Pitt Researchers Simulate Urban Rescue Environment
at RoboCup 2005 in Osaka, Japan
Immersive cave will allow audience to watch robots search for victims
PITTSBURGH —As the July 7 bombings in London have so devastatingly
illustrated, disaster relief is an arduous task, one that is carried out mainly
by humans (and trained dogs), communicating face-to-face or by phones and walkie-talkies.
Robots may provide limited support for search and rescue activities, but are
typically remotely operated by a separate team of humans and can be difficult
To help robots become more helpful to humans during rescue operations, researchers
from Pitt have developed virtual hazardous environments that they demonstrated
at the International RoboCup Federation’s RoboCup 2005 competition at the
INTEX Exhibition Center in Osaka, Japan, through July 19. The goal of the annual
RoboCup competitions, which have been in existence since 1997, is to produce
a team of soccer-playing robots that can beat the human world champion soccer
team by the year 2050. As part of that program, teams of robots also compete
in a search-and-rescue category.
Lewis, associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Information
Science and Telecommunications and Jijun Wang, a graduate student in the department
demonstrated their virtual environments in the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)
competition, which takes place in portable disaster arenas designed by the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to replicate the hazards and difficulties
encountered by robots in real disaster environments. The demonstration uses exact
models of these arenas as well as models of NIST’s Nike silo robotic test
site and an office building damaged in the Kobe earthquake to provide a range
Based on the Unreal game engine, the Pitt simulation
provides realistic graphics and accurate physics to duplicate
the problems and challenges faced by operators of real
search and rescue robots. The operator’s interface
and overhead views of the arena will be displayed next to an immersive cave where
the audience can follow the robots as they search for victims.
The simulation is available at http://usl.sis.pitt.edu/ulab/usarsim_download_page.htm and
more information about the demonstration is available at www.isd.mel.nist.gov/projects/USAR.
For more information on the RoboCup competition, visit www.robocup.org.