US Navy to test robot firefighters for taming shipboard blazes

The military and government in the US is putting a lot of research and money into developing robots for various uses. DARPA is trying to build robots that can be used in an emergency in environments where humans can't safely operate for instance. NASA is also working on building robots, like Robonaut, that can be used in space.

The US Navy is also working on robots that will be used to fight fires; we saw the first of these robot fire fighters in 2012. This August, the Navy will set a retired vessel on fire and will use robots to put the fire out. If the test proves successful, the robots may become the default fire fighters about ships in use around the world.

The test will be held this August in Mobile Bay, Alabama aboard the decommissioned vessel formerly called the USS Shadwell. When the bots start fighting fire on the decommissioned ship, it will be their first shipboard test.

Designers of the robots gave them eyes able to recognize flames and the ability to operate the hoses just like people can. The movements of the robots will be directed by hand and voice commands of an operator nearby. One of the biggest challenges is getting the robots to respond quickly and accurately to voice and hand signals. If the bots misunderstand an order or respond incorrectly, the flames burn longer, endangering the crew and the ship.

SOURCE: Mashable