The present era is a witness to several technological advancements which facilitates better prospects for human, better work situations and modifications in present technological circumstances.
One of the major developments is automation and Artificial Intelligence. This technology has brought innovations and modifications to the existing technology that are now able to assist humankind in several ways. One of these developments has been the autonomous Robots for underwater search and rescue.
Autonomous Robots have restructured a lot of fields by adding an extraordinary blend of Artificial Intelligence, sensors, and modified algorithms. This allows the robots to function independently without relying on humans for controlling them. This also paves the way for a lot of progression in the field of research and rescue operations.
Below is a detailed description of the origin and fields of applications of autonomous robots, underscoring their need in search and rescue operations. Moreover, it also emphasises the advantage of autonomous robots hold over human life savers.
1. What are Autonomous Robots?
Autonomous robots are a system that holds the capacity to govern themselves, depending on algorithms, technology and sensors. They do not have to rely on humans to operate or control them. They use algorithms, sensors, and artificial intelligence to interact with their immediate environment.
With how well they have been programmed, they may be capable of making decisions, initiating actions, and suiting themselves in certain situations. In short, they can run independently as a fully functional system if programmed correctly.
1.1 How did this Trend Start?
Robots have been in the big picture for a long time. What’s new is the automation, and them being programmed in a way so that they can aid in several activities that require active manpower. However, to say that automation is a fresh concept will be wrong.
Artificial intelligence, robots, and automation are believed to have existed centuries ago. One of the initial innovations under this was the water clocks which were used by the Greeks to measure time. A further rise in the use of automation and machinery came with the onslaught of the Industrial Revolution. The utilisation of automation and machinery helped facilitate production and efficiency.
Robots, on the other hand, started appearing in the mid-twentieth century.
The term “robot” was christened by a writer called Isaac Asimov. He also went on to formulate laws on the guidelines a robot should follow, which came to be known as the “Laws of Robotics”.
For further reading on the origin of robots, automation, and AI, click here!
2. How are Autonomous Robots used?
Over the years people have realised the usefulness of autonomous robots, and scientists and engineers have been working hard to develop it to its best purpose. Presently, autonomous robots are being used for many reasons, and in a plethora of fields. It is safe to say that they have covered almost all the in-demand fields in the market.
Autonomous robots have showcased their influence in fields like manufacturing, vehicles, healthcare, delivery, space or underwater exploration, search and rescue operations, and even concerning security.
In all these departments, robots have been used in a way that reduces the pressure on humans, and they don’t have to rush for every situation.
2.1. For Instance
In the manufacturing field robots are used to perform and monitor repetitive tasks. This includes painting and packaging.
In the case of vehicles, there are already several automatic vehicles which do not need a human to run them. There are drones too which can be categorised under this field.
Currently, there are taxi services that have serviced automatic cars for pick up and drop off passengers. This development is new, and also extremely safe in case the passengers are women. This kind of arrangement will be safe for women who work in jobs that require them to stay long night shifts.
For the healthcare industries, autonomous robots monitor the availability of medicines and assist the medical team in duties that may require higher manpower, thus reducing the stress on humans.
In addition, they are also used in situations where the human worker may be exposed to dangerous situations like the presence of viruses, and to protect them, the robots work in place of them.
Recent developments have equipped robots even to assist medical professionals during complex surgeries. You can click here for more information on this subject.
Many organisations such as Amazon, and other grocery units are trying to implement delivery through robots and program the robots in a way that they are aware of their surroundings and able to properly deliver the items at the accurate location. This may need further research and modifications.
As much as everyone wants to discover unexplored spectrums like space and underwater, it may be very risky for humans to tread this path. Hence to protect lives, and at the same time ensure that new spaces are being explored, robots are being used to explore space and underwater regions.
They are sent with an in-built camera that gives a picture of the unexplored and facilitates research, new developments, and innovations.
One of the emerging situations with autonomous robots is security. With the help of AI Autonomous Security Robots or ASR are capable of performing a lot of security activities, including surveillance, and other patrolling activities. The only drawback is that they cannot arrest yet, however, with further advancements in the future, they may be able to do it as well.
The recent development under this category is autonomous search and rescue robots performing underwater search and rescue operations, which have been an extremely crucial development, and turned out to be beneficial for people who had duties of doing that because it could turn out to be risky at times.
3. What is a Search and Rescue Robot?
Search and Rescue Robots or SAR Robots are autonomous robots designed for the sole purpose of performing search and rescue operations. The idea was introduced in the early 1980s, yet there was no development in the field until the 1990s. The use of robots in this field is light, yet there is research being initiated to explore the possibilities.
3.1 Where is it used?
The SAR Robots to date have been mostly used in cases of earthquakes, or to initiate search operations in wide areas. In addition, it is also used in case of floods, and other natural disasters.
