Georgia Tech project could change how rescuers respond to disasters

ATLANTA — Researchers at Georgia Tech are working on a project that could change the way rescuers respond to a major disaster area.
Researchers told Channel 2's Craig Lucie they are using not one, but teams of robots that can be programmed to help firefighters, business owners and even farmers.
"We are interested in how people engage with large teams of robots," said Dr. Magnus Egerstedt who has been leading the robot research.
In a Georgia Tech lab, the small robots provide a glimpse of what people may see in a major disaster area within 10 years.
"The point of this project is for us to interact with a large team of robots without having to program the robots individually," Yancy Diaz-Mercado told Lucie.
"Why teams?" Lucie asked.
"If you send out a million robots, and one breaks, no big deal. If you send one, and it breaks, it's a big deal," Egerstedt answered.

Mercado says the robots in the lab are just models, but soon, they will be built in all shapes and sizes.

"You can have snake robots go through holes. You can have flying robots get a high picture of what is going on. You can have bigger wheeled robots that can actually bring rubble out," said Egerstedt.

Each robot has a computer, Wi-Fi card and antenna creating an indoor GPS system so they can follow a light projected on the floor.

"The light is just a pictorial representation of areas of interest. Each robot carves out a region that it is in charge of so farmers could use them. The robots can check out the plants and make sure they are doing well," said Egerstedt.

Egerstedt and his team have been working on the robot research project for two years. They say robots could be working a disaster area in 10 years.