• Snake robots move quickly in confined spaces, rough terrain

    Snakes usually travel by bending their bodies in the familiar S-pattern. When they are stalking prey, however, snakes can move in a straight line by expanding and contracting their bodies. This “rectilinear gait” is slow, but it is quiet and hard to detect—-a perfect way to grab that unsuspecting rodent. This “limbless locomotion” is a highly effective way for a robot to move through cluttered and confined spaces.

  • Building disaster-relief phone apps on the fly

    Researchers combine powerful new Web standards with the intuitive, graphical MIT App Inventor to aid relief workers with little programming expertise.

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  • How Sandy has changed storm warning procedures

    Superstorm Sandy slammed against the U.S. Eastern Seaboard in October 2012, inundating iconic communities. Those communities have been rebuilding since then and things are almost back to normal for most. Something else, however, has had to be rebuilt as well: the structured procedures for issuing warnings. The goal is to help communities better comprehend what natural disasters will bring their doorsteps.

  • Top Five most awesome robots

    In the last decade, robots have often been employed on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, usually to seek out hidden bombs. More and more of these the robots are now being adopted by first response agencies to help in search-and-rescue operations in the wake of disasters. The growing interest in – and usefulness of — robotics have also inspired a series of competitions and challenges, some of which are directed at high-school and college students, to encourage budding scientists to go into the field of robotics.

  • Justice Department sues to block release of FirstNet-related information

    A federal court in Des Moines, Iowa, accepted arguments by Justice Department lawyers to issue a temporary injunction to block the release by an Iowa Sherriff of e-mails pertaining to a public safety communication network. The Justice Department argued the release of e-mails could seriously impede plans for this single, interoperable network designed to resolve the communications problems that hampered responses to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and other disasters. FirstNet, to whose board Fitzgerald was appointed last year, was authorized by Congress in 2012 to develop and deploy the communications network and is housed in the Department of Commerce.

  • World's smallest drone may be a search-and-rescue tool

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    Researchers have designed, built, and tested the world’s smallest open source autopilot for small unmanned aircraft. A smaller and lighter autopilot — it weighs only 1.9 grams — allows these small flying robots to fly longer, fit into narrower spaces, or carry more payloads such as cameras. This makes them more suitable to be used, for example, rescue operations.


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  • Rapid response, imaging of injuries aided Boston Marathon bombing victims

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bombing survivors have the highest incidence of injury to soft tissue and musculoskeletal systems with the most extreme injury being traumatic amputation, which is reported in up to 3 percent of cases. The Boston Marathon bombings resulted in three fatalities and 264 casualties, with the most severe injuries involving lower extremities of those located closest to the blasts. Blast injuries within civilian populations are rare in the United States, so when they do occur they challenge the medical community rapidly to respond to concurrent evaluation and treatment of many victims.

  • New camouflage makeup shields soldiers, firefighters from heat of bomb blasts, fire

    Camouflage face makeup for warfare is undergoing one of the most fundamental changes in thousands of years, as scientists today described a new face paint that both hides soldiers from the enemy and shields their faces from the searing heat of bomb blasts. Firefighters also could benefit from the new heat-resistant makeup.

  • Guaranteeing communication coverage in the event of disaster

    An EU-funded project that aims to develop a rapidly deployable wireless communication network for use in the aftermath of an emergency, disaster, or unexpected event, was commended recently at an international event.

  • Effective screening of airline passengers arriving from areas of infectious disease outbreaks

    New study shows that exit-screening at thirty-six airports would have assessed all air travelers at risk of transporting H1N1 out of Mexico at start of 2009 pandemic. Screening at 99 percent of the world’s international airports could have been forgone with negligible missed opportunities to prevent or delay the spread of disease. Screening at just eight airports worldwide would have led to the assessment of 90 percent of all at-risk air travelers.

  • Controlling contagion by restricting mobility

    In an epidemic or a bioterrorist attack, the response of government officials could range from a drastic restriction of mobility — imposed isolation or total lockdown of a city — to moderate travel restrictions in some areas or simple suggestions that people remain at home. Deciding to institute any measure would require officials to weigh the costs and benefits of action, but at present there is little data to guide them on the question of how disease spreads through transportation networks. A new MIT study shows that in the face of an epidemic, even moderate government-mandated travel restrictions would slow contagion.

  • Firefighting robot creates 3D images of burning buildings’ interiors for rescuers

    Researchers develop novel robotic scouts that can help firefighters to assist in residential and commercial blazes. The robots will map and photograph the interior of burning buildings by using stereo vision. Working together both collaboratively and autonomously, a number of such vehicles would quickly develop an accurate augmented virtual reality picture of the building interior. They would then provide it in near real time to rescuers, who could better assess the structure and plan their firefighting and rescue activities.

  • U.S. military trains to support civil authorities during domestic CBRN incident

    Vibrant Response 13-2 exercise, conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), is an annual event and is the country’s largest CBRN exercise. The training exercise is used to evaluate a military unit’s operational and tactical ability to support civil authorities during domestic incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons.

  • Largest annual homeland security exercise to star Monday in Indiana

    DHS will be conducting its largest training event of the year next week in Butlerville, Indiana. The event will involve 5,500 people from twenty-three states, and will start next Monday.

  • Quake Summit 2013: showcasing research on earthquakes, tsunamis

    Members of a national earthquake simulation research network next week will gather at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), for Quake Summit 2013, a scientific meeting highlighting research on mitigating the impact of devastating earthquakes and tsunamis. Titled “Earthquake & Multi-Hazards Resilience: Progress and Challenges,” the annual summit of the 14-site George E. Brown Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), will run from 6 August through 8 August at UNR’s Joseph Crowley Student Center.