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Disaster Robotics

Robin Murphy: These robots come to the rescue after a disaster


When disaster strikes, who's first on the scene? More and more, it’s a robot. In her lab, Robin Murphy builds robots that fly, tunnel, swim and crawl through disaster scenes, helping firefighters and rescue workers save more lives safely — and help communities return to normal up to three years faster.

Robin Murphy researches robots — ground, aerial and marine — that can help out during disasters.

Robin Murphy imagines how robots can do tasks no human could amid scenes of disaster hard to imagine, from the World Trade Center disaster to Hurricane Katrina to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear emergency. In her recent book, Disaster Robotics, she lays out her research into the problem, which pulls together artificial intelligence, robotics and human-robot interaction.

At Texas A&M, Murphy is the director of the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue and the Center for Emergency Informatics. She also co-founded the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society’s Technical Committee on Safety Security and Rescue Robotics and its annual conference. Her field work, combined with technology transfer and research community-building activities, led to her receiving the 2014 ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics.

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