A Segway-like robot has joined the list of devices developed to assist firefighters. Researchers at the University of California-San Diego designed the semi-autonomous Firefighting Robot (FFR) to map the interiors of residential and commercial buildings and take temperature readings to give firefighters a clearer picture of a fire before they enter a burning building.
The robot rides on two wheels. Its stem reaches a few feet high and carries two stereo cameras and other sensors, allowing it to record thermal data and map it on to a 3D scene constructed from images taken by the cameras.
Researchers at the University of California-San Diego have developed a Segway-like autonomous robot that can act as a scout for firefighters in commercial and residential blazes. (Source: University of California-San Diego)
Thomas Bewley, a professor at UCSD and director of its Coordinated Robotics Lab, told us in an email that inexpensive COTS mobile phone cameras give the robot stereo vision. Tamarisk 320 infrared imagers from DRS Technologies record the thermal data. Researchers used a simple, three-motor design to give the robot mobility. Two motors power the main drive wheels for driving and steering in a "Segway-like manner." The third motor lifts the body to overcome obstacles "in what is perhaps best described as an inverse-Slinky-type maneuver."
Researchers plan to equip the robot to analyze gases and other compounds at a fire. "We are also collaborating with UCSD Professor Deli Wang in the development and use of a unique and ingenious electronic nose, built from carbon nanotubes, which can detect and quantify O2, CO2, CO, unburnt hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds in the atmosphere as the vehicle moves throughout the structure."
Bewley and his team are working with San Diego firefighters and ATA Engineering to ensure the FFR's thermal and mechanical robustness. Daniel Yang, another member of the research team, told us the collaboration with ATA has provided the team with analysis of the material needed to protect the robot in a burning environment. "Our thermal analysis showed that a two-centimeter-thick composite aralite thermal shield could protect the robot in a room with a three-by-three-meter fire and keep the internal temperature at 61C after three minutes."
Bewley said that, once funding for the project is secured, the FFR could come to market within five years.
Definitely I think this could also be a good application for search and rescue, too, jmiller. The military has been working on similar type robots, though not Segway-scooter style. But I think this is quite a practical approach and a good use of that design form, which I think personally is quite silly as a mode of transport for people.
Its really very nice and interesting to watch robots helping humans. Idea is very innovative and thought provoking this robot can give a clear image of what is happening inside the burning building and with this information fire brigade people can take precautionary measures . This is a very big help for fire brigade people.
Its nice to see a segway robot contributing to the society other than transport uses. Quite an innovative idea, although i cannot see the video due to some reason, but i do hope the speed and control of this semi autonomus robot is fast and robust, because even a small amount of lag or delay might be fatal for citizens.
The robot is fascinating, and the video demonstrates some impressive software (the 3D pont cloud was amazing), but I frankly did not understand the final segment of it. The robot runs into a wall, falls over, and explodes? Kinda defeated the message up to that point.
With a better understanding of materials’ response to load and temperature, researchers could potentially use the knowledge to improve design. The research could even help geologists studying plate tectonics.
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