The use of robots for the rescue of people in natural disasters it is increasingly studied. These devices can more easily reach places that humans cannot access, they have tools to raise barriers, open doors or any other necessary task and, of course, do not put a person in danger to do so. In addition, there are drones that can be used to find victims from the air in hard-to-reach places. But why choose? Ideally, a robot that can do both. For this reason, a team of scientists from Italian Institute of Technology is making improvements to iCub, a humanoid robot that, equipped with a jetpack, could become a superhero very similar to the Marvel’s Iron Man.
The robot already existed previously. It has human-like features and the stature of a child. He is able to open doors, close valves and other necessary tasks in the rescue of victims of natural disasters. Besides, his bipedal locomotion gives you the ability to walk and climb stairs. But it doesn’t fly. That gives you the ability to inspect scenarios at ground level, but not to be able to observe from above to more quickly find where help should be directed.
This is something that can be solved with the placement of one of those propulsion packs known as jetpacks. But that is not enough. iCub needs a few more improvements to become the Iron Man we all need.
From humanoid robot to true Iron Man
In a release published on their website, the creators of iCub have put the Indian tsunami 2004 as an example of natural disasters in which a flying humanoid robot would have been useful.
Remember that there some 230,000 people died and another 140,000 were injured. In addition, 1.74 million people had to be displaced or cared for. A humanoid robot like iCub would have been very useful. But above all if the search for victims and survivors had been added to his current capacities during the air.
For this reason, they have already begun an investigation that goes far beyond the simple placement of a jetpack.
iCub to the rescue
To turn him into an Iron Man, these Italian scientists plan to place their humanoid robot, 104 centimeters in height and 33 kg in mass, two propulsion engines. These are being studied independently on an experimental test bed. But how will it handle itself in the air once they are placed on it?
To find out it is necessary to study their aerodynamics, for what they are doing computer simulations of fluid dynamics.
And, with the results obtained, they have begun to analyze the necessary algorithms so that you can regulate height and position from the air. Thus, initially it would act as a drone, capable of locating its target from the air, but with the ability to launch itself to help. Like a real Iron Man.
All this turns this humanoid robot into a true superhero, although there is still a long way to go. At the moment, there is already four iCubs manufactured and ready, in the absence of finishing developing its flight mechanism. With them, the rescue could be carried out from different fronts of the same natural disaster. We don’t know when a tsunami, tornado wave, major earthquake, or volcano can put humans back on the ropes. Having the help of robots will undoubtedly be a point in our favor. And if that robot is practically a Marvel superhero, all the better.