Back to News CBC News   Markus Schwabe

Dec 15, 2019


Industry News

Former Sudbury mining executive invents robotic search and rescue tool

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Greg Baiden is a problem solver.

As a former mining executive in Sudbury, ON, he knows firsthand the dangers of underground mining and has dedicated his professional career to creating robots to make the mining industry safer.

Now Baiden’s company, Penguin Automated Systems Inc., is using that robotic expertise to develop a new tool for search and rescue.

It’s a tele-operated robot called Tele R-S & R, which can search continuously for 12 hours on land and water.

So far, Baiden has received interest from Sweden, the United States and South America for his robotic search and rescue tool that costs thousands of dollars. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)
Thermal cameras, scanners and loudspeakers can be used to search for a missing person on land.

Controlled remotely in a trailer, the robot houses an unmanned aerial vehicle to conduct aerial mapping.

It can also be navigated on the water and contains onboard sonar to look for wreckage underwater.

A tethered unmanned submarine with an air recovery balloon can be used to raise submerged items.

“We have a business that makes this stuff for profit…so this is one of those things where we can give back,” said Baiden.

His first foray into search and rescue was in 2012 after a shopping mall collapsed in Elliot Lake, ON, killing two people.

TIMELINEElliot Lake mall collapse: tracking the rescue effort
One of his mine mapping robots was utilized to collect data in rubble deemed too dangerous for people to scale.

Knowing his expertise in robotics, police approached Baiden again in 2016 after a fatal float plane crash in Fairbank Lake near Sudbury.

Pilot in float plane crash on Fairbank Lake in Greater Sudbury remains missing
In that case, Baiden came up empty-handed.

We didn’t have anything at the time,” he said. “But it’s one of those things that somebody asks you and then you kind of think about it. And this robot is now the culmination of a lot of that thinking.”

Though it hasn’t been used in an actual search yet, the Tele R-S & R, is ready to be called into action.

Baiden considers this first unit a public service, but would be willing to build more units if there’s a market.

So far he’s received interest from Sweden, the United States and South America.

Because of the sophisticated technology, each robot costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We wanted to get the idea out in front of the public to let them know that there’s people thinking about this and trying to help,” he said.

Mining robot built in Sudbury tested in Chilean mine
With files from Markus Schwabe