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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Natural Disaster

Claudia Cowan

San Francisco, CA

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Search & Rescue Robotic “Cockroach”

January 19, 2010 - 1:48 PM | by: Claudia Cowan

Tech wizards at UC Berkeley’s Department of Electrical Engineering are developing mini-robots to help locate earthquake survivors easily, cheaply, and quickly… and without jeopardizing the lives of rescuers.

“Dash,” as the robot is known, is made of cardboard, plastic, and parts of PC’s and toys- and is controlled by remote control. The long-term goal is to equip “Dash” with heat sensors, wi-fi, and cameras, and the capability to relay the location of survivors back to the surface.

Unlike today’s current search and rescue robots, with the right materials in place, Dash can be built in about an hour, and at very little cost. But it’s the design that makes it truly unique– it scurries around like a cockroach, climbing over obstacles and entering tight spaces inaccessible to people.

“Dash” is still years away from being deployed in a real life disaster, but engineers are hopeful that if it performs as they hope, the robot will have limitless applications—not just after an earthquake, but a tornado, an explosion… even a chemical spill….any situation where people are trapped, one day, miniature robots like this one could well save lives.

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