Humanoid robot will fight shipboard fires

March 8, 2012 at 2:54 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they're developing a humanoid robot to fight fires aboard warships, moving autonomously to handle firefighting tasks usually done by humans.

Researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory have formed an interdisciplinary team to design a Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot to interact with humans and maneuver in the narrow passages and ladderways that are unique to a ship, an environment older, simpler robots have difficulty navigating.

The design brief includes sensor technology for advanced navigation, with cameras, gas sensor and a stereo infrared camera to enable it to see through smoke, an NRL release said Thursday.

The robot's upper body will be capable of manipulating fire suppressors, and like a sure-footed sailor the robot will be capable of walking in all directions, balancing in sea conditions, and traversing obstacles, the researchers said.

On-board batteries would power the robot for 30 minutes of firefighting.

Researchers from Virginia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania working with NRL on the project said they plan to test the firefighting robot in a realistic firefighting environment on board a former Navy ship in late September 2013.

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