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Disasters

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

Using the hand crank of the SOSCharger to provide power to an iPhone

When there's a natural disaster or bad storm, power outages are almost guaranteed. This can be an annoyance during a minor storm, but during a more serious disaster, a lack of power can mean not being able to get in touch with friends, loved ones, and in the worst of situations, help. The SOSCharger is designed to combat this by allowing users to keep their phone charged with a simple hand crank.  Read More

Google Maps recently added the evacuated town of Namie-machi to Street View as part of a l...

It's been over two years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami hit the nation's northeastern coast, devastating the population and creating a nuclear incident at the Fukushima power plant. Despite concentrated efforts to repair the damage though, there are still areas that remain vacant and almost untouched since – but that doesn't mean you can't still explore these places yourself. Google Maps recently added the evacuated town of Namie-machi to Street View as part of a larger project to document the destruction and restoration of areas affected by the earthquake.  Read More

Artist's impression of the interaction of the Sun and the Earth's magnetosphere (Image: NA...

Britain is better prepared for a solar superstorm than many countries, including the United States. The Royal Academy of Engineering has released a multi-disciplinary report on space weather’s impact on Britain, as part of the UK National Risk Assessment. The declassified portion of the assessment shows the level of UK preparedness in the face of severe solar storms, and outlines the dangers Earth faces from superstorms and how to avoid or mitigate damage.  Read More

Designed by Chen Yu Jung, Rely is a foldout sleeping domain for natural disaster survivors

Natural disasters cause millions of people to be displaced from their homes each year, so it's not surprising to see young designers putting their efforts towards creating accessible and economical solutions to ease the discomfort for such victims. The Softshelter, AbleNook and Carter Williamson’s Shelter are all great examples of such initiatives, and the Rely foldout sleeping domain is another one to add to the list.  Read More

The Center for Disaster Research is intended to provide intelligence when events such as e...

The University of Copenhagen has created the Copenhagen Center for Disaster Research (COPE), a hub of multidisciplinary expertise designed to improve management of natural disasters.  Read More

How the Macgyver robot will use found objects

In the television series Macgyver, the eponymous title character was notorious of being able to take a paperclip and some pocket lint and make an aircraft carrier out them. Now researchers at Georgia Tech want to give robots that same ingenuity. A team led by Professor Mike Stilman plans to create a “Macgyver bot” that can go into a disaster area and use whatever is lying around as tools to complete its mission.  Read More

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