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Navy to test firefighting robots

Navy to test firefighting robots

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Designed to address dangerous and costly fires aboard military ships, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) will be tested by the Navy in September 2013.

Image Credit: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Designed to address dangerous and costly fires that occur aboard military vessels, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) will be tested by the Navy in September 2013. If SAFFiR performs well on the ex-USS Shadwell, a fire test ship, he could make the seas safer for those who keep the seas safe.

Researchers at Virginia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania have teamed up with the Naval Research Laboratory to create a humanoid robot to fight fires aboard these ships, saving lives and reducing costs associated with damage. SAFFiR's battery allows it to fight fires for up to 30 minutes, performing its duties using Propelled Extinguishing Agent Technology (PEAT) grenades that it throws to extinguish flames. The robot will be quick and nimble, able to move freely throughout the ship allowing it to hop over obstacles and assume responsibility for fire-fighting duties that have previously been reserved for humans. SAFFiR comes equipped with sensor technology comprising a camera, gas sensor and thermal infrared stereo camera that will help it navigate through a smoke-filled ship.

Though the robot will have "autonomous mobility" and the ability to make decisions, it will also be able to respond to a team of humans, through multimodal interaction technology that lets SAFFiR interpret gestures, identify where the human team leader focuses attention, and perhaps even understand language communication as well.

[via Mashable, NRL, MSNBC]

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Jenny Wilson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Jenny Wilson is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. She has written for Time.com and Swimming World Magazine and served stints at The American Prospect and The Atlantic Monthly magazines. She is currently pursuing a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure