What should you do when alarms are ringing, the building is rapidly filling with smoke and the crackle of fire is just round the corner? Follow the robot, say Ayanna Howard and Paul Robinette, researchers at the Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, who want to create smart roving exit signs. . . .Howard and Robinette say the robots should be at least as tall as a human, so that they can be seen in a crowd, and styled after familiar exit signs with lights and arrows to guide the way. They have created two possible designs.
Teams of these robots would be stored in large buildings and receive instructions from a human operator during an emergency. A robot would start in "rescuer mode", searching for people in need of help, and then change to leader mode when it finds people it can guide to safety. If a robot comes across an injured person, it will make their location known to emergency personnel and stay with them to act as a communication device.
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