46 SERVO 07/08.2018
What exactly is the Robotics: Urban
Search & Rescue?
Here’s the scenario: Police receive a tip about a bomb
threat in a nearby neighborhood. The neighborhood is
evacuated, and now it’s time for the bomb squad to
investigate. One tool the squad relies on is a robot
designed to locate, neutralize, move, and dispose of the
This happens almost every day somewhere in the
country, so the Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue event
offered by SkillsUSA gives high school and college
students the real life hurdle creating a mobile robot that
can navigate and remove explosive materials or ordnances
in a simulated environment. Each robot is built by a two-member team, and the teams are judged on five different
elements — not just their performance on a timed course.
The purpose behind the challenge is clear. The
demand for designers, skilled technicians, and
manufacturing workers who are fluent in mechanical
design and electrical systems, and highly skilled in
troubleshooting and maintenance of robotic systems is
projected to grow. The current generation of students is
expected to take artificial intelligence and robotics into the
evolving world of emergency services, finding new ways to
help trained personnel react more quickly and effectively.
It is vital that our future labor force be on the leading
edge of current and emerging technologies, and possess
the technical and team skills necessary to design,
manufacture, maintain, and operate this life-saving robotic
The two-member team builds its robot and arm
mechanism prior to the competition and then (during the
competition) remotely operates the robot, which should be
capable of locating, grabbing, and moving simulated
ordnances on the challenge course. This remotely operated
vehicle (ROV) must traverse the course, locate the
ordnances, secure them, and then properly dispose of
them. Each team will perform one round of competition
consisting of a time-limited mission to locate and dispose
of the two ordnances.
During the mission, each team must complete several
procedures specified in the rules provided at the event.
The mission is limited to six minutes. Each two-member
team works from a command center to remotely operate
its robot to carry out the mission.
The command center is equipped with a monitor
displaying the video feed from an onboard wireless
camera system attached to the robot. The robot begins
the challenge course from a starting point. The timed
mission starts when the robot begins to move and ends
when the robot drops the last ordnance into the
containment unit, or if time runs out.