Inspired by the elephant trunk, our ambition is to build a robotic arm that can reach people buried under debris. It can move through tight gaps and supply victims with water and medicine. Rescue troops can establish visual and acoustic contact with them, thus gathering vital information to get them out to safety, without endangering the victims or the rescue team. Our arm provides important information for the saviours so that they can reach the victims faster and safer.
On the average a buried person survives up to 72 hours under the debris (if uninjured and with water up to 100 hours).
16 Earthquakes with 7 or higher magnitude in 2016.
On the average about 10,000 people die each year as a result of earthquakes.
to reach buried victims through earthquake rubble with tight holes, irregular surfaces, we decided to create an entirely new concept
our final product will be a thin, elephant trunk like arm that consist of two parts: the driving body and the navigating tip
with the overall length of 10-15m and maximum diameter of only 10cm, our trunk can navigate through the deepest, most inaccessible debris
through a tube in the body, water and medicine can be brought to the victim
the driving body is a flexible tube interrupted by drive segments every 1 meter
these motor-powered segments provide forward and backward movement on nearly any terrain throughout the arm with our innovative drive mechanism based on the screw
they will be modular, so the arm can be elongated at will by adding these flexible and motorized segments
the tip of the body is about 1 meter long and consists of multiple pneumatically actuated segments with 3 elastic air-chambers, which can extend individually by letting air in or out
it can take up virtually any shape and allows maneuvering through tight holes (less than 10cm in diameter) and curves (less than 20cm radius)
the softness of the tip guarantees safe handling by the operator and the victim
all pneumatic actuators are located in the back to decrease the weight in the front
the user only controls the movement of the front using cameras and lights in the tip, and the rest of the body is programmed to follow the movement trajectory
the environment is mapped with 3D mapping technology to enable further analysis of the rubble
with a built in microphone and speaker, the rescue team can listen for victims and communicate with them when found
Transport and Power Supply
to transport the trunk, it can be simply rolled up, carried and deployed by hand
the arm only needs two power inputs: electricity and pressurized air – both already available in most technical rescue vehicles
Our team consists of eight future mechanical engineers and one future electrical engineer studying at ETH Zurich in their 3rd year.
At ETH mechanical and electrical engineering students in their 3rd year of bachelor have the unique possibility to be part of a Focus Project Team. Each team is given a different problem to solve and has 9 months to construct an innovative solution from scratch. The teams will be responsible for their own product development, from conception to financing to design and production. The goal is to create a new product as a proof of concept and to gain real practical experience.
Project supervision & Coaching:
- Prof. Dr. Roland Siegwart
- Jannick Oberbeck
- Fabian Blöchliger
- Florian Achermann