Thanks to the robo-wizards at Japan's BL Autotec, small form-factor rescue robots have a new trick up their sleeves — and yes, they could even have sleeves now — in the shape of a robotic arm that can open doors. To make it easier on operators, the arm's manipulator is equipped with a camera to spot door knobs and an LED for low-light situations.
The robot the arm is being tested on also can be worn like a backpack, making it easier to deploy. Considering it weighs a whopping 75 pounds, you may need a robot suit just to wear your robot, though.
While you'll find smaller manipulators on robots such as the ones that diffuse bombs, they are designed to operate low to the ground. Autotec's arm functions on a more human scale, and would be able to search for survivors behind doors, which typically represent an obstacle that, while humans have no trouble, 'bots do. It's the same with stairs. And elevators.
Autotec wants to sell the arm and the accompanying robotic platform, pictured above, for somewhere around $110,000, starting in 2013.