Air-deployable mobile sensor robots to aid first responders

May 09, 2019 //By Rich Pell
Air-deployable mobile sensor robots to aid first responders
Mobile sensing robot startup Squishy Robotics (Berkeley, CA) has unveiled rapidly deployable sensor robots that can be air dropped from drones and helicopters to provide situational awareness and to mitigate hazards during disasters and emergencies.

A spin-off of NASA research, the shape-shifting sensor robots, says the company, provide life-saving situational awareness about chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE) threats so first responders and the public can make crucial decisions faster. Shaped like a geodesic ball, the Squishy Robots are equipped with six cameras, GPS, and various interchangeable chemical, biological, and radiological sensors that deliver data and 360-degree videos in situations where human access can be difficult or unsafe.

"Our Squishy Robots are very compliant, meaning they are designed to take the force from a fall and not get damaged, and offer the situational awareness that is essential for first responders," says Dr. Alice Agogino, co-founder and CEO, Squishy Robotics, Inc. and a professor of Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley. "We have a solution for the urgent, worldwide need to improve efficiency and increase the safety of emergency responders and the public."

"Over the last 20 years, 400 first responders have died going into dangerous situations," says Agogino. "Our sensor-equipped robots can make a tremendous difference for these brave people by saving lives, reducing costs, and increasing overall effectiveness of emergency response teams."

When dropped 400 feet from a drone or 600 feet from a helicopter, the lightweight sensor robots can quickly provide first responders and HazMat teams with data from the ground, eliminating the need for responders to enter risky environments and reducing their exposure to unknown hazards. The first responders, located a safe distance away from the danger, monitor the scene with the Squishy Robotics' user interface (UI) to get the real-time visual and chemical/biological/radiological concentration readings needed to respond to emergency situations.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are used to improve data analytics over time and optimize mobility solutions. The company has created both stationary and mobile robots; the mobile version - still in beta - is capable of being remotely controlled to travel over uneven ground.

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