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Fire brigades and special agencies are often demanded to operate for search and aid of human lives in extremely dangerous scenarios. It is very important to first verify the safety of the environment and to obtain remotely a clear image of the scenario inside buildings or underground spaces. Several studies have been addressing the possibility of using robotic tools to carry out safe operations. This contribution presents the development of the HELIOS team, consisting of five tracked robots for urban search and rescue. Two units are equipped with manipulators for the accomplishment of particular tasks, such as the handling of objects and opening doors; the other three units, equipped with cameras and laser range finders, are utilized to create virtual 3D maps of the explored environment. The three units can move autonomously while collecting the data by using a collaborative positioning system (CPS). After an overview on the specifications of the team of robots and with respect to previous publications, detailed information about the improvements of the robot mechanical design and control systems are introduced. Tests of the CPS system and HELIOS IX vehicle together with a typical mission experiment are presented and discussed.
Date of Conference: 10-15 Oct. 2009