Ahmed Elbatrawy

Grenade-throwing robot to fight fires


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br/The Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) is being developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to help fight fires aboard naval vessels.
The “Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) is being developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to help fight fires aboard naval vessels.

br/The NRL is working on the project with Virginia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania. SAFFiR will follow on from Virginia Tech's CHARLI-L1 robot (pictured) says the NRL.

The NRL is working on the project with Virginia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania. SAFFiR will follow on from Virginia Tech’s CHARLI-L1 robot (pictured) says the NRL.


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(CNN) — It might look like science fiction but the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) hopes to turn this humanoid robot into a seafaring fact in an effort to improve firefighting capabilities on board military vessels.

Currently at the development stage, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (or SAFFiR for short) is intended to combat fires in the cramped conditions of a ship, saving lives and costly equipment.

Armed with cameras and a gas sensor, the battery-powered SAFFiR will be “capable of activating fire suppressors” and throwing “propelled extinguishing agent technology (PEAT) grenades,” says the NRL.

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Despite its decidedly flat-looking feet, the NRL says the robot will be a “sure-footed sailor” capable of “walking, balancing and traversing obstacles” autonomously. Furthermore, it will be able to interact with humans as part of a wider firefighting team.

It is being developed in conjunction with researchers at Virginia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania, as a next step from Virginia Tech’s CHARLI-L1 (Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence) robot. CHARLI-L1 is a five-foot tall humanoid robot built by students from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory.

The NRL says SAFFiR will be tested on board the ex-USS Shadwell — a decommissioned landing ship dock used for fire fighting experiments — towards the end of 2013.






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Ahmed Elbatrawy