the team has mounted on the CHIMP robot's head.
Roboticists use laser radar technology (also known as
LIDAR) in order to sense remotely, measuring distance and
mapping environments by lighting up surfaces with laser
light. The light reflected back to the robot is then examined
for distance and size measurements of the objects and
surfaces. This enables the robot to map its environment and
Using LIDAR, the CHIMP creates a 3D map of its
surroundings which its human operators can see and use
as a complete view of the CHIMP's location inside its
environment. This enables the operators to coordinate the
robot's routes and actions.
Using the 3D map and video from several cameras in
the head, the human operators can drive the robot's
activities using command and control. Operators use a large
screen monitor, keyboard, and mouse to control the CHIMP.
At the same time, the robot has significant
autonomous operation enabled by its programming,
which the researchers developed through simulation using
equipment that mimics the robot's limbs, etc. This
autonomous operation lets it maintain its balance, avoid
objects, and perform certain automated tasks. The human
operators decide where the robot should go, what it should
grasp, and what direction to turn a valve, for example.
The head, arms, and legs are mounted to a torso for
mechanical support, and a black box at the base of the
robot contains computing and electronics technologies.
The CHIMP's semi-autonomous operation coupled with
its many degrees of articulation make it suitable for cost
savings on otherwise expensive tasks; for example, where
human safety and life are at risk. These jobs include plant
operation, maintenance and inspection, construction, and,
of course, disaster recovery.
The CHIMP's 3D user interface supports a very high
level of task direction by human operators despite
communications over a degraded network. This increases
the CHIMP's capability of increased safety and productivity
in its use and improves control of remote equipment due to
increased situational awareness, according to data from the
Tartan Rescue Team that built and operates the CHIMP
robot. The operators use latency-corrected 3D displays
which provide the high level task direction capability. This
makes the CHIMP a viable asset when using mining
equipment in places where it is often too dark for aging
The CHIMP's advanced mobility up and down stairs and
ladders and over obstacles and debris enable it to take its
sensors and manipulation abilities to facilities engineered for
human workforces without the need to modify them.
Because the CHIMP has full body control and stability
14 SERVO 05.2014
Robots to the Rescue
Robots are already seasoned workers with many
years of experience helping in disaster recon and
recovery, working in the aftermath of 9/11, and various
weather events including the earthquake/tsunami
scenario in Japan that led to multiple explosions and
melt-downs at the now infamous Fukushima nuclear
power plant. The CHIMP robot and many others are in
development waiting to play their roles in saving lives
and reviving lost assets.
The CHIMP robot navigates a set of steps which is
something it might do in a real disaster response scenario.
Note how its tank-like foot treads remain immobile as it
climbs, while its end effectors grasp the rail to help it
balance itself. The CHIMP is a semi-autonomous robot.
For example, its ability to climb stairs is automated, though
the CHIMP's human operators must direct it toward the
steps and tell it to climb.