Creating a Computer-Based, Collapsed Structure Rescue Training Simulator

Whenever a major earthquake occurs, there are inevitably buildings that collapse, often trapping people inside. A natural impulse is to rescue them, yet worldwide statistics indicate that for every person rescued from a collapsed structure, a rescuer dies in the attempt. Ideally, collapsed structure rescue training should be given to a broad range of emergency response personnel, in addition to the search-and-rescue robots being developing through CITRIS and other organizations. In the United States, there are only two collapsed structure training facilities (one is at the NASA Ames Research Center in California) capable of training just a few hundred people a year.

With CITRIS, UC Santa Cruz computer science professors Michael Mateas and Jim Whitehead and their colleagues are creating a computer-based, collapsed structure rescue training simulator. The training simulation, developed using a high-end 3D game engine, will help expose rescue workers to the types of situations they are likely to encounter in real-world collapsed structure rescue situations. Key goals of the project include creating a realistic simulation of the conditions experienced by rescue workers, and a technique for procedural generation of rescue scenarios to create an infinite number of unique rescue situations.