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Navy developing humanoid robot

March 9, 2012 at 6:33 AM

WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy reports it is developing an autonomous, humanoid robot for fighting fires aboard ships.

Called the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot will be able to maneuver within a vessel's confined spaces as well as on ladder ways and interact with personnel.

An interdisciplinary team from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is in charge of the device's development.

"The robot is designed with enhanced multi-modal sensor technology for advanced navigation and a sensor suite that includes a camera, gas sensor and stereo IR camera to enable it to see through smoke," NRL said. "Its upper body will be capable of manipulating fire suppressors and throwing propelled extinguishing agent technology grenades.

"It is battery-powered that holds enough energy for 30 minutes of firefighting. Like a sure-footed sailor, the robot will also be capable of walking in all directions, balancing in sea conditions and traversing obstacles. "

The laboratory said algorithms are being developed to give SAFFiR autonomous mobility and decision making capability as a "team member." Capabilities will include the ability to understand and respond to human gestures.

Language may also be incorporated, as well as other modes of communication and supervision.

Working with the NRL on the robot's development are researchers from Virginia Tech University and the University of Pennsylvania.

A test of the firefighting robot in a realistic firefighting environment onboard the ex-USS Shadwell is slated for September of next year.

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