Tags: US Navy | robot | fire-fighting | prototype

US Navy Unveils Fire-Fighting Robot Prototype

By    |   Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 03:06 PM

After nearly four years in development, the U.S. Navy recently unveiled a humanoid robot prototype that would be able to fight fires, reports Discover Magazine.

The Shipboard Autonomous Fire-Fighting Robot, or SAFFiR, was shown to the public for the first time at last week's Naval Future Force Science & Technology Expo, and while it is only in the early stages of testing, it marks a major breakthrough in robotic technology.

"That may sound like a very simple thing to us as humans, but to a robot that is incredibly difficult. Robots are very good at things people are bad at. I can make a robot that is very strong very easily. But it is the simple things that humans do that robots have trouble with," John Seminatore, a graduate researcher in Virginia Tech's Terrestrial Robotics Engineering and Controls laboratory, told the Navy Times.

While robots may have trouble with simple things, this robot, which stands at 5-foot, 10-inches, and weighs 143-pounds, has capabilities that humans do not, including onboard sensors and infrared which permit it to detect its target in areas engulfed in smoke and fire.

While it has the ability to take steps and handle hoses on its own, the robot still requires direction from researchers using remote control.

"The robot has the ability to do autonomous tasks, but we have a human in the loop to allow an operator to intervene in any type of task that the robot's doing. Whole-body momentum control allows for the robot to optimize the locations of all of its joints so that it maintains its center of mass on uncertain and unstable surfaces," Brian Lattimer, associate professor for mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, told Tammy White of the Office of Naval Research Public Affairs.

Most importantly, says John Farley of the Naval Research Laboratory, the robot can reduce the danger to those onboard ships.

"Sometimes it’s hard to keep the sailors up to the latest as far as training is concerned. Sometimes they could create an environment and make it worse. Now, the robot could be trained and constantly updated to make sure that conditions are not as bad as what a human could make it," Farley told The Washington Free Beacon.

The robot will serve to supplement fire suppression efforts and humans will continue to serve as damage controlmen, and can navigate environments that have higher temperatures than humans can withstand, according to The Navy Times.

Last December, the Navy demonstrated another use for robots, in this case for national security purposes, reported The Virginian-Pilot. Developed as part of Project Silent Nemo, the Navy said it was nearing the finishing stages of a robotic fish that resembles a bluefin tuna, is controlled by a joystick and would be used to either protect ships or to perform surveillance on enemy boats.

"This is an attempt to take thousands of years of evolution — what has been perfected since the dawn of time — and try to incorporate that into a mechanical device," said Jerry Lademan, the project's leader.

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After nearly four years in development, the U.S. Navy recently unveiled a humanoid robot prototype that would be able to fight fires, reports Discover Magazine.
US Navy, robot, fire-fighting, prototype
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2015-06-11
Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 03:06 PM
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