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bobjengr
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Platinum
Humanoid Robot Fights Fires on Ships
bobjengr   6/20/2012 6:36:30 PM
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 I think this is a fascinating use of robotic systems.  Well done Debora.  I do have one or two questions, as follows:

  • Are temperature sensors embedded into the superstructure that tell the operator (controller) when to pull the robot back?   When to retreat?  From the JPEG, it appears the wiring harnesses are exposed and certainly could be affected by heat.  I am sure other parts of the system have thermal limits of acceptability that must be addressed also. 
  • I may have missed it but, are there light systems on the robot structure that can "cut through the smoke" to illuminate a path?
  • Are magnetic "shoes" used to steady performance when the robot "walks"?  Of course those would be useless without a metal deck or flooring but could come in very handy on-board a Navy vessel.
  • I am assuming the system cannot climb stairs?  Is that correct?

This is obviously a work in progress but definitely fascinating.  The article is well done.

Swanny
User Rank
Iron
Re: Bang for the Buck ?
Swanny   6/7/2012 4:22:44 PM
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Of course depending upon the cost per robot, you could 'station' one at each of its usable areas thus avoiding the various ladders and obstacles that would preclude it from access.

Mydesign
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Bang for the Buck ?
Mydesign   6/7/2012 7:51:38 AM
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1 saves
Notarboca, yes some sort of human interactions are required. Robots are programmable devices and it can only perform according to the keying or in built instructions. I mean logical thinking is very less, so under certain conditions, we have to control it from external.

GuidoBee
User Rank
Iron
Re: Bang for the Buck ?
GuidoBee   6/6/2012 6:04:51 PM
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For some aspects of fighting fires on ships, the robot is great.  One of the first things that happens in a confined space fire is to turn off the air going in and (turn on exhaust) vent the smoke (going out).  This reduction in atmosphere slows the fire, but reduces the O2 / atmosphere: robots can do better than sailors when there is low O2 or toxic smoke: OBA's (like SCBA's) are short term and restrictive.  The issues mentioned of floors / decks that are not flat pose obstacles for getting around: knee knockers (and I, and most sailors, have the scars that go with them).  Lastly, the combination of ship's motion (pitch, roll, heave, etc.) and handling 1-1/2 or 2-1/2 inch hoses normally used to fight fires usually wear out teams of 3-5 or more sailors in a matter of minutes (require practiced rotation of nozzle-man, to avoid exhaustion) on each hose indicates the energy being dealt with by hose teams (think 150+ psi in fire mains on a ship). 

Things are a little different when you can use light water or PKP (chemical agent), in that the volumes / weights and push-back from the hose is reduced: all that is good, or better, anyway.  Halon is used in some cases, but is not a perfect solution, either: last guy out of the space fires that system and shuts the hatch.  Some Halons are toxic.  (It's been a while since my last USN cruise, so some things have probably changed, but ships' motion and the reality of a high pressure hose require balance and strength.) 

Robot is a great idea, but I think it will take some work to in confined spaces.  Smoke cuts visibility really fast; IR can help in this, otherwise you are working in the hot, in the dark, and in the (often toxic) smoke really fast. 

The balance is delicate and hard to deal with as the decks get wet and slippery.)  I'm all for the robot, but it's going to be a challenge to pull off.  Save one ship, one burned or dead sailor, though, and it would all be worth while.  Good luck.

CDR, USN, Ret

notarboca
User Rank
Gold
Re: Bang for the Buck ?
notarboca   6/6/2012 2:52:10 AM
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robatnorcross,

I don't think you are being a wet rag at all.  Perhaps there will be straight-forward events that a firefighting robot can mitigate, but fire (as you well know and have experienced) is a dynamic issue.  Humans will always have some input into the the decision making and actions taken.  Reminds me a lot of Scott Carpenter's Aurora 7 mission where a pitch horizon malfunction left the astronaut to manually correct because ground didn't realize what the problem was.  There's a reason for the "man in the can"!

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Balancing act
Rob Spiegel   6/5/2012 2:37:58 PM
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That makes sense, Mydesign. When you add in the comments by Robatnorcross, it seems you would need remote control every step of the way in order to move the robot through tricky environments. 

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Bang for the Buck ?
Rob Spiegel   6/5/2012 2:28:19 PM
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That's very enlightening, Robatnorcross. And it makes perfect sense. The DOD seems to be spending tons on advanced technology for surveillance and other uses (such as this robot). It could be that the ultimate value will come when the technology shifts to civilian use (as you suggested with the hotel reference).

GlennA
User Rank
Gold
Having to prove it won't work ?
GlennA   6/5/2012 9:14:35 AM
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RobAtNorcross;  Maybe this is a case of seeing what is or isn't possible.  Have you ever had problems trying to convince someone that something won't work ?  I thought Odex-1 was a great demonstration of mobile robotics, but it couldn't be autonomous because of processor and power limitations.  Sometimes you have to try and fail.  Maybe the result of this experiment will be the conclusion that the technology is not ready, yet.  Or they may scale back their expectations to what is possible as a remotely operated, tethered unit, for less dramatic jobs.  There seems to be a push to create the science fiction humanoid robots that are multi-functional, whether it is a realistic goal, or not.

Mydesign
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Balancing act
Mydesign   6/5/2012 3:31:58 AM
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1 saves
Rob, even I think so. In most of the cases robots are using, where human interaction or presents are not possible. In such cases remote aces to device is very much required. Pre-programmable robots are not feasible always.

robatnorcross
User Rank
Gold
Re: Bang for the Buck ?
robatnorcross   6/4/2012 6:26:23 PM
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First: I suspect that the "Bucks" originate from some govt. agency like DOD.

Second: and more important. As someone who has been through Navy Shipboard firefighting training, there is NO way that a thing like this can be more than an obstacle for the humans (spelled sailors) that would have to "help" the thing. If you have ever been on a Navy ship the access to some spaces have "ladders" (the term the Navy uses for stairs. Others have ladders more like the kind you paint the outside of your house with (vertical).

On top of that once you get into an area there are hundreds of things you have to get around, underneath, on top of and behind.

I was involved in a real episode in which I had to climb up a weapons storage rack system that was about 20 feet high (with no ladder) to manually turn off a 12" water main to keep the thing from sinking at the pier.

This "project" sounds a lot like the DOD looking to spend money on something that has some sort of political slant.

Even the Honda robot which is truly an amazing piece of engineering couldn't even begin to get around inside a ship (hotel maybe) but not a ship I've seen.

Sorry for being such a wet rag.

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