HazBot: Development of a telemanipulator robot with haptics for emergency response


  • Jacob C. Jurmain
  • Andrew J. Blancero
  • James A. Geiling, MD
  • Andrew Bennett, PhD
  • Chris Jones, PhD
  • Jeff Berkley, PhD
  • Marc Vollenweider, PhD
  • Margaret Minsky, PhD
  • Jon C. Bowersox, MD, PhD
  • Joseph M. Rosen, MD




haptics, hazmat, robotics, remote manipulation, teleoperation, telepresence, hazardous materials, explosive ordinance device, EOD, emergency response


Objectives: To design a remotely operated robot, “HazBot,” for bioevent disaster response; specifically, to improve existing commercial robots’ capabilities in handling fixed-facility hazmat incidents via a unique robot controller that allows the human operator to easily manipulate HazBot in disaster situations.
Design: The HazBot’s design objectives were for a robot to approach a building, open doors, enter, and navigate the building. The robot’s controlling device was designed to provide features not available in current robots: dexterous manipulation and enhanced sensory (touch) feedback via “haptic” technology. The design included a companion simulator to train operators on HazBot.
Results: The HazBot met its design goals to do several hazmat-related tasks in place of a human operator: to enter and navigate a building, passing debris and doors as necessary. HazBot’s controller reduced the time for inexperienced users of manipulator robots to complete a door-opening task by 55 percent. HazBot overcame previous problems in operator control of robots, via its dexterous manipulation feature, its partially implemented haptic touch feedback, and via its companion simulator.
Conclusions: The HazBot system demonstrates superior capability over existing robots: it is technically sophisticated, yet moderately priced; it has dexterous manipulation to make operator tasks easier, haptic feedback, and an excellent companion simulator. HazBot is optimized for hazmat cleanups; is mobile and scaleable; can serve in multiple environments and uncontrolled conditions; and is optimal for disaster situations. It could potentially be used in other disaster situations to deliver medicine to isolated patients, evaluate such patients, assess a downed fire fighter, etc.

Author Biographies

Jacob C. Jurmain

Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.

Andrew J. Blancero

Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.

James A. Geiling, MD

Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire; VA Medical Center, White River Junction, Vermont. (The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs.)

Andrew Bennett, PhD

Scientific Systems Company, Inc., Woburn Massachusetts.

Chris Jones, PhD

iRobot Corporation, Burlington, Massachusetts.

Jeff Berkley, PhD

Mimic Technologies, Seattle, Washington.

Marc Vollenweider, PhD

Mimic Technologies, Seattle, Washington.

Margaret Minsky, PhD

Consultant, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Jon C. Bowersox, MD, PhD

Department of Surgery, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Joseph M. Rosen, MD

Department of Surgery, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire; Dartmouth Thayer School of Engineering, Hanover, New Hampshire.


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How to Cite

Jurmain, J. C., A. J. Blancero, J. A. Geiling, MD, A. Bennett, PhD, C. Jones, PhD, J. Berkley, PhD, M. Vollenweider, PhD, M. Minsky, PhD, J. C. Bowersox, MD, PhD, and J. M. Rosen, MD. “HazBot: Development of a Telemanipulator Robot With Haptics for Emergency Response”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 3, no. 2, Mar. 2008, pp. 87-97, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2008.0012.