EMILY TO THE RESCUE
Rapid advances in technology are revolutionizing the roles of aerial, terrestrial, and maritime robotic systems in disaster
relief, search and rescue (SAR), and salvage operations. Robots
and drones can be deployed quickly in areas deemed too unsafe
for humans and are used to guide rescuers, collect data, deliver
essential supplies, or provide communication services.
Over the last several years, a team of roboticists at the University of Tehran has
been working on increasingly large and complex
life-size humanoids. For their latest project,
however, the Iranian researchers decided to build
something smaller and cuter.
Surena Mini is a knee-high robot with a sleek
3D printed body, articulated limbs, and a round
head with two camera eyes. Twenty small
servomotors power its arms, legs, and neck,
allowing the little robot to walk, gesture, and
“The main purpose of this robot is to provide
researchers and students with a reliable robotic
platform for educational and research
applications,” commented Aghil Yousefi-Koma, a professor of
mechanical engineering at the University of Tehran.
He added that his group also has plans to offer the
robot “for helping autistic and deaf children.”
A team of 15 researchers at the University of Tehran’s
Center for Advanced Systems and Technologies worked for
over a year to design and build Surena Mini, which is 50
centimeters tall and weighs 3. 4 kilograms.
Packed inside the robot are a compact computer with
an Intel Core CPU, cameras and infrared sensors, speakers,
and an IMU (inertial measurement unit). Its hands aren’t
designed for grasping objects, but Surena Mini can push on
small things or karate-chop them.
Surena Mini’s overall size and design appear similar to
that of other small humanoids like Nao, developed by French
robotics company Aldebaran (now SoftBank Robotics), and
Robotis OP2, created by US and South Korean roboticists.
Despite their size, these little robots are pricey. Nao and
Robotis OP2 each sell for nearly US $10,000. Professor
Yousefi-Koma said Surena Mini will be available for
260,000,000 Iranian rials, or $8,000, but he hopes the cost
will come down if the robot can be produced in large
One of the biggest challenges of the project, he
explained, has been implementing features like face detection
and voice recognition, which would let the robot perform
with a greater level of autonomy. His team has developed
such capabilities for their large robots, but replicating them
using Surena Mini’s limited hardware is a trickier task.
bots IN BRIEF
SERVO 09.2017 31
Emily — short for Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard — is a
remote-controlled rescue boat used by lifeguards to save people's life
at sea. (Photo courtesy of Hydrolanix.)