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US Navy Tests Robotic Fire-Fighters

Fire-fighting robots designed to withstand intense heat are to be tested by the US Navy this summer.

The Shipboard Autonomous Fire-fighting Robot (SAFFiR) has been built by engineers at Virginia Tech and other US universities.
The robots are expected to perform a variety of tasks - balancing, turning valves, picking up and dragging a fire hose and jetting water on the fire.

They also have a vision system to search for survivors.

"The human-sized autonomous robot is capable of finding and suppressing shipboard fires and working seamlessly with human fire-fighters," says the Office of Naval Research's website. Such a machine should be "able to withstand higher heat for longer periods than human fire-fighters," it adds.

Two versions of the robot, made by researchers at Virginia Tech and the universities of California, Los Angeles and Pennsylvania, will be tested on board the decommissioned USS Shadwell. The ship is regularly set on fire to test new equipment. One robot will be about 5ft (1.5m) while the other will be slightly taller and more advanced.

BBC News. 2014. US Navy tests robot fire-fighters. Available at: 2014. NRL Autonomy Lab Hosts Shipboard Fire Robotics Consortium - U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Available at:

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