Robots are great for search and rescue. While at Simon Fraser University, I led a team called Nexus6 to build a mobile robot named Caprica (left). We built this mobile robot from a mini ITX computer, Hokuyo laser, webcam and iRobot Create (...and a Moogle!).
The robot searched for fiducials ('survivors') in an unknown environment using reactive potential field strategy for navigation and colour blob detection for recognition, as well as a "curiosity" level to explore new areas. Our approach won the highly coveted Technical Achievement award at the Richard Tapia competition in Florida :) Here's our poster from the competition.
Many thanks to our supervisor, Dr. Richard Vaughan, for his algorithm explanations, inspiring robot lectures, and providing lab space where we could both solder and eat cake!