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Robots ready to search rubble for survivors in Surfside condo collapse

Search and rescue robots can reach places humans cannot and make sure it’s safe.
Credit: WTSP

TAMPA, Fla — As search crews work around the clock to search for survivors of the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, specialized robots are on standby.

A company called Teledyne FLIR tells 10 Tampa Bay two of its robots are on the ground ready to assist.  The small remote-controlled robots can be the eyes of search teams and can search areas where first responders might not be able to.

The robots can also check the rubble for structural safety as they search for voids inside of the roughly 30-foot pile for signs of life.

RELATED: Should people living in the sister tower of the collapsed Surfside condo be worried?

Dr. Robin Murphy is a computer science and engineering professor at Texas A&M.  She’s also a member of the non-profit Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue or CRASAR.

Murphy has been researching and working with this technology since 1995. She led a team of USF engineering students to assist in search and rescue efforts at ground zero in the days after September 11th, 2001. 

Since then, search and rescue robots have been used in other search and rescue missions including building collapses and after natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes.

“You can put that robot in before you have to make it safe for humans to go any further. You can throw that robot to the top and start looking before you've got the okay to start crawling over the rubble,” she said.

“If you have robots as part of the day job, available as part of these response teams, they can do it immediately. There's no waiting and there's no waiting to make the site safe for people. And that can speed up the response quite a bit.”

While Teledyne FLIR’s robots are on the ground in Surfside, Murphy says CRASAR has been asked to be on standby to send their robots and teams to assist.   

RELATED: White House: No plans for Biden to visit site of Florida apartment collapse

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