The SAR Robots are now being modified to initiate search and rescue underwater which is very rare, but the field seems promising and will be very beneficial if people can develop it.
3.2 How will the Search and Rescue Operations Underwater Work?
The search and rescue operations are an actual benefit to humans, since in these cases, the lifesavers are required to go underwater which means breathing problems, and sometimes it may cause sea sickness too.
If the waves are too strong it may cause difficulties to them as well. However, when replaced with an autonomous robot, they have no such human experiences and may facilitate a better and more successful rescue operation.
SAR Robots are programmed with cameras and sensors that help them explore underwater areas and through this they can make a map of the adjoining areas.
Furthermore, the cameras give them a detailed and clear image which helps them to assess the condition of the subject of their rescue. The map and an accurate image of the submerged object help them to plan their next course of action.
3.3 Has any Underwater SAR Robot been used?
Even though, the Hydronalix which is a technology company based in the United States had come up with EMILY (Emergency Lifesaving Integrated Lanyard) which is a device that helps prevent drowning and is mostly used to rescue swimmers.
E.M.I.L.Y. was invented in 2010 and has been striving to save lives that are under threat due to water. This extremely effective device is four foot and twenty-five pounds, can cover 22mph, and easily intrude into areas where humans are at risk.
E.M.I.L.Y. helps the people in the water by using a floating device, by grabbing the vehicle. The people are towed and escorted to the rescue boats, and the shores with its assistance. Rescue ropes to ensure safety are also brought by the device. The person in danger when once reached near the boat, can be pulled up with it. EMILY is known for its durability.
One of the earliest operations of this lifeguard robot was in Malibu CA, since the region has issues with riptides. In 2016, the robot was successful in saving 300 Syrian refugees. To know more about this click here.
E.M.I.L.Y was more concentrated on rescue operations. The same company, Hydronalix, has another device for search and recovery, known as SONAR EMILY. It is a device which weighs 37 lbs and runs at a speed of 18mph.
The device is structured in a way that it has strong handles to grip it, a flag on a long antenna to ensure visibility, cameras on both sides of it, so that detailed images of the surroundings can be produced, and relied on to plan further plans on search and recovery.
3.4 Is the Underwater SAR Robot Reliable?
Underwater search and rescue operations have not been a very explored field. The innovations known under this branch are also very limited. EMILY by Hydronalix is the only known SAR Robot. There is research still being conducted to properly structure them, and extract the best results out of them.
Hopefully, the future may see more devices in different parts of the world to ensure underwater safety, search and rescue.
4. What does the Future of SAR Robots in Water look like?
Presently, Autonomous Search and Rescue Robots in water are small in size and their boundary is limited. The future of Search and Rescue robots in water indeed looks very promising.
With further advancement of science and technology in the future, the robots will be developed to the best of their abilities, and programmed in a way so that they can adapt in extremely challenging circumstances.
- In the first place, robots will become more autonomous and self-governing. They will be modified to a level so that they do not have to rely on humans. This will facilitate the decision-making process on the part of the robot, and allow them to venture in areas that may be dangerous to humans.
- Secondly, the robots will be functioning with better-equipped sensors which will allow them to identify people and objects of rescue easily. This development is significant because that will assist the robots to identify objects and humans in wide and large areas as well.
- Lastly, the AI systems managing them will also be advanced over the years which will make these robots more efficient and functional.
There are also a few Search and Rescue robots in water that are being used and developed for better performance. E.M.I.L.Y is being used for SAR operations. On the other hand, NASA is also working to develop a submersible robot that will help reduce the expenses of the maritime industry. VideoRay ROV by Vicor Corporations can be mapped as another development in this field.
4. In What Way are the Search and Rescue Robots more Impactful than Human Lifesavers?
Compared to the traditional methods of search and rescue, robots hold quite a bit of leverage.
- Firstly, the safety factor doesn’t exist in the case of a robot. However human lifesavers are not able to go to every nook and cranny of the sea in case of pollution or other factors that may be hazardous to their health.
- Secondly, the robots will be able to look at a place at a better speed and also cover a large area as compared to a human.
- Thirdly, they are equipped with monitors that would track or identify humans or other objects of search.
- Lastly, robots may also reduce the costs involved in training and trying to employ a large number of human lifesavers.
With rapid technological developments, we can hope to see more advantages emerging in this field. This will help human beings and make the process of search and rescue more effective. More lives will be saved, and given a second chance at life.
Autonomous robots have come up as extremely beneficial in the field of search and rescue operations. Even though their scope is limited there are ongoing researches to facilitate progress in this field, especially in the realm of underwater rescue operations.
The future will have us relying on autonomous robots, without worrying because of their reliability and potential. The models for underwater SAR Robots are still being evolved, thus reshaping the map of search and rescue operations.