Student wins award for search and rescue robot

Poole based Transmission Developments (Transdev) has helped a student to win a top prize at the recently held finals of the National Science and Engineering Competition for his novel and low cost, search and rescue robot.

Andrew Cowan from Sutton Grammar School, Surrey, has created a robot using Transdev's BRECOflex ATK10 series timing belts with Linatex high grip bonded backings and matching pulleys. These provide the robot's traction which has been thoroughly tested by towing a car during field trials.

The radio controlled robot won the Engineering Technology prize in the intermediate 15 – 16 year age category with competition from 190 projects amongst 346 UK-wide competitors. Cowan's design brief was to produce a cheaper alternative to existing search and rescue robots built for bomb disposal work, which are too expensive for users such as local fire and rescue service.

The robot's equipment complement includes sensors to detect oxygen levels and flammable gases and a special camera system with infrared and normal LED lighting to help locate victims, even in the dark. In addition an ultrasonic radar system traces a 2D map of the immediate area and the vehicle is equipped with a towing hook to remove large objects such as rubble from the disaster zone.

Transdev worked with Andrew Cowan and teaching staff at the school as a project sponsor, providing applications knowledge as well as the belting and pulley components. The simplicity of using timing belts with bonded high friction backings proved a low cost and effective solution for the robot's traction.

Andrew's success in the competition has resulted in his selection to represent the UK in the European Union Contest for Young Scientists that is taking place in Lisbon for five days in September.

Chris Shaw

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