Blacksburg Company Designs Robot to Help Save Lives - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Blacksburg Company Designs Robot to Help Save Lives

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A 6'3" and 330 pounds, this humanoid robot may be the answer to protecting and saving people during disasters.

Jesse Hurdus is the project manager at TORC Robotics in Blacksburg. TORC is one of seven companies in the country competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge through the Department of Defense.

The idea is to develop software that will allow a robot to complete tasks that are too dangerous for humans.

"This isn't going to replace the existing first responders," Hurdus says. "It will be another tool to allow them to get to places they couldn't get to before."

The robot is also designed to use tools, move over rough terrain, and remove difficult debris. They also hope to get the robot to drive a rescue vehicle.

"This is cutting edge research," says David Conner, TORC senior research scientist. "It's an extremely selective group of people getting to work on this hardware and it's one of the most challenging applications of robotics."

The robot is also giving Virginia Tech students and graduates the chance to work with complex software.

"It's been really educational," Virginia Tech graduate and new TORC employee Benjamin Waxler says. "I've been really excited working on this cool project and the people here are so smart and good at their job and it's been a great learning experience."