Underground structures pose a major challenge for emergency personnel due to the demanding conditions. Complicating factors, such as poor visibility, smoke, high temperature, hazardous substances, and structural hazards affect the work of the personnel and pushes emergency equipment to its limits. The utilization of a sensor-equipped semi-autonomous robot for supporting analysis tasks allows for site-specific deployment techniques and safe decision-making. The aim of ROBO-MOLE is to increase the safety of operational emergency personnel and casualties in the event of accidents in underground structures. This is realized through an automatic detection and identification scheme of hazardous substances in combination with a real-time navigation and map creation in subsurface environments. To cope with these specifications, the robot is equipped with numerous navigational sensors as well as CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear) sensor technology. Two of the major goals in this project are robust position determination without external infrastructure (this is partly task of the Institute of Geodesy, Working Group of Navigation) and the creation of complex 3D maps with semantic information about hazardous substances. Because of the large amount of data recorded by the sensors, sophisticated algorithms have to be developed to solve the problems regarding navigation and positioning as well as semantic interpretation of hazards in underground structures. Overall, the development of the proposed semi-autonomous on-site exploration and analysis system is designed to make underground operations more efficient and safer.
To simulate close to real underground scenarios, “Zentrum am Berg (MUL)” will serve as testing environment.
This project is funded by the Austrian Promotion Agency (FFG) within the programme line "KIRAS".