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Firefighting Robots Ready to Fight

Machines have truly changed the way we live our lives. From something as small as a cellphone to something huge like an airplane, machines have made our lives much easier.

But what is the next step in technology? The answer is in the form of multiple robots that are being designed every day. From small robots that can help make you bread at home to complex ones like the new firefighting SAFFiR, robots are now ready to help make human life even easier.

Adult-Sized Robots Ready to Fight Fire:

Students at a Virginia Tech Robotics lab have designed and created a human-sized robot that is aimed to help the Navy sailors to fight fire while they’re at sea. This bot, named SAFFiR (Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot), has a height of 5 feet and 10 inches and stands on two legs like a human being would. It is designed to take on safety inspections on board of Navy ships, as well as patrol the ship for fire, and control the damage in case it detects one.

Multiple Image Sensors Help It Operate:

In order to be ready to fight fire, this firefighting robot operates by ‘looking’ at the world in three ways.

  • A dual lens stereo camera helps the robots see around it like a human.
  • It detects heat through a thermal imaging camera which also lets it see through smoke.
  • Using a laser range finder, the robot can determine how far away an object is from its own body.

Real-World Applications Shown in Demo:

A prototype of SAFFiR was shown off at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo held in Washington. The robot showed off its skills in a three-day long demonstration on board a decommissioned Navy ship in November, 2014.

SAFFiR was tasked with detecting the source of a fire after finding its way through a narrow and low-height corridor. The next step was to grab a hose and put out the flames, without so much as stopping. It was successful in doing this with the help of a control team back at Virginia Tech.

The makers of the robot were proud of their achievement and stated that this was the first time a real-world application has been demonstrated by a human-sized bot. The robot was tested for hundreds of hours prior to this final demo, and all that testing paid off.

Firefighting Robots to Assist, Not Replace:

The robots will be ready to fight fire alongside Navy firefighters instead of replacing them. They will help to keep the firefighters away from the heat and steam and will be controlled by the user rather than being autonomous. The people at Virginia Tech hope that their creation will one day be autonomous, but for now it is to remain user-operated.

There may soon come a day when robots are on board Navy ships, patrolling for unnatural heat and smoke and alerting the crew in case of a fire. SAFFiR is truly an innovation when it comes to robots having a practical use in the world and it may just lead to further inventions of its kind.

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