Photokina 2014 highlights

Disasters

The Tsunamiball is the sole work of designer Chris Robinson (Photo: Chris Robinson)

Following the tsunami that hit Japan in March, 2011, designer Chris Robinson was inspired to create an escape pod to ensure he and his family could survive if such a disaster were to occur in his home city of Palo Alto, California. After some two years of painstaking design and construction, his floating off-grid shelter, dubbed Tsunamiball, is nearing completion.  Read More

US Atomic Energy Commission 14 kT Bunker Charlie test - October 30, 1951 (Photo: USAEC)

The best advice for surviving a nuclear bomb is to be somewhere else when it goes off. If that doesn't work out for you, though, a recent study carried out at the USDOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) provides some simple guidance for maximizing your chances of survival.  Read More

The Vodafone Foundation has unveiled a portable mobile network contained in an 11 kg (24.3...

Mobile phone networks are a key means of communication when humanitarian efforts need to be coordinated at times of disaster. If infrastructure has been damaged, however, using the existing mobile networks may not be an option. The Vodafone Foundation's Instant Network Mini is a highly portable mobile network in a backpack that can be deployed in just 10 minutes.  Read More

Schaft scored 27 points

Leave it to DARPA to turn disaster relief into a competitive sport for robots, and for Google to walk away with the prize. On Saturday, 16 robotics teams from around the world competed in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials for 2013, as part of DARPA’s project for developing robots capable of autonomously navigating disaster areas and doing useful work using tools and materials at hand. The two-day event was streamed live on December 20 and 21 from Florida’s Homestead Miami Speedway. Google’s Schaft humanoid robot scored 27 points and won first place as it navigated an obstacle course which was made to simulate a disaster area, while carrying out a series of tasks.  Read More

An eTriage armband, that transmits a patient's location and condition

When emergency response crews have to deal with many casualties at once, such as at a disaster site, one of the first things they do is set up a triage system. This involves assessing the severity of each patient's injuries, so that the people who need help most urgently get it first. It's a system that works, but the EU-funded BRIDGE project is trying to make it better. The project partners are developing a new high-tech triage, that incorporates GPS and RFID technology.  Read More

The Bloom helmet from Toyo Safety looks like any other safety helmet, but folds down for s...

Natural disasters can strike at any moment, and often with little, if any, warning. This is especially true in countries located along fault lines, which can experience sudden and devastating earthquakes. Though countries such as Japan have measures in place designed to warn of earthquakes, the risk still exists. Which is where the Bloom from Toyo Safety could prove its worth.  Read More

The FINDER system (lower right, in photo) being tested at the Fairfax County Fire Departme...

Sniffer dogs and fiber optic cameras may soon be getting some assistance, when it comes to locating people trapped beneath debris. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate has joined forces with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to create a microwave radar-based system known as Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response – or FINDER. The new technology is able to detect a human heartbeat buried up to 30 feet (9 meters) under assorted rubble.  Read More

The tailbot, a running, jumping mobile sensor that can maneuver in mid-air with its tail (...

Imagine mobile sensor networks that run around, jump and maneuver in the air to get the job done. That's what Jianguo Zhao is working towards; his design for such networks involves biologically-inspired sensors in the form of robots with little tails. These "tailbots" are expected to have applications in areas ranging from search and rescue to surveillance and environmental monitoring.  Read More

An incomplete version of the ATLAS robot maintains its balance even when hit with a 20 lb ...

DARPA has revealed the completed ATLAS humanoid robot, which is to star in the upcoming DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) – and it cuts a striking figure. Designed by Boston Dynamics (the guys behind the BigDog, Cheetah, and LS3 quadrupeds), it's being given to the top teams that recently competed in the Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC). Now those teams have less than six months to fine tune their software with the real robot before they face the first of two live challenges.  Read More

Rear view of a simulated ATLAS robot preparing to drive a utility vehicle as part of DARPA...

DARPA has announced the nine winners of its Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC). The VRC, which ran from the 17th to the 21st of this month, was the first of three events that make up the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) and tasked the 26 competing teams with developing software that would enable a disaster response robot to quickly and successfully perform three tasks that it would likely encounter in a disaster zone.  Read More

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