2016-09-01 TRADR team mission in Amatrice

Mission in the earthquake damaged Amatrice briefly

The Italian town Amatrice with a population of 2640 was almost totally devastated by the earthquake that hit on August 24, 2016 v 3:56 a.m. Sadly, 232 people died there [1]. Rescue efforts are lead by the Italian fire fighters (Vigili del Fuoco), which is also one of the twelve partners of our EU project TRADR. The two side-by-side pictures below provide an idea of the damage, showing the Amatrice main street, Corso Umberto I, before (left) and after (right) the earthquake. Click on each picture for more detailed view.


The TRADR project develops methods and technologies to make it possible for teams of humans and robots to work together. One of the TRADR tasks is to provide information about places inaccessible to humans in urban search and rescue missions. Mobile robots (UGVs) and drones (UAVs) are used for this purpose.

After the first “hot” phase of seeking human victims was finished in Amatrice, Vigili del Fuoco requested the assistance of TRADR  to help assess the degree of damage to cultural heritage on Thursday September 1 2016. The focus would be on two churches St. Francesco a St. Agostino.

The TRADR coordinator got the request for assistance on Tuesday August 30 in the morning. Within 48 hours, the TRADR partners had to prepare the project robots, software, auxiliary materials and transport it to Amatrice.

Martin Pecka and Libor Wagner from ČVUT team prepared their mobile robot. Václav Hlaváč started by car with the robot from Prague early in the morning, loaded Vladimír Kubelka on the way in München, where he was at the drone piloting training. The 1300 kilometers journey finished in the evening in a hotel 62 kilometres from Amatrice. The ten people TRADR team met there. In total the team had two mobile robots (the second one from La Sapienza University Rome), two bigger “Falcon” drones (Ascending Technologies München) and one smaller “DJI Phantom 5” drone (La Sapienza University Rome, piloted by Fraunhofer Institute, Sankt Augustin). On Thursday September 1, the team with all equipment moved in own cars to the deployment site. The team first surveyed the San Francesco church. Two mobile robots (UGVs) cooperated there. They drove into the church through a small opening on the church side, and explored the inside of the church out of line-of-sight of the operators. One drone flew in using the circular opening on the front church facade. This drone provided an overview of the environment, to further guide the UGV operators. The second church Sant Agostino was inspected in the afternoon. The mobile robots were unable to drive into this church. They mapped the exterior. Meanwhile, the smaller Phantom drone flew into the church using the opening created by the partly collapsed roof. The two Falcon drones were used to provide the Phantom pilot with the necessary visual feedback, while he explored the inside of the church (out of line-of-sight).

The TRADR mission in Amatrice was assessed as a highly successful one. The Italian firefighters ensured safe conditions for the TRADR team. Useful data were captured, and are now being processed and handed over to the Italian fire fighters gradually. The processed results pass to other interested bodies, including the Ministry of Culture. The data and field experiences are also very valuable for the TRADR research/development. The ČVUT team with all its equipment returned safely to Prague on Friday September 2, 2016 in the late evening.


If more information is needed, contact Václav Hlaváč, vasek.hlavac@cvut.cz


View at the damaged vicinity of St. Francesco church.

The damaged St. Francesco church, which we surveyed.

The mission management on the spot.

The TRADR command post and the related equipment.

Roma UGV taken out of the transport box.

Bazilica St. Francesco, description in front of it.

Two UGVs in action.

Vladimír Kubelka controls UGVs.

UAV flying into the church through the circular openning.

Controlling the UAV. Shielding the screen against the sun.

Inspected damaged St. Agostino Church.

St. Agostino church, the description.

Two UGVs and two UAVs in the action simultaneously.

Vladimír Kubelka at the command post by St. Agostino.

Flying into the church. Three cooperating UAVs needed. The red-circled UAV flies in using view of the yellow-circled UAV. The third UAV provided this view.

The TRADR coordinator Ivana Kruijff-Korbayová commanding her team. Vladimimír Kubelka on the left side, Erik Zimmermann on the right side.

The TRADR team with the equipment. From the left: Mario Gianni, Valsamis Ntouskos, Wolfgang Rottner, Ivana Kruijff-Korbayová, Hartmuth Surmann, Krešimir Dilic, policeman Luigi Ugliano, fire fighter ??, Václav Hlaváč. Kneeing from the left: Vladimír Kubelka, Luigi Freda, Erik Zimmermann.

The TRADR team with the mission commander Emanuelle Gissi (stays to the right of the TRADR coordinator Ivana Kruijff-Korbayova, the only lady).


  • The TRADR Amatrice mission and TRADR advanced technologies were highly appreciated (a) By the Italian fire brigade as a practical application of EU funded academic project in real mission; (b) By the Italian Ministry of Culture for the videos and 3D measurements from interiors two ancient churches; (c) Wide coverage and appreciation by the Italian and international press/media.
  • The TRADR team was able to prepare for the mission in 36 hours. Logistics involved one car with UGV from Prague (1300 km), one minibus from Münich with two drones (950 km), two cars from Rome with one UGV, one UAV (170 km); Two persons flying to Rome, one from Saarbrücken (TRADR project coorinator Ivana Kruijff-Korbayova), second from Bonn.
  • It was proven in practice that drones are very useful in inspecting interiors of buildings, which are not accessible from the ground even if they are out of pilots line of sight. The multi-robot cooperation was successful (several drones in San Agostino case, 2 UGVs – one drone cooperation in San Francesco case). See selected videos below.
  • The results, videos and 3D models calculated from drones flights, videos and 3D data from UGVs were provided to Italian authorities on-line as they were processed in three days after the mission. We show here as the example a short look to a 3D models calculated from San Francisco, San Antonio churches exteriors as a short videos.
  • TRADR technology for data capturing involving multiple modalities (drones, UGVs) in human-controlled mode is ready to deploy and useful.
  • TRADR technology exploring more autonomy of involved robots, on-line higher-level interpretation of the observed situation and using it for a unified mission control was not used in Amatrice mission. However, the technology was tested successfully in TRADR Joint Exercise in Prague in July 2016. the readiness to employing the technology in a real mission as in Amatrice needs further efforts.

Selected videos from the mission


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Central_Italy_earthquake
  2. Youtube channel of the TRADR project with further videos

Responsible: Václav Hlaváč