Cleanup Robots are on the way

Cleanup Robots are on the way

UT Dallas is in the works in training multi-function robots that can help people with oil spills, hurricane alerts and navigation of trails according to a Dallas Morning News article from July 6. They say, 


“It’s not easy for human beings to clean up after a hurricane or oil spill. To find out which hazardous chemicals are in an area, or if the air is safe to breathe, disaster response teams risk putting themselves in danger.


So David Lary, a physics professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, is developing a safer cleanup task force.


It’s staffed with robots.


Lary leads a research group called MINTS-AI, which stands for Multi-Scale Integrated Interactive Intelligent Sensing for Actionable Insights. The group is training a fleet of robots that can collect data about the environment all on their own by walking, swimming and flying.”


Dr. David Lary furthers the capabilities and potential of the robots which could do extensive information gathering according to a University of Texas at Dallas article which reports, 


“An autonomous team like this could do a survey and rapidly sample what’s in the air and the water so that people could be kept out of harm’s way,” Lary said. “In another context, the robots could provide a general survey of ecosystems, or they could look at situations such as harmful algal blooms in lakes.”


Lary said the autonomous robotic teams are also useful for real-time decision support in areas such as agriculture and infrastructure inspection.


“Not only do we get depth information, we also can measure the height of any vegetation that’s in the water. We can determine what is at the base of a pool, pond or estuary and the kinds of fish in the vicinity. With the sonar we can count and size the individual fish and get the total biomass in a vertical profile,” Lary said.


“In just a few minutes we can collect many thousands of data records,” Lary said. “So, if you were to deploy a robot team multiple times over several locations in a period of about a month, you could get hundreds of thousands — even millions — of records. It’s the rapid acquisition of relevant data that can help keep people out of harm’s way, which is the point.”


Currently, Lary and his team are still looking for further funding and support to extend their research and produce more robots and sensors.