Researchers from CBRN defense (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive defense) are making use of robotics, in this case unarmed vehicles and robots to gather vital information e.g. photos and samples from crime or disaster scenes. Without a doubt their initiative will help save lives in the near future.
Risks that involve CBRNE materials are among major safety concerns. Accidental or targeted events caused by such agents are a potential treat to humans. They could also hinder and endanger any subsequent forensic investigations.
To face the challenges involved in examining such incidents, researchers from the EU-funded project „ROCSAFE” (Remotely Operated CBRNE Scene Assessment Forensic Examination) are developing strategies and technologies that will automate the collection of evidence related to CBRNE scenes. This will be done by using remotely controlled robotic aerial vehicles (RAVs) and robotic ground vehicles (RGVs).
According to a news report in Ireland’s „TheJournal.ie”, a research team has recently conducted a test to foresee how first responders, emergency workers and forensic specialists would react to ‘dirty bomb’-type scenarios. These bombs combine radioactive waste materials with conventional explosives. They could contaminate an area and cause loss of life, injury, property damage, social and economic disruption, or environmental degradation.
According to the ROCSAFE, the overall goal of the project is to radically change how CBRNE events are assessed, in order to ensure the safety of crime scene investigators by reducing the need for them to enter high-risk scenes when they have to determine the nature of threats and gather forensics.
First, RAVs – which have cameras and miniaturised sensor systems for radiological, nuclear, chemical and biological threats – will assess the scene. All images and data will be sent back to a command centre using special central decision management software. The data will be analysed and displayed on the interface with maps and video, showing results of analytics and giving readings geographical context. This will enable the scene commander to assess the nature of threats, develop an action plan and an evidence plan supported as needed by the Central Decision Management.
After this process, RGVs will roll in to collect forensic material or evidence, with automatically optimised routes to avoid hazards. Thus, ROCSAFE will ensure that CBRNE scenes are assessed more rapidly and thoroughly than is currently possible, and that forensic evidence is collected in a manner that stands up in court, without putting personnel at risk. It adds that the RAVs and RGVs are designed to endure rain, wind, and challenging ground surfaces and obstacles.
The ongoing ROCSAFE project is led by the National University of Ireland Galway and brings together various experts from the private and public sectors, including the Irish Defence Forces.
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