Emerging Technologies: The Yin and Yang of Robot Assisted Emergency Response

Dr. John G. Blitch

At the Emerging Technologies classroom, “The Yin and Yang of Robot Assisted Emergency Response,” Dr. John G. Blitch reviewed the development of robotics, its future, and the possible application to the emergency services.

Blitch is a senior research professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Department of Behavioral Science and Leadership.

He presented various attempts to enable robots to deal with obstacles, developing reliability through self-correction, self-righting, and anti-snagging capabilities. Other common behaviors developed include retro reversing, seeking light, wiggling the antenna, and self-cleaning when the device encounters difficulties. “Sometimes you can’t avoid an obstacle; you just have to go over it,” Blitch said.

He cautioned attendees on working with vendors, recommending considering at least three; there is strength in diversity. “Your vendors may want to sell you something that fulfills a role that fits their model, not yours.”

Although there has been much progress in robotic development over the years, Blitch noted, robots lag far behind humans in their physical and intellectual abilities. In the end, “Humans rescue humans; robots are just a tool.”

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