The Robotics Award 2013 powered by Festo went to the Upper Austrian University of Applied Sciences for its Black Scorpion search and rescue robot. It is designed for use after disasters like earthquakes or gas explosions and can inspect collapsed buildings and locate victims. “With the Black Scorpion, young developers show how they are able to create a highly mobile robotics solution with their creativity and inventiveness. And the concept can be adapted for many different applications,” said jury member Leopold Schagl from Robotics Award sponsor Festo.
The Upper Austrian University of Applied Sciences began designing an urban search and rescue robot in 2008. In Wels, project director Raimund Edlinger and various students in the bachelor’s and master’s automation technology programs began by developing a robot that can compete in international contests like the RoboCup and the Eurathlon.
These efforts led to the MARK rescue robot. Black Scorpion is its little brother. It is especially light thanks to its aluminum structure. And the robot uses a new kind of drive that allows it to move forward and backwards as well as side to side. The robot can also combine movement on these two axes, for example by moving diagonally forward.
Photo: Upper Austrian University of Applied Sciences
Black Scorpion explores its environment using multiple sensors that serve to create a spatial model. Distances are measured using a laser scanner. Changes in certain environmental characteristics provide the robot with information about its movement. The team is still researching the optimal integration of moving objects such as people or doors into the space model.
The ability to differentiate between stationary and moving objects should help the rescue robot operate autonomously. In a crisis situation, the robot must also be able to act independently if the remote control link is interrupted.
AndriX – Photo: Practical Robotics Institute Austria
Second place: AndriX
Second place in the Robotics Award went to the smartphone-based robot controller AndriX. It was developed by the Practical Robotics Institute Austria to introduce children and youths to robotics.
Clasp mounting machine – Photo: AMS Getränketechnik GmbH
Third place: Clasp mounting machine
Third place went to the clasp mounting machine from AMS Getränketechnik GmbH, which installs clasp closures on beer bottles fully automatically.