Vijayanta, a team of students from the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri, has won the ‘Best-in-Class Dexterity Award’ under the ‘Standard Disaster Robotics Challenge’ of ‘Disaster Robotics Category’ held as part of World Robot Summit (WRS 2021), Tokyo, Japan, for their innovative search and rescue robot. The award-winning robot, Paripreksya, was developed with the help of the team from Humanitarian Technology (HuT) Labs, an engineering research lab of the university, under the guidance of Dr. Rajesh Kannan Megalingam (Director, HuT Labs).
The initial rounds of the competition attracted the participation of nearly 120 teams from all over the world. However, from India, only two teams were selected for the finals, and both were from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. In the finals that attracted the participation of the top 10 teams, Vijayanta emerged as the winner in its category. The summit was initially supposed to be held in July-August 2020, however, due to pandemic, it got postponed to 2021 and teams participated remotely.
Paripreksya is designed to speed up search and rescue operations at the disaster zones that are inaccessible or not safe for human rescue teams to venture. The robot can increase the situation awareness of relief workers by providing views of the disaster zones, thanks to its supreme disaster area mapping and maneuvering abilities. The robot can move on uneven and harsh surfaces. Paripreksya’s advanced sensors help it to carry out damage assessment operations accurately. The robot also has the capability of rescuing and transporting victims from the disaster site to safer zones.
Commenting about winning the award, Dr. Rajesh said, “We are very proud of our team at HuT Labs who have come up with a life-saving innovation and demonstrated their ability to design and develop robotics of international standard. We believe that students should be encouraged to apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems. The modularity, mobility, and robustness of the robot have won them this prestigious award at an international forum. We wish our students all the best with their future endeavors of innovation.”
Every year hundreds and thousands of lives are lost during natural and manmade calamities such as earthquakes, mine accidents, and nuclear disasters. At least one-third of the lives lost can be saved by deploying robots for swift search and response rescue operations, as robots can enter harsh and dangerous environments to provide on-time communication and medication for survivors. They can also help contain further damages.