Segway-like Firefighter Robots
Robotics is becoming the talk of the day. The possibilities with robotics are endless. Believe it or not; they have already taken over industry because of their efficiency and the technological advancement that science is making every minute that passes by. However, there is a certain ‘gap’ between robotics and common people. Perhaps they see it as an ‘alien’ thing which they cannot own or don’t have access to. Robots have been helping out industry for quite some time now. Car industry owes a great deal to robotics for their recent rise in success and bank balance. There are robots that are considered an accessory; the one we discuss today is a necessity.
Segway is actually a medium of transport; it is a two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered electric vehicle. Recently at University of California, San Diego, some firefighter robots have been manufactured that have a structure similar to the segway, and the sole purpose for their designing is to help firefighters from the extreme situations that may arise in an unfriendly encounter. Firefighters meeting accidents is nothing new! Let’s face it, they are, after all, walking into an unknown territory and don’t know what they might be facing. On 31st May 2013 four firefighters died. Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison says the four were looking for people they thought were still trapped in the burning building. “The roof collapsed,” he told the paper. “I don’t know if that was folks outside next to the structure or inside when it collapsed, but the collapse is going to be the cause.”
The main features of this robot are the two RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) cameras and one infrared camera that allow it to construct 3D maps for the firefighters. It can point out the hot spots for the firefighters using RGB and also detect life signatures in the area, hence guiding the firefighters about which areas to avoid and which to look into. Another feature is the vertical leg, which helps it to get around obstacles and climb stairs. Other sensors allow it to detect harmful and volatile gases and the state of the building and how much damage the integrity of the building has taken, hence providing an estimate time window for the firefighters, before the structure crashes.
These robots are designed for three purposes;
In real-life situations, they can be sent in first to get valuable information about the site. Once the information is available, that too in real-time, firefighters can move in! Save people with greater efficiency and safety because everything is already mapped out for them.
These robots are rumored to be small, inexpensive, agile and autonomous as explained by Thomas Bewley, professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. By using firefighting robots such incidents can be avoided. As we’ve already discussed; this particular robot can read the structural integrity of the building and can prove to be a great ally to the firefighter who can depend on these robots and save the victims.
Robotics has indeed changed our lives, made them simpler and easier than our forefathers. Let’s see what the future holds for us!