- Title: NAVY/FIREFIGHTING-ROBOT Robot to fight fires on Navy ships
- Date: 9th February 2015
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (FEBRUARY 4, 2015) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) REAR ADMIRAL MAT WINTER, CHIEF OF NAVAL RESEARCH, SAYING: "We are not replacing our sailors with robots. Just like we're not replacing all our manned aircraft with unmanned aircraft or undersea aircraft with (inaudible). What we're looking at is the appropriate compliment and blending of autonomous systems with manned systems."
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- Duration: 00:00:19
- Topics: General
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- Story Text: A robot could soon be dousing flames with water or other retardants if a fire breaks out on board a U.S. Navy ship, the Office of Naval Research said.
Researchers from Virginia Tech who built the fire-fighting robot showed off its moves at the recent Naval Future Force Science & Technology Expo in Washington.
"The robot can hold a fire nozzle, walk down a hallway following other crew members, look through a doorway, find the fire using its infrared cameras, point the nozzle at the fire and put the fire out," Nikolaus Wittenstein, a Virginia Tech graduate research assistant, said.
The Navy funded the project because it says, having robots on deck to fight fires can keep sailors out of harm's way.
"A fire on a ship is a truly, a major, major emergency. The generated smoke, almost always toxic, does not vent as you would in a normal house fire or land fire where you can get to free oxygen immediately," Rear Admiral Mat Winter, Chief of Naval Research, said.
Known as SAFFIR, an acronym for Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot, the robot pointed its hose at a real fire during a trial on board the Naval Research Laboratory testing ship, the ex-USS Shadwell.
Modeled on the dimensions and capabilities of the human body. the robot stands five-foot-foot ten inch tall and weighs 140-pounds.
But even with all of its human-like characteristics, Winter says the idea behind the project is not to one day run Navy ships with robots.
"We are not replacing our sailors with robots," he said. "What we're looking at is the appropriate compliment and blending of autonomous systems with manned systems."
SAFFIR maneuvers through halls and doorways with motor-powered metal feet and grips a hose with what looks like a hand.
"It has to go through doors on a ship. It has to step over things. It has to use tools like a hose. It has to interact with people. And all of these tasks are better accomplished by being a humanoid," Wittenstein said.
To orient itself, the robot relies on a laser range finder to calculate distances between objects and people, stereo cameras to mimic depth perception,and infrared cameras to detect heat pumped out by a dangerous fire.
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- Embargoed:24th February 2015 12:00