UKZN Partners with University of Buenos Aires in Robot Research
Research, design and implementation of technologies associated with the operation of search and rescue robots forms the focus of a joint Science and Technology research project between UKZN and the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) in Argentina.
The project, jointly co-ordinated by UKZN’s Professor Glen Bright and Dr Jose Franscisco Zelasco of UBA, provides a platform for research, design, construction, assembly and testing of simulations, models and equipment required for optimum performance of a semi-autonomous robot.
The purpose of the research is also to investigate current field robots used in such operations and then develop new technologies to optimise vehicle performance operation.
Objectives of the project are to develop:
A technologically advanced semi-autonomous robot that uses the latest research and development innovation to provide a vehicle that can be used in disaster zones by South Africa, Argentina and other countries worldwide for search and rescue operations. A strong research collaboration partnership between Bright and his UKZN research group and Dr Jose Franscisco Zelasco and his research group. Innovative technologies that can be used on semi-autonomous robots to enhance the quality of life of people who reside in South Africa and Argentina.
The outputs include:
· Publication of joint findings in high level conferences and journals around the world.
· Enhanced Science and Technology research between UKZN and UBA.
· Opportunity for students and staff from both institutions to improve their education while working on the joint projects in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes (BSc, MSc and PhD).
Zelasco said: ‘I enjoyed my 10 day stay in Durban and the hospitality of the staff in Mechanical Engineering. The research equipment and infra-structure of the Mechanical Engineering Department was extremely impressive. I am grateful to Mechanical Engineering Department staff for hosting me.’
Bright said: ‘The significance of the project is that the researched, designed and implemented semi-autonomous mobile robot will be able to perform search and rescue operations in hazardous environments. This will eliminate the need for human intervention in an environment that would cause casualties and in many cases, death. The destruction of the Twin Towers buildings in New York earthquakes in Haiti, tsunamis in East Asia, nuclear disasters in Japan, mining disasters in South America and fires in low cost housing developments highlight the need for search and rescue robots worldwide.’