US Navy’s firefighting robotic lastly seems (with a trusty sidekick)

US Navy's firefighting robot finally appears (with a trusty sidekick)

SAFFiR, the humanoid firefighting robotic that the US Navy and Virginia Tech engineers have been creating for years, is now greater than only a blueprint. In truth, the army division has already demonstrated what the biped can do aboard considered one of its decommissioned ships. Throughout a collection of checks carried out in November 2014, it labored properly sufficient to navigate uneven flooring (extraordinarily troublesome for humanoid machines), determine gear utilizing thermal imaging and deal with a hose to place out small fires. The Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robotic did want a little bit of assist from a sidekick, although. No, not the firefighting snakebot Anna Konda (which is unlucky, should you assume they’re the right pair), however a small drone created by Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute.

That drone is an autonomous quadcopter referred to as Injury Management Applied sciences for the twenty first Century (DC-21) designed to be smaller than business fashions hobbyists should buy, so it could actually slot in tight entrances. It makes use of infrared to detect fires, depth cameras just like Kinect’s to map out places, and it clearly has the potential to speak, because it was made to relay these knowledge to SAFFiR. Since it is so small, the battery that may slot in it solely lasts for five minutes. Its creators are planning to construct a model with two giant propellers as an alternative of 4 small ones, although — that method, its energy supply can final for as much as half-hour.

As for SAFFiR itself, nicely, seems like a goofier, much less terrifying model of DARPA’s Atlas. It stands at 5-ft-10-inches and weighs 143 kilos, outfitted with infrared and a rotating mild detection and ranging (LIDAR) laser to have the ability to make its means by means of dense smoke. It apparently has the potential to carry out duties autonomously, however because the aim is for individuals and robots to work collectively within the face of hazard and to not substitute the sailors, it was designed to take orders from a human controller.

Regardless of performing nicely through the demo final yr, that does not imply SAFFiR’s able to be deployed. It nonetheless must be tethered to remain upright in its present state, and it is simply a lot too sluggish to be a primary responder. Plus, the present mannequin isn’t water- and hearth-proof, which seems like a recipe for catastrophe because it’s firefighting robotic on a ship. That is why the Navy plans to fee a extra superior design with “enhanced intelligence, communications capabilities, velocity, computing energy and battery life for prolonged purposes.” Additionally, SAFFiR will probably be fitted with extra sensors to be able to carry out mundane duties and unencumber sailors to perform extra difficult ones.

[Image credit: US Navy/John F. Williams/Released]

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