LCSR Seminar: Robin Murphy “From the World Trade Center to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Robots and Disasters”

April 7, 2021 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Ashley Moriarty

Link for Live Seminar

Link for Recorded seminars – 2020/2021 school year



This talk will describe how ground, aerial, and marine robots have been used in disasters, most recently the coronavirus pandemic. During the pandemic so far, 338 instances of robots in 48 countries protecting healthcare workers from unnecessary exposure, handling the surge in demand for clinical care, preventing infections, restoring economic activity, and maintaining individual quality of life have been reported.  The uses span six sociotechnical work domains and 29 different use cases representing different missions, robot work envelopes, and human-robot interaction dyads.  The dataset also confirms a model of adoption of robotics technology for disasters. Adoption favors robots that maximize the suitability for established use cases while minimizing risk of malfunction, hidden workload costs, or unintended consequences as measured by the NASA Technical Readiness Assessment metrics. Regulations do not present a major barrier but availability, either in terms of inventory or prohibitively high costs, does.  The model suggests that in order to be prepared for future events, roboticists should partner with responders now, investigate how to rapidly manufacture complex, reliable robots on demand, and conduct fundamental research on predicting and mitigating risk in extreme or novel environments.\



Dr. Robin R. Murphy is the Raytheon Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, a TED speaker, and an IEEE and ACM Fellow. She helped create the fields of disaster robotics and human-robot interaction, deploying robots to 29 disasters in five countries including the 9/11 World Trade Center, Fukushima, the Syrian boat refugee crisis, Hurricane Harvey, and the Kilauea volcanic eruption. Murphy’s contributions to robotics have been recognized with the ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions, a US Air Force Exemplary Civilian Service Award medal, the AUVSI Foundation’s Al Aube Award, and the Motohiro Kisoi Award for Rescue Engineering Education (Japan). She has written the best-selling textbook Introduction to AI Robotics (2nd edition 2019) and the award-winning Disaster Robotics (2014), plus serving an editor for the science fiction/science fact focus series for the journal Science Robotics. She co-chaired the White House OSTP and NSF workshops on robotics for infectious diseases and recently co-chaired the National Academy of Engineering/Computing Community Consortium workshop on robots for COVID-19.


Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University, Whiting School of Engineering

3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-2608

Laboratory for Computational Sensing + Robotics