CRASAR in Tampa Bay Florida.
The use of robots for search and rescue had been discussed in the scientific literature since the early 1980's but no actual systems had been developed or fielded. The first real research began in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City (OKC) bombing in 1995. Robots were not used at the OKC response, but a graduate student, Maj. John Blitch (US Army), of Dr. Murphy's participated and took notes as to how robots might have been applied. Dr. Murphy was then a assistant professor at the Colorado School of Mines. The initial post-OKC efforts took two directions: the development of an expert system for determining which existing robots are useful for what situations (Blitch's MS thesis) and exploration of marsupial (mother-daughter) class of robots as a solution to several platform deficiencies (Murphy, with funding from the National Science Foundation). Murphy created a cache of small, fieldable robot platforms to be used in the event of a real disaster as well as an experimental platform based on a children's battery-powered jeep. The work by Blitch provided some of the motivation for the DARPA Tactical Mobile Robot (TMR) program, which produced prototype small robots for military operations in urban terrains. Blitch later took over as program manager for the DARPA TMR program. Robots and personnel for WTC response were drawn from the TMR program.
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