As observed on RobotLand, shortly after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan,
Rescue robots help relief efforts in the aftermath of earthquakes and other disasters by navigating through wreckage that is too dangerous for people to enter and by gathering information on missing persons and the surrounding conditions. Small unmanned marine vehicles, both surface (boats) and ROVs (underwater), can be of assistance in inspecting bridges for underwater damage or debris posed to crash into the substructure and damage the bridge. Recent years have seen rapid advances in the development of these robots, and Japan is a global leader in the field.Between the advanced state of robotics in Japan, the extent of the damage, and the likelihood that the wreckage continues to conceal living persons, the current situation presents an unprecedented, pressing opportunity to put the whole range of rescue robots to the test. Ironically, as reported by the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue,
the leading researchers from Japan in rescue roboticswere in the U.S. for the CRASAR-organized JST-RESPONDR exercise and workshop, although they returned to Japan immediately. Robin Murphy of CRASAR has been mentioned here repeatedly in connection with rescue robots. POPSCI.com was also quick to publish an article about (primarily Japanese) rescue robots, including photos, and PHYSORG.com has video.