Beetle : Earthquake Rescue Unit

"When NO is not an option"

The Project in one sentence:

A "power suit" style earthquake response rescue unit meant to arrive onsite ignoring road conditions and tunnel under collapsed spaces leaving an exit trail behind.

Project Cyborg

This project focuses on using biomimicry to designing a "cyborg" to solve an existing problem. In this case, I chose to design earthquake. I have been trough the time of "Wenchuan" earthquake of China, and I deeply understand that is a place where the term "manpower" can feel so powerless.


During earthquakes, rescuer wrestle with both with time and nature. Most difficult problems rescuers face is the lack of heavy machinery in earthquake sites where heavy machinery could not arrive at site quickly. And also the risk of secondary shocks may trap rescuers when weak buildings collapses.


The rescue unit locates the trapped individual(s) and tunnels slowly towards them, leaving "staples" behind it when needed to secure the tunnel. 

Details of the project

Rhinoceros Beetle

The strongest animal on earth. The rhinoceros beetle has one of the most efficient skeleton structure that allows it to lift 100x its own body weight while using normal muscles like humans. It only needs to work twice as hard to lift three times its own body weight.

Image credit : emma black 


Using the form of the beetle, I designed a rescue unit that a trained rescuer can operate to get to trapped persons. Once the rescue unit located the trapped persons, it can undergo two operations. If the space is stable enough and the trapped persons are in movable conditions, the tunnel left behind can be used to bring the victims to the surface. If the trapped person is injured and cannot move, the injured personal can be tied on the bottom of the unit; and the unit can “crawl” out of the rubbels carrying the person.

If the space is too fragile to enter, the unit carry relief materials that can be passed to the trapped people. With clean water, a person can live for 6 weeks, but without water a person can only live for 6 days. So the Rescue unit is also inbuilt with a water tank that holds 40 L of water.

The unit is meant to create a safety passage for those trapped, and also protect the operator from secondary damage to minimize the persons stranded. 

Process work

Beetle : Earthquake Rescue Unit

"When NO is not an option"

Designers are Answers
- Howeson Lu-

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