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Robots That Help During Power Outages

Big disasters almost always result in big power failures. Now, a team led by Nina Mahmoudian, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering–engineering mechanics at Michigan Tech, has developed a tabletop model of a robot team that can bring power to places that need it the most. She says regaining power in communication towers is critical when rescue missions are going on but unfortunately, cell towers are often located in hard-to-reach places. But she adds that if robots could be deployed there, that would be the first step toward recovery. The team has programmed robots to restore power in small electrical networks, linking up power cords and batteries to light a little lamp or set a flag to waving with a small electrical motor. The robots operate independently, choosing the shortest path and avoiding obstacles, just as you would want them to if they were hooking up an emergency power source to a cell tower. To view the robots in action, click here.

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