Special Issue on Rescue Robots
Koichi Osuka* and Satoshi Tadokoro**
This special issue brings together the many achievements on rescue robots development beginning after the Hanshin-Awaji Great Earthquake in Kobe. The earthquake that laid waste to most of Kobe, Seattle’s sister city, early on the morning of January 17, 1995, was a wakeup warning to robotics researchers who realized that the potential of their studies had not been realized in its greatest and most challenging arena – a disastrous earthquake where robots and similar strategies could have rescued people in situations where no other help or support was possible. Japanese robotics researchers set up academic working groups to study and promote such R&D. The national project involving key next-generation urban disaster prevention technologies includes the subtheme of rescue robots, with robotics researchers introducing concrete achievements. A Japanese national project had never used the term of rescue robots before then. Rescue robots range from simple instruments powered by human operators to intelligent machines able to operate virtually on their own. Some advanced rescue robots have built-in prime motive power and others use the latest in artificial intelligence. This special issue brings to readers a dozen articles introducing the many and varied achievements by Japanese robotics researchers covering a wide range of rescue robots. With this field poised to enter the main stream, these robots are close to practical application, and knowledge of their capabilities is essential to those able to utilize this latest technology in their current and future re search. This issue is a must to all who are interested in exploring the new world of robot rescue.
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Copyright© 2003 by Fuji Technology Press Ltd. and Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers. All right reserved.