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The tragedy of September 11th 2001 at the World Trade Center is likely to propel search-and-rescue robotics into its next stage, just as the Kobe earthquake and the Oklahoma City bombing were the catalysts for this research domain. Tragedy hasn't been the only motivator for urban search-and-rescue advancements in the USA and Japan; international competition has motivated both countries, first with RoboCup Soccer and more recently with RoboCup Rescue. We may see inexpensive urban search-and-rescue robots mass-produced within five years if advances in hardware and software keep up.
Date of Publication: March-April 2002