Urban search-and-rescue (USAR) involves the location, rescue (extrication), and initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in confined spaces. Structural collapse is most often the cause of victims being trapped, but victims may also be trapped in transportation accidents, mines and collapsed trenches. Some of the locations where the victims are located are dangerous and inaccessible for the rescue team. This is a huge challenge to the recue team members as they have to help everyone in danger but also be conscious of their own safety. A more feasible solution to this problem is allowing machines such as robots to be part of the rescue team. This idea gave rise to RoboCup-Rescue project. The trigger for the RoboCup-Rescue project was the Great Hanshi-Awaji earthquake which hit Kobe City on the 17th of January 1995 causing more than 6500 casualties, destroying more than 80,000 wooden houses and directly or indirectly affecting more than 1 million people. The damage of all infrastructures was evaluated at more than 1 billion US dollars.
The intention of the RoboCup Rescue project is to promote research and development in this socially significant domain at various levels involving multi-agent team work coordination, physical robotic agents for search and rescue, information infrastructures, personal digital assistants, a standard simulator and decision support systems, evaluation benchmarks for rescue strategies and robotic systems that are all integrated into a comprehensive system in future. Robots can assist human teams in USAR tasks by travelling into dangerous, small, wrecked and unfamiliar areas to search for victims. Robots need to climb on and maneuver around rubble piles that are deemed too dangerous or hazardous for human or animal searchers to investigate. In difficult USAR environments, it is not yet possible to create a fully independent robot to completely take the place of a human rescue worker. In fact, most USAR robots that are sent into disaster zones are teleoperated. For this application, operators must have a good awareness of their surroundings, yet it is difficult to obtain situation awareness. This means the operator has to be able to communicate with the robot efficiently. An efficient communication between the robot and the operator is made possible by a well-defined user interface.