RAPID: Extraction of Robot Use Cases for the Ebola Epidemic Grant uri icon


  • This project will work with national and international medical and disaster professionals to extract formal use cases for ground, aerial, and marine robots for medical response and humanitarian relief to the Ebola (and future) epidemics. A set of detailed use cases is urgently needed to meet the challenges posed by the epidemic and to prepare robotics for assisting with future epidemics. The robotics community cannot provide robots without understanding the needs and engineering mistakes or mismatches will both be financially costly and delay the delivery of effective solutions. This is a rare opportunity to work with responders as they plan for a deployment of more than 3,000 troops plus Centers for Disease Control workers, and a possibly greater number of volunteers through non-governmental organizations such as Doctors Without Borders. The project outcomes will allow robotics companies to confidently pre-position/re-position products and to incorporate the findings into R&D investment strategies. The categorization of problems will guide academia in future research and to use as motivating class projects. The effective use of robots will provide responders with tools for the short term and will provide achievable expectations of robotics technology in general.There is no comprehensive statement of the missions that robots can be used for during a medical event and general mission descriptions (e.g. we need a robot to transport bodies) do not capture the design constraints on a robot. Prior work has shown that not understanding the operational envelope, work domain, and culture results in overly expensive robots that cannot be adopted. Robotics has not been considered by health professionals for the entire space of a medical event (hospitals, field medicine, logistics, security from riots), nor has the disaster or medical robotics communities been engaged with epidemics. This project will provide the fundamental understanding of how robots can be used for medical disasters and will design a formal process for projecting robotics requirements. It will benefit safety security and rescue robotics by expanding research from meteorological, geological, and man-made disasters to medical disasters and surgical robotics and telerobotics by pushing the boundaries of how robots are used for biosafety event.

date/time interval

  • 2014 - 2015