The Rescue Robotics System consists of highly autonomous modular Micro-hangars, with six small UAS aircraft housed in weather proof enclosures either permanently situated in remote, inaccessible locations or as mobile systems with emergency services vehicles. The aircraft in these systems can be initiated from extreme distances to carry out rapid response missions. The aircraft will be permanently in a launch ready state, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with the minimum personnel required and smallest logistical footprint.
The core proposition of the Rescue Robotics project is to establish an information network, connecting all personnel and agencies involved in an Emergency Event response, to real-time data collection. This system enables all Emergency Services personnel to draw from a reservoir of historical data held at the Communication Hub (Command & Control Centre) as well as to add real-time updates directly into that network which can be immediately accessed by all other users including the field operatives, the Command & Control Centre (Communication Hub) personnel and associated agencies, regardless of where they are in the world. The outcome of this is fast and reliable information upon which to make important strategic and logistical decisions, vastly speeding up the response time to Emergency Events and enabling an accurate logistical response, streamlining delivery of support and supplies for well understood, targeted needs that have been captured in this information Network. It is accurate to recognise that the central activity of the Rescue Robotics system is essentially information gathering and dissemination.
What makes the Rescue Robotics System unique ?
1/ Holistic systems approach
2/ Automated airborne and micro-hangar operations
3/ Long range remote Command and Control
4/ Centralised Command and Control of multiple units
5/ Centralised information provides shared service for all Emergency Service Responders increasing coordination.
6/ Capability applicable to all Emergency Service Responders
7/ Ability to carry out multiple tasks that are non-emergency operations adds value
8/ Logistical independence / low logistical footprint
a/ Power source independent
b/ Self-powering / wireless recharging
c/ Automated selectable modular payloads
Combined, these elements make this a world first system
What is it ?
The Rescue Robotics system is a foundation platform with a integrated organisational system to acquire and disseminate vital information for emergency events. It provides regional and national level multiple response options using UAS including on-call all weather search capability and high precision delivery of relief supplies and emergency communication. Particularly important is independent long range communication relay and rapid reconnaissance, providing vital information to emergency responders, including infrastructure damage, crop damage and situational awareness of human survivors. As well as it's Emergency Services missions it also provides a multitude of non-emergency services.
The Situation :
In almost all emergency event responses the common element is the need for speed, for rapid response. Throughout the Pacific there are issues around accessibility to regions, particularly following adverse weather or natural disasters. This accessibility is a major cause of delay to relief response. The solution is to have the relief tools already located in regions under potential threat. This system is in a rapid response reading footing, permanently in a launch ready state. Aircraft are to be located in specifically designed weather tight enclosures, micro-hangars, stationed permanently in remote areas or as vehicle transportable trailers. These stations and their aircraft are able to be activated from extreme long range command centres and so that operations are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing the fastest first response action possible.
Obvious locations for these systems are remote islands, key national parks, roading and infrastructure areas or near main settlements, towns or cities that are high risk/high event areas. The micro-hangars are vehicle transportable as trailer units making the same technology available to be utilised by any emergency response group. They have been designed to replicate the size of standard shipping containers and therefore are ideal for sea freight. They are lighter than standard shipping containers and therefore are able to be transported to locations on a wide variety of sea craft or land vehicle.
The Plan :
To begin with the Rescue Robotics system will focus on daily emergency service requirements. Maritime and Land Search & Rescue , Surf Lifesaving and Rural Fire will be the first users of the system. These key organisations will be vital partners to grow the "real world" application of this technology and assist to evolve it into well refined tools for disaster management emergency services.
Ultimately the highly resilient systems will be able to provide emergency relief support over long periods of time. This will include the ability for the aircraft to repower themselves and have selectable payloads within their launch enclosures. This enables the aircraft to provide a range of on-going post disaster relief operations.
This system is easily exportable and after development in New Zealand the aim is to make this system available to nations in the South Pacific region and then to emergency services throughout the world.
The System :
UAS aircraft can currently be separated into two basic sectors, fixed wing and multirotor. Generally it is correct to assume that multirotor or VTOL (Vertical Take-off and Landing) aircraft are ideal for "surgical" missions, those requiring short range, heavy lift tasks but where adverse weather conditions are not major factors. Fixed wing platforms can provide longer endurance and wider operational weather envelope options.
In most situations the system will involve six fixed wing aircraft housed in fully weather-proof micro-hangars. Dependant on the expected operational parameters of the location where the system is positioned, it may be that multirotors are more applicable and can replace fixed wing units or there may be a mix of both fixed wing and multirotor aircraft. The micro-hangars are flexible in the aircraft they house.
The systems will be remotely activated and pre-programmed to carry out multiple tasks. These include, but are not limited to ;
- A/ Rapid search and information gathering in preset sectors to identify objects of interest.
- B/ Relay all information gathered between the aircraft, field operatives and the Command and Control Centre. This includes both airborne follow me and landed fixed point communication relay systems.
- C/ Deliver life-preserving payloads such as life rings (water) or medical supplies/communication device, to targets identified as persons in distress.
There are three main components to the system to achieve these targets.
- Element 1/ Aircraft in micro-hangars : All weather capable, on-call, multirotor and fixed wing aircraft in remotely located micro-hangars that operate largely as autonomous systems.
- Element 2/ Infrastructure Independant Communications : a solid, infrastructure independent, communications link between the aircraft, the remote micro-hangar and the Central Command and Control centre.
- Element 3/ Hybrid Sensors : All weather capable, hybrid day-night sensors.
The System's Future :
It is somewhat inevitable that the Rescue Robotics system will largely be personified by it's advanced "drone" aircraft but it is essential to understand that it's primary strength lies in the fact that it is a systems approach to a range of problems, one that does not rely on the longevity of any single component. The UAS are infact just one of the elements, albeit an essential one, in a holistic approach to the problem. Any element of the Rescue Robotics system can be upgraded without compromising the base structure. The methodology may be enhanced by upgrades but the core systems solution approach will remain intact. As such the system is largely future proof and will only benefit, broadening capability, as technology evolves.