In 1999 northwestern Turkey was struck by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake which resulted in the deaths of over 45,000 people and leaving millions homeless. The disaster was compounded by a five-day communication breakdown among the local authorities making it difficult to assess ground conditions and to coordinate relief efforts.   Motivated to assist these types of rescue efforts, we have worked with the Istanbul Municipality and Microsoft to develop RobotTurk – a Disaster Emergency Video System.

RobotTurkRobotTurk is a prototype Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) equipped with a camera that is capable of streaming live video of disaster struck areas to ground command stations. The helicopter carries onboard an eBox compute-unit that runs Microsoft Robotics Studio, allowing the robot to execute specific command issued by ground statation or to auto-fly or safely land. The ground stations utilizes Windows Server 2008 Media Services that capture, process and streams video. The disaster coordination users utilizes Microsoft Virtual Earth as a mapping tool and Silverlight streaming to show the overlaid video on the maps.
Control Panel
With Microsoft Virtual Earth as the mapping tool, users can select a new destination, add a new mission, and track the helicopter’s current position on the map. Images of the site are streamed using Silverlight.

Streaming Panel

The Microsoft Virtual Earth map on the right shows the actual position of the robot as well as additional flight data. Hosted on Windows Server 2008, the Web site uses Silverlight to stream the incoming images.

We currently have a prototype and most of the ground station and automous flight tasks have been implemented. The high-level architecture of the system is as follows: