Evacuating Casualties with Robots

A simulation of two BRACE enabled platforms approaching a casualty before collaboratively lifting and dragging him to a safe position.

As part of the US Army Futures Command, the Army Medical Research and Development Command is pioneering the development of unmanned systems and robots that can evacuate casualties from the battlefield. These systems transport injured Soldiers out of harm’s way.

“The idea here is that unmanned systems can save the lives of medics, who often face dangerous combat situations when Soldiers get hurt,” said Stan German, Senior Scientist at Charles River Analytics. “For example, evacuation robots can prevent medics from being exposed to enemy gunfire or shrapnel.”

Working with sponsors from the Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), we recently received additional funding to integrate proven sensing and autonomy capabilities into our modular hardware and software Body-Aware Robotic Appliqué for Collaborative Evacuation (BRACE) toolkit. BRACE enables plug-and-play integration with current and future unmanned systems, giving this toolkit unprecedented adaptability.

Our state-of-the-art perception technologies support effective manipulation, navigation, maneuvering, and obstacle avoidance in varied operating conditions. BRACE performs dynamic world modeling, 3D casualty perception, path planning, and localization onboard each vehicle. The toolkit also shares relevant information with networked unmanned and manned teammates using a communications manager optimized for constrained-bandwidth networks.

BRACE includes a visual perception component (Anthropometry and Pose Observation using Low-Dimensional Latent Optimization, or APOLLO) that lets robots accurately perceive casualties in real time.

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This work is supported by the US Army Medical Research and Development Command under Contract Number W81XWH-19C-0025 and Contract No. W81XWH-18-C-0079. The views, opinions and/or findings contained in this report are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy or decision unless so designated by other documentation.

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