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Working on unmanned Search and Rescue devices to speed up the SAR process

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From 15 to 19 July 2013 CMRE hosted one of the 2013 sea trials of ICARUS, EC project aiming to develop robotic tools which can assist "human" crisis intervention teams.

After some recent disasters, the European Commission confirmed that there exists a large discrepancy between (robotic) technology which is developed in laboratory and the use of such technology in the field for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations and crisis management. Thus, the European Commission's Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry decided to fund ICARUS (Integrated Components for Assisted Rescue and Unmanned Search operations), a Research project which aims to develop robotic tools which can assist "human" crisis intervention teams.

The introduction of unmanned Search and Rescue devices can offer a valuable tool to save human lives and to speed up the SAR process. In addition, Search and Rescue at sea is a topic of interest to both military and civilian authorities. Technology developed for military applications can be utilized for SAR.

The ICARUS project, where CMRE is working together with 23 partners, concentrates on the development of unmanned SAR technologies for detecting, locating and rescuing humans. There is a vast literature on research efforts towards the development of unmanned Search and Rescue tools. However this research effort stands in contrast to the practical reality in the field, where unmanned search and rescue tools have great difficulty finding their way to the end-users.

ICARUS addresses these issues, aiming to bridge the gap between the Research community and end-users, by developing a toolbox of integrated components for unmanned Search and Rescue.

The ICARUS developments are planned to be validated and demonstrated in the year 2015, using two major demonstration events: a simulated earthquake exercise in Belgium and a maritime accident exercise in Portugal.

CMRE is involved in ICARUS with INESC (Laboratory of Microgrids and Electric Vehicles, Portugal), Portugal Navy, and Calzoni, an Italian company, in the development of an Unmanned Maritime Platform. The main goal is the development and the adaptation of existing Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV) platforms to improve the instrumentation (sensors, actuators, power and computational power) and the autonomous motion of survival capsules, used in the SAR process. The final aim is to have USVs acting as first aid devices in case of accidents. This effort incorporates the development of rescue/survival capsules, the development of a complete robotic system and of new USV behavior sets. 

During the ICARUS 2013 sea trial at CMRE, ICARUS partners tested the development achieved after one and a half years from the beginning of the project. CMRE and CALZONI are in fact co-developing the Autonomous Vessel that enters the area of operations to perform the deployment of the survival capsules. In particular CMRE is involved in the integration of sensors aimed at the detection of the obstacles and the "victims", and on the development of autonomous behaviors that will make use of these sensors.

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