Search and Rescue Robots

Their mission - to explore dangerous environments, to seek out life, and to boldly go where no ‘bot has gone before.

Every year millions of people are affected by natural disasters. Government agencies, corporations, and aid organizations are all working to find new ways to minimize the effects of these tragedies; one relatively new tool in their arsenal is the SAR (Search and Rescue) Robot.

A recent article released by Tech Emergence discusses the increasing use of robot assisted search and Rescue (SAR), and the benefits for various types of disaster response.  As they describe, the Crystal Cam Delta crawlers (formerly known as the VGTV) were some of the first robotic systems to ever be used for Urban search and rescue (USAR) applications.  Immediately after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, these robots were deployed in the remains of Towers 1 and 2, and Building 4.  Unlike other robots being used on site, the Delta crawlers were small enough to travel into the extremely confined spaces in the rubble pile while searching for survivors and victims.  The system proved invaluable – allowing the USAR personal to provide targets for heavy equipment operators to remove debris in the search for larger voids where survivors and victims could be located.  The Center for Robot Assisted Search and Rescue ( personnel described the Delta robots as “the workhorses of the WTC Disaster”

The Crystal Cam Delta Robots provide numerous benefits for disaster response:

  • Small size and portability
    • - Access areas where dogs and human can’t go
    • - Man-portable
    • - Easily transportable
  • Safety
    • - No risk of life; no need for people to enter unsafe areas before establishing the
    • - Presence of survivors or victims
  • More than just search
    • - Can be used to focus or direct heavy equipment and/or canine operation
    • - Valuable for structural integrity assessment prior to manned entry
  • Almost unlimited access to dangerous environments
    • - Underwater
    • - Radioactive areas
    • - Hazardous chemical spills
  • A range of options –systems can include bi-directional audio for communication with survivors, or a variety of other sensors (Chemical, Radiation, Thermal, etc.)


Brian Minten of American Standard Robotics inserts a VGTV-Xtreme robot equipped with a OceanOptics spectrometer into a simulated confined space man-hole to determine the nature of chemical hazards reported.

To learn more about the Delta crawlers, check out this video by Dr. Mark Micire, this article in Time Magazine. or visit our website at

Since 9/11, the Delta systems have proven their value in multiple emergencies, including hurricanes, mudslides, and earthquakes.  USAR teams around the world can realize significant benefits from having a search and rescue robot in their toolkit.  When a disaster happens, it’s too late to go looking for the best solution – so contact us today to learn more about the versatile and powerful Delta crawler systems, and how they can be used for a wide range of disaster situations. 

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