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— Telecommunications

Vodafone Foundation unveils a backpack with a mobile network inside

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
— Robotics

Google’s Schaft robot takes top spot at DARPA Robotics Challenge

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
— Health and Wellbeing

eTriage armbands could get disaster victims treated faster

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
— Science

FINDER detects heartbeats beneath 30 feet of rubble

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
— Robotics

Payload-carrying tailed robots could form leaping mobile sensor networks

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
— Robotics

DARPA's ATLAS humanoid robot gears up for disaster response

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
— Robotics

DARPA announces winners of Virtual Robotics Challenge

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
— Mobile Technology

SOSCharger keeps phones juiced even when there's no electricity

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