Kazan Federal University

KFU working on control systems for search and rescue robots

The Department of Intelligent Robotic Systems, headed by Professor Evgeni Magid, is implementing a project titled Information system for emergency management in flood and landslide areas using a distributed heterogeneous group of robots.

“I started working on search and rescue robotics while I was still a graduate student at the University of Tsukuba, and my thesis was about one aspect of this topic, which was the development of an automatic navigation assistant for a search and rescue mobile robot that tells the operator of the robot which route would be the safest and shortest. I continued to pursue the topic of search and rescue robotics even after completing my graduate studies, during my work as a researcher at the University of Tsukuba and Carnegie Mellon University from 2011 to 2013, gradually amassing networking in this field. In 2015-2017, we successfully conducted collaborative research with one of the leading Israeli groups in the field of robotics at Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology. This project, supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, dealt with the tasks of localization, mapping and pathfinding for a ground robot using a group of unmanned aerial vehicles, which is one of the most important tasks in search and rescue operations,” says the Professor.

Another important objective, in addition to scientific results, was to further strengthen international cooperation. As a result of interaction within the project, more than 30 scientific articles were published in co-authorship with foreign participants in publications indexed in the Scopus and Web of Science databases. A quadripartite international agreement on scientific cooperation was signed between Ritsumeikan University (Japan), Kyoto University (Japan), Kazan Federal University, and Mahidol University (Thailand), which allowed to expand scientific cooperation beyond the project framework and with great prospects.

In the summer of 2022, Junior Research Associate Ramil Safin (Laboratory of Collaborative Industrial Robotic Systems) spent two months interning at Kyoto University with support from Russia’s Potanin Foundation. Apart from research activities, he contributed to a RoboCup Rescue League tournament as part of Kyoto University’s SHINOBI team.

Together with foreign project teams, special sections were organized at six international conferences, where KFU scientists presented the interim results of the project. During the period of 2019 – 2023, Magid, as the leader of the entire project, acted as an invited plenary speaker at ten different international conferences and symposia: all ten presentations were devoted to the project results. During the development period, national team leaders have served on the organizational, program and technical committees of more than ten major international conferences.

“Asian countries, including the Asian part of the Russian Federation, have a high level of disaster risk, among which floods are the most frequent and carry the heaviest losses in terms of human casualties and economy. So when a special RFBR competition in the field of disaster risk reduction and emergency management came up in 2018, which was to bring together teams from several East Asian countries, I contacted my colleagues from Thailand and Japan. We prepared a joint project proposal in a few months, the goal of which was to develop a concept for an information system that enhances the robotization of search and rescue operations in a disaster zone. I was selected to lead the project, which brought together four scientific groups to create such a system,” continues the interviewee.

The international collective offered a concept of an information system of data gathering for effective robot control in disaster areas. Many virtual and physical instruments have been produced in the process.

According to Magid, the KFU team continues working on the project; in particular, a new publication recently saw light in Advanced Robotics.

The created micro-simulator can be used for machine learning for the needs of disaster relief services, and new custom-made interfaces expand the functionality of existing robots thanks to new algorithms.

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