Bots and drones help Italy's post-quake recovery

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Bots and drones help Italy's post-quake recovery
A robot surveys a quake-damaged church. Photo: Vigili Fuoco

With the last of the missing accounted for, emergency services have begun the task of rebuilding central Italy's damaged towns - with the help of high-tech drones and robots.


The robots have begun to carry out structural checks, reducing the need for people to go into unstable buildings.

Their job is to capture photos and video footage of the buildings, which can then be studied by experts to assess the extent of the damage. Following scans 3D models are created from the images, which will be used to secure the buildings.

A series of aftershocks and tremors - some reaching up to 5.0 on the Richter scale - in the days following the initial earthquake on August 24th have left the area geologically unstable and many buildings unsafe for entry, so the use of robots will speed up the recovery process without needing emergency services workers to put their own safety at risk.

The video below shows a drone investigation of the San Francesco and Sant'Agostino churches in Amatrice, the most severely damaged town. Just last year the town was voted one of Italy's most beautiful, and is known locally as the 'town of the hundred churches'.

The Church of Sant'Agostino built in the 15th century, lost around half its facade in the quake, and contains many historic works of art including 15th century paintings.

The robots have been provided by a European Commission-run project, Tradr (Long Term Human Robot Teaming for Robot Assisted Disaster Response) which is led by researchers from 20 European institutions, including Rome's La Sapienza university.

This is the first time Tradr's robots have been used successfully, following an initial test after the 2012 earthquake in Emilia-Romagna.

Robots provided by Tradr were also used to assist with rescue efforts in Amatrice and the other affected towns, helping to locate people trapped among the rubble.

The body of the final missing person, an Afghan man named Sayed, was recovered at the weekend.



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