Engineers in the Humanoids and Human Centered Mechatronics Lab at the Italian Institute of Technology, in partnership with the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme, have created the remarkable Centauro, a very sturdy search and rescue robot that has four legs and a truly anthropomorphic body that can lift heavy items, poke holes in fences and easily cut through wood and other objects. Lead engineer on the project Nikolaos Tsagarakis has specifically stated the goal of the Centauro to be “…capable of using unmodified human tools for solving complex bimanual manipulation tasks, such as connecting a hose or opening a valve, in order to relieve the situation” in an emergency.
Disaster scenarios, like the Fukushima nuclear accident, clearly show that the capabilities of today’s disaster response robots are not sufficient for providing the needed support to rescue workers. The CENTAURO project aims at development of a human-robot symbiotic system where a human operator is telepresent with its whole body in a Centaur-like robot, which is capable of robust locomotion and dexterous manipulation in the rough terrain and austere conditions characteristic of disasters. …It will be able to navigate in affected man-made environments, including the inside of buildings and stairs, which are cluttered with debris and partially collapsed.