After a natural or man-made disaster, it is crucial to locate survivors within the critical first 72 hours. The European and Japanese research initiative CURSOR aims at accelerating search and rescue operations within these so-called “golden hours” and also at increasing the overall safety of search and rescue teams in the line of duty. Researchers of the CURSOR project received the Best Research Technology Award of the Robotics Society of Japan. Prof. Satoshi Tadokoro, Mr. Yu Ozawa and Prof. Masahiro Watanabe from Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan) are being awarded for their innovative robots which can climb over and under obstacles to find victims in disaster zones. This remarkable accomplishment is being announced at the Annual Conference of the Robotics Society of Japan on 8 September 2021.

Three researchers from Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan) were awarded for their innovative robots which can climb over and under obstacles to find victims in disaster zones.

Agile robots reduce total search time

Tohoku University, a member of the CURSOR consortium, is involved in the development of miniaturised robotic equipment, the so-called SMURF (Soft miniaturised underground robotic finders). Within any disaster zone, the SMURF can explore wide areas providing the search and rescue teams with valuable on-site information which reduces the total search time. Thus, surviving victims can be located earlier and accidents in dangerous environments can be prevented and the safety of workers and search and rescue teams can be ensured.

SMURF
SMURF

Prof. Satoshi Tadokoro of Tohoku University is thrilled about the Best Research Technology Award: “Achieving increased mobility of the SMURF is key to the success of the whole CURSOR Search and Rescue kit. With our research we managed to proceed significantly. The fact that my team and I have been rewarded with the Best Research Technology Award makes me really proud.”

Responding to first responders’ needs

The challenge for Prof. Satoshi Tadokoro and his team was to pro