machines with high inertia by achieving target values regarding location and speed through fine tuning and by controlling pressures on a cylinder at high speeds.
  • Estimates the external load of a multiple degrees of freedom (DOF) hydraulically-driven robot from the oil pressure of each hydraulic cylinder. The estimated force will be used for force control or force feedback by the operator of teleoperated rescue robots.
  • Measures high-frequency vibration using a force sensor installed at the forearm of the robot, giving the operator vibrotactile feedback.
  • Flies a multi-rotor unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) to the location of the operator’s choice and obtains image information. Long flights and pinpoint landing of the UAV are possible due to power supplied through electric lines and a power-feeding helipad for tethering the drone.
  • Presents the operator with real time images of an overhead view by using four fish-eye cameras mounted on the robot. The operator can use the images to assess the area surrounding the robot.
  • Uses a far-infrared ray camera capable of viewing with long-wavelength light so that the operator can conrol the robot while assessing the situation even under bad weather conditions like fog.

In addition to the previously mentioned technologies, this group is also developing robots with a double rotation mechanism and double arms to achieve higher operability and terrain adaptability.

For more information, visit www.osaka-u.ac.jp/en.