When Baby Jessica famously fell down a well in the 1980s, it took more than two nerve-wracking days to get her out of there while media frenzy ensued. India had its own version of Baby Jessica in 2006, when a five-year-old named Prince was rescued by the Indian Army in a complicated effort that took more than 48 hours.
Many children in India aren’t so lucky. In the last decade, in somewhat of a national epidemic, dozens of young children have fallen down bore wells and some have died of lack of oxygen after rescue efforts failed to come quickly enough.
This was the motivation for three researchers from the Indian Institute of Information Technology to design a robot concept that could rescue kids from these harrowing situations. Complete with robotic arms, a harness that could carry up to a 15-year-old boy, an oxygen supply, and a video feed and lights that would allow for remote tele-operation from the surface, the robot is outfitted with everything necessary to rescue a child, the authors write. The added benefit is that there would be no human rescuers put at risk.
Manish Raj, a research scholar at the school’s Robotics and AI Lab, says his team is currently developing and testing the robot concept using simulators. Eventually, he hopes to find enough funding to bring the creation to life.
Tele-operation of robots is already becoming more common practice in the office environment and even in surgical operating rooms. Here’s one more way that robots could do the dirty work and save lives, too.