Dr. Nuno Martins, associate professor and director of the University of Maryland Robotics Center, together with fellow UMD researchers, is developing a prototype of autonomous, ant-sized robots that will be able to explore dangerous or unstable areas after a disaster.
These small antbots will have the ability to search for life signs from survivors and airborne toxins, measure levels of radiation and then communicate findings back to the home base. This will save rescuers from the danger of needing to explore these areas themselves.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, reseachers hope to create a small army of these tiny robots with very simple algorithms because they will be run on limited power. Currently, each bot costs between $20 and $30 and have a size of 1.5 square centimeters.
Looking forward, UMD aerospace engineer Sean Humbert is hoping to create a way for the antbots to fly. Martins' team hope that this robot army will potentially be used in rescue projects, architectural framework inspections and military surveillance.
For more information, visit http://www.psmag.com/environment/antbots-to-the-rescue-42580/
June 7, 2012