Here’s the scenario: Police receive a tip about a bomb threat in a nearby neighborhood. The neighborhood was evacuated, and now it’s time for the bomb squad to investigate. One tool the squad relies on is a robot designed to locate, neutralize, move, and dispose of the bomb.
This happens almost every day somewhere in the country, so the Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue event offered by SkillsUSAgives high school and college students the real-life hurdle creating a mobile robot that can navigate and remove explosive materials or ordnances in a simulated environment. Each robot is built by a two-member team, and the teams are judged on five different elements, not just their performance on a timed course.The purpose behind the challenge is clear. The demand for designers, skilled technicians, and manufacturing workers who are fluent in mechanical design and electrical systems and highly skilled in troubleshooting and maintenance of robotic systems is projected to grow. The current generation of students is expected to take artificial intelligence and robotics into the evolving world of emergency services, finding new ways to help trained personnel react more quickly and effectively. It is vital that our future labor force be on the leading edge of current and emerging technologies and possess the technical and team skills necessary to design, manufacture, maintain, and operate this life-saving robotic equipment.