US Navy to test fire fighting, seafaring robots in the summer

By Curious

US Navy has revealed plans for testing a pair of anthropomorphic fire fighting robots. The test will be held in the summer aboard a decommissioned amphibious landing ship. The US Navy’s Office of Naval Research has prepared the test of robots in an effort to improve the ability of the Navy to fight fires overcoming the human flesh's limitations. 

The robots are Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR). They were designed by UCLA (University of Pennsylvania) researchers and Virginia Tech

Fighting fires within enclosed ship's space stretches the endurance of the human firefighter. The spaces are very warm, filled with toxic smoke and fumes released from oil, paint or electrical wiring. The common Oxygen Breathing Apparatus (OBA) gear is usually damaged after some 15 minutes.There are a lot of examples on how a relatively minor fire can quickly get out of control. The submarine USS Miami was deactivated and scrapped after it suffered damage for $700 million following a deliberate fire aboard caused by a contractor who wanted to get off work for the day in the shipyards.

The Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) will be equipped as a human firefighter. SAFFiR bots are designed to deal with the same challenges set by the Robotics Challenge of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The idea is developing anthropomorphic robots which can deal with disasters where people can't get (like the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plantdisaster) using their general-purpose tools. 

SAFFiR will have to be able to work in a dark, metal box pitching and rolling with the waves. They will have to work side by side with humans, to respond to gestures and commands.