When disasters strike, every minute matters.
And the time spent surveying the scene is time that can’t be spent saving survivors.
Researchers at Texas A&M University and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have collaborated on a way to speed up the process. Small robots take photos of the disaster site. The photos are then uploaded to a computer program called Rubble- Viewer that transforms them into a three-dimensional map of the site.
(The program is based on Microsoft’s Photosynth software, which won a 2008 PM Breakthrough Award.)
This could speed up rescues. “It can take 10 hours to extract somebody because you don’t know the structure,” says Robin Murphy, a professor of computer science and engineering at Texas A&M. “This will give structural engineers more accurate information to speed up extraction.” RubbleViewer’s creators hope to get the software to first responders by August, when hurricane season normally hits its peak