GW4 Crucible Seed projects 2019

Robots for Disasters: Trust and Resilience Under Pressure

PI: Dr Edmund Hunt (Bristol)

Co-PIs: Dr Laura Colebrooke (Exeter), Dr Avelie Stuart (Exeter)

Co-Applicants: Dr Alexia Zoumpoulaki (Cardiff)

We are holding a workshop to bring together researchers from a range of disciplinary perspectives across GW4 who have an interest in the effective use of robots for disasters (natural and anthropogenic).  

We are expecting a day of lively discussion to build networks and establish new research collaborations. These will address future and emerging opportunities and challenges for the use of robots to address a range of disastrous events and environments: ranging from floods and earthquakes to fires and nuclear radiation leaks; and from densely populated high-rise urban environments to search and rescue in rugged outdoors terrain.  

Autonomous robot systems are already developed and deployed across a range of industry sectors in specific, controlled conditions. In an uncontrolled environment, where there is a higher level of interaction with humans and unpredictable environmental variables, there is potential for unexpected and/or undesirable results. This may be especially true in hazardous disaster scenarios.

Furthermore, one of the defining characteristics of disaster response is its urgency and stressfulness for human teams on the ground working alongside (multi-)robot systems. In such situations, human leaders commonly rely on quick, intuitive decision-making with limited information. This is in contrast to slower-paced, analytical decision-making, where information is gathered and weighed methodically. What are the implications for trust and resilience of robot systems in pressured disaster scenarios?  A multidisciplinary perspective is necessary to develop the socio-technical foundations before widespread real-world deployment.