Overview of the ImPACT Tough Robotics Challenge and Strategy for Disruptive Innovation in Safety and Security
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The ImPACT Tough Robotics Challenge (ImPACT-TRC) is a national project of the Japan Cabinet Office (2014–2018, 62 PIs and 300 researchers, 30 MUSD/5 years) that focuses on tough robotic technologies to provide solutions to disaster response, recovery, and preparedness. It consists of sub-projects of six types of robot platforms and several component technologies integrated with the robots. One of them is the Cyber Rescue Canine suits for monitoring dogs’ behavior and commanding their movement, which has shown high effectiveness in regular exercises of the Japan Rescue Dog Association. Another platform is a new serpentine robot, Active Scope Camera, which can crawl and levitate in gaps of a few cm to search in rubble piles. Structural assessment and radiation measurement were performed by this robot in Fukushima-Daiichi from December 2016 to February 2017. The other serpentine robots showed high mobility in ducts, in and out of pipes, on uneven terrain, and on vertical ladders, and climbed a 1-m-high step by a 1.7-m-long body. The Omni Gripper can grasp a wide variety of targets, even with sharp edges, without the need for precise control by using the jamming phenomenon. The robust flight of a new drone, PF-1 under difficult conditions contributed to the response operations in the Northern Kyushu Heavy Rain Disaster by gathering high-resolution images of inaccessible areas in July 2017. The WAREC-1 can move on four legs or on two legs, or crawl, and can climb vertical ladders as well. The Construction Robot has a double-swing dual-arm mechanism, operator assistance by bird’s-eye view images created by a drone and multiple cameras, and assistance by force and touch feedback. It can perform both high-power tasks and precise tasks remotely. All of these technologies have been demonstrated at the Field Evaluation Forums, which have been organized twice a year since the beginning of the project. These forums have promoted the communication between researchers, production companies, service providers, and users in order to achieve disruptive innovation not only in technology but also in industry and society.
The ImPACT Tough Robotics Challenge is conducted by a number of domestic and international researchers, collaborative companies and users, staffs for management and field testing, the Japan Cabinet Office, the Japan Science and Technology Agency, the International Rescue System Institute, and many supporters. I, as the program manager, sincerely appreciate all their contributions.
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