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US Navy robot SAFFiR will test fighting fires aboard ship

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SAFFiIR, the Shipboard Autonomous Fire-fighting Robot, built to withstand intense heat will be tested this summer by the US Navy, featured on the BBC this morning. Consider the level of difficulty in fighting a fire on board a Navy vessel. The Navy has spent the money to meet that challenge.

Due to the researchers from UCLA, the University of Pennsylvania and Virginia Tech, the robots will be able to handle fire-fighting equipment as do the humans. Picking up hoses, turning on water valves and shooting the water at the intense life-threatening flames will be the tasks tested this summer aboard a decommissioned amphibious landing ship called the ex-USS Shadwell. This ship has been the test ship for fires and suppression systems and is repeatedly set afire.

How will the robot withstand the heat? Engineers have developed a class of light-weight, high temperature polyeretherketone (PEEK)-like phthalonitrile-resin that can be molded to any shape and remain strong at temperatures up to 500 degrees Celsius, or 932 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Paul Cooper on ITProPortal.

If the high tech of the material is impressive, then the ability to enable the robots to stand is another issue. Stand up straight is the goal before movement. That research is done by Dr. Thomas McKenna, managing program officer, ONR Computational Neuroscience and Biorobotics program. He explains his research as it, ‘focuses on the integration of spatial orientation and the shipboard mobility capabilities of future shipboard robots.’

He adds, ‘the goal of this research is to develop the mutual interaction between a humanoid robotic firefighter and the rest of the firefighting team.’

Despite rough seas, the robot will be required to continue to meet the challenges through the anthropomorphic design. To remain standing under rolling and abrupt movements will be in the design.

One of the two robots stands 5 ft. tall and the second one a little taller. Both will be equipped with sensory output, so they will work, ‘in dark or smoke occluded and noisy environments found in shipboard firefighting conditions, tactile feedback—touch—is an important form of communication between human firefighters,’ said John Farley, project officer for the ex-USS Shadwell.

Google had purchased last December the military-robot maker company, Boston Dynamics. Now, it has been announced that Switzerland will host the first Cybathlon, an Olympics for bionic athletes, scheduled for 2016.

To find other articles related to the above topic view the list below in Author’s suggestions and the video atop this article with the robot from Google.

Twitter Victoria Wagner@victoriaross888

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