Navy unveils firefighting robot

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Washington D.C. — The United States Navy has unveiled a prototype of a two-legged robot capable of fighting fires.
The Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot, SAFFiR, was unveiled Wednesday at the Naval Future Force Science & Technology EXPO.

A collaboration between the Office of Naval Research and Virginia Tech, SAFFiR was tested between November 3-5, 2014 aboard the decommissioned USS Shadwell.

During the demonstrations, the firefighting robot was able to walk across uneven floors, use thermal imaging to identify overheated equipment and use a hose to extinguish a fire.

“We set out to build and demonstrate a humanoid capable of mobility aboard a ship, manipulating doors and fire hoses, and equipped with sensors to see and navigate through smoke,” said Dr. Thomas McKenna with the Officer of Naval Research.

“This robot, you’ll be able to send it into dangerous situations without having to send a sailor in there first,” explained Virginia Tech graduate assistant John Seminatore.

Sensors, including infrared and a rotating laser, allow the robot to see through dense smoke.

The plan calls for SAFFiR to take instructions from Sailors and “fire bosses” working remotely in the event of a fire in human-robot teams.