HELIOS VIII: Toward Practical Robots for Search and Rescue Operations
Michele Guarnieri*, Inoh Takao**, Edwardo F. Fukushima*,
and Shigeo Hirose*
*Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Ohokayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8552, Japan
**International Rescue System Japan, 1-2 Minamiwatarida-machi, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki 210-0855, Japan
With the progress and new technology developments in robotics research, the realization of practical tools for urban and industrial disaster response, from a mere dream, became a reality.
Crawler vehicles, because of their terrain adaptability, have a considerable importance for rescue operations and tasks performed on damaged areas (i.e. unstructured environments). This contribution proposes a tracked robot named HELIOS VIII, consisting of a manipulator utilized not only for handling operations but mainly to assist the motion of the robot itself. In order to prove the efficacy of HELIOS vehicle concept, an overview on the experiments carried out with the first developed prototype HELIOS VII will be presented. Afterwards the new vehicle HELIOS VIII will be introduced illustrating in detail its mechanical design as well as its control architecture. Improvements from the previous version are explained and justified with emphasizing the mechanical design of a new soft gripper consisting of four fingers actuated by a single motor. The new end-effector consists also of a special mechanism for the connection of the vehicle to another crawler unit. This solution can improve the system terrain adaptability on very rough terrains. Finally tests will be explained and discussed as well as the impact of the proposed solution toward the realization of effective tools for disaster relief.
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