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Survivor Buddy Robot Becomes Interface to World


Survivor Buddy

The Survivor Buddy is designed to attach to any search and rescue robot and is able to display expressions such as surprise, sadness, happiness and nods.

Credit: Jonny Green / The Battalion

A joint project between Texas A&M and Stanford universities is developing a rescue robot capable of connecting trapped victims with the outside world. The robot, Survivor Buddy, provides Web-enabled search and rescue functions and can be attached to any rescue robot to enhance the link between a trapped victim and emergency responders. Texas A&M professor Robin Murphy says that when attached to a rescue robot, Survivor Buddy "is a head that would allow a multimedia interface while the robot is being used by the responders to check out the structural damage and doctors to look at you."

Stanford researchers are working to make computers act like social actors, with the goal of having people treat Survivor Buddy as if it were alive. The Survivor Buddy head is smaller than a notebook and can be attached to any rescue robot about the size of a shoebox. "The Survivor Buddy project not only provides a great opportunity to learn more about computers and robots as a social medium, but also produces a tool which will be useful to rescue workers everywhere," says Texas A&M student Zachary Henkel.

Survivor Buddy also features a fully enabled multimedia interface, and has two-way audio speakers, a microphone, and a computer screen capable of displaying streaming video. Murphy notes that the Survivor Buddy monitor can move itself, so when rescuers move the robot to survey the surrounding area, the screen can stay focused on the victim. "We very much want to see these robots being used to find survivors and do the best job they can to be a comfort and an asset," Murphy says.

From The Battalion (TX)
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