In addition to setting up the SAARP Store, two prototypes have been developed and tested at the Joint Interagency Field Experimentation Program (JIFX), co-hosted by DHS S&T and the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), in February 2014. For ground use, the Throwable Orientation Switching Robot (TOSR) was created as a small, throwable, two-wheeled, remote-controlled device. A second flying prototype, called Remote Aerial Payload Transport Robot (RAPTR), is a 3D printed aerial hexarotor. RAPTR is capable of quickly delivering a small payload, such as a trauma kit, to difficult-to-reach areas. From the control unit, it is also possible to have RAPTR autonomously fly and to provide remote visual feedback to the operator via a small camera feed.
These first prototypes both share a set of core non-printed interchangeable components (motors, sensors, controllers,…) in order to keep costs down and to facilitate the design of additional devices. Affordable, these robots aim to provide challenge-specific disaster response: think of them as the 3D printed TransformersTM of emergency response.
The SAARP (Sensor-smart Affordable Autonomous Robotic Platforms) Store contains 3 sections: a library of robots, a developer storefront and a user storefront. Multiple robots and other devices have been designed and incorporated into the 3D model library. More are being developed through a crowd-sourcing mechanism. The developer storefront allows developers to upload robot models and associated software, robot specifications, training materials, assembly instructions, software instructions. The library allows third-party developers to maintain their Intellectual Properties (IP) and receive payment if their devices are printed. The user storefront allows users to access these items and user support.
Because TOSR and RAPTR are 3D printed, they are easily adaptable to new mission needs and can be quickly modified to carry additional payloads. RAPTR is an easy to-use, adaptable, low-cost aerial robotic platform. TOSR is ideal for situations where its recovery may not be possible (e.g., chemical or biological survey, or use in finding personnel in a hazardous building collapse).
The Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF) is working with Robotic Research and Applied Minds, LLC to extend this concept for a forward-deployable, rapid-manufacturing container. The REF's labs were widely publicised for using 3D printers to support critical frontline needs in Afghanistan. The Army realized the need to develop a complete platform in order to manage the 3D printing work-flow more efficiently: from designing models to printing actual components. The REF’s Expeditionary Additive Module (ExAM), is developing a deployable structure set up with a range of 3D printers. The ExAM also gives operators access to a library of robots suitable for typical REF missions. Building complex prototypes such as TOSR and RAPTR with ExAM ensures all aspects of 3D printing (software, hardware), assembly (instructions, customisation) and testing (loads, environment,..) can be carried out smoothly on-site by non-specialists. The scope of this project will eventually increase to all types of 3D printed items.
While the current SAARP system is focused on disaster response personnel, this concept will be expanded to a range of customers, including law enforcement, military, universities, research facilities, and other government agencies.
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