In the aftermath of an earthquake, every second counts. Researchers and engineers behind the Smart Emergency Response System (SERS) are developing technology to locate people quickly and help first responders save more lives. At the Smart America Expo, held in Washington DC this past June, electrical engineer Howard Chizeck of the University of Washington showed a system he's helped develop where one can log in to a Wi-Fi network in order to tele-operate a robot working in a dangerous environment. Surgeons can use the system to perform remote surgeries from thousands of miles away. Through a start-up supported by the National Science Foundation, researchers are adapting the technology to allow robots working underwater to turn off a valve at the base of an off-shore oil rig to prevent a major spill.