Battlefield casualties set for triage by robot

Wounded soldiers could soon be triaged on the battlefield via a remotely operated robotic system being developed at Sheffield University.


Set for a live, indoor demonstration in Spring 2023, the project is being carried out by researchers from Sheffield University’s Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

The robot will use GPS to find the casualty and then acquire data - including blood pressure, pulse readings and temperature – plus samples of blood and mouth swabs.

This will be possible thanks to photos and videos relayed back to a medic via a 5G connection who will use a commercial VR headset to observe the scene in 3D and control the robot.

Professor Sanja Dogramadzi from Sheffield University’s Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, told The Engineer that the project is using a commercial UGV (unmanned ground vehicle) that can traverse relatively rough terrain and will be fitted with equipment including a 360o camera plus smaller cameras attached to two robotic arms.

Professor Dogramadzi explained that a custom-built gripper will be attached to one of the arms so that it can handle smaller objects with more dexterity.


“We are only concerned about how well we can keep the objects, manipulate them, hold them in a stable way, [and] have haptic feedback in the grippers so that we can understand how much we are gripping, grasping, palpating and so on,” she said. “We are focusing…on the manipulation, dexterity, tele-operations, [and] the user interfaces.”

The AMRC are leading the Medical Telexistence Platform (MediTel) development.

David King, head of Digital Design at Sheffield University AMRC, said: “MediTel will reduce the risk to medical personnel by limiting their exposure to potential hazards while providing an improved chance of survival for the casualty.

“The MediTel system will be trialled in a realistic scenario and demonstrate the potential of the technology to save lives in the future.”

Partners and suppliers in the project - funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority through the Defence and Security Accelerator - include I3DRobotics and emergency medicine clinical consultants.