Centauro, the European robot for emergencies and natural disasters
The nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, revealed the limitations of today’s robots in operating under extreme conditions and in carrying out tasks normally performed by humans. To overcome these limitations, the European Commission has committed 4 million euro to the Centauro project, consisting in a teleoperated robot capable of operating in emergencies and natural disasters.
Equipped with four legs and an anthropomorphic upper body, the Centauro robot can move easily on rough terrain and inside of buildings, and climb and descend stairs. Above all, through a system of two exoskeletons that can be worn on the operator’s arms and that are able to provide tactile feedback, Centauro can also be remotely controlled to perform manual tasks.
“It is able to carry out very complex manipulation tasks, such as opening or closing a valve or using a drill”, explained to ResearchItaly Antonio Frisoli, professor of robotics at the Institute of Communication, lnformation and Perception Technologies (TeCIP) of Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, scientific director of the Centauro project.
Sant’Anna School is responsible for the construction of the telepresence station that enables the operation of the robot from a distance, allowing the operator to perceive the tactile sensations experienced by the robot in the field. Through sophisticated ‘teleoperation’ control systems and systems for the simulation of disaster scenarios, the robot is also able to operate efficiently in the event of loss of communication or instability.
The Centauro project, funded under Horizon 2020, is coordinated by University of Bonn and involves the Italian Institute of Technology, which was responsible for the development and construction of the robot. Other European partners include Royal Institute of Technology and Linköping University (Sweden) and RWTH Aachen University, ProgenoX GmbH, and Kerntechnische Hilfsdienst GmbH (Germany).