Motion-Detecting Kinect Robot Could Help Rescue Missions
Microsoft Kinect’s motion-detection console for Xbox 360 may be cutting edge in the gaming world, but the system’s potential doesn’t end there. In fact, engineers at the University of Warwick in England are developing a Kinect-powered robot that would have the ability to search the ins and outs of dangerous locations to find trapped survivors, according to a BBC report.
The news of the initiative comes on the heels of the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a rescue robot such as this would be useful for entering unstable buildings and searching for signs of life. About 200 people are still missing after the earthquake hit the region.
The Warwick Mobile Robotics (WMR) group is using Kinect to give robots a 3-D view of an area and also produce a 3-D map of a building’s interior layout. Previously, the WMR engineers were using pricey laser-based equipment that only produced linear maps.
In addition, switching from a linear system to Kinect would save the group about $3,249 – or 2,000 pounds – for each robot.
Microsoft only recently allowed its Kinect hardware to be used for other purposes beyond gaming on its Xbox 360 console. The company announced last week that it will debut a developer’s kit for personal users in the spring, and a commercial kit will soon follow.
Doing so will give more people access to the system beyond just gaming in the future.