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Robotics The Military Technology

Robot Firefighter To Throw Extinguisher Grenades 78

S810 writes "Discovery News is running an article about the U.S. Navy developing a robot capable of 'throwing extinguisher grenades.' From the article: 'SAFFiR would need finger and hand coordination to wrestle fire hoses into place or accurately throw extinguisher grenades. It similarly would need the sure-footed balance of a veteran sailor's sea legs to confidently walk the wave-tossed decks of warships. An infrared camera could allow such a robot to see through smoke-filled hallways, and perhaps it could detect the location of fires through gas sensors. The robot's battery is intended to pack enough energy for half an hour of firefighting action.'"
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Robot Firefighter To Throw Extinguisher Grenades

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  • Re:robot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @05:22PM (#39293583) Homepage

    Maybe there's a good reason, but I haven't been able to figure out why you wouldn't just use a little mortar tube for the grenade part. Like a potato gun without the pyro.

    Store a compressed air tank, bypass the complicated hand and arm movements, and skip the power requirements for that part... no?

    It just seems like sometimes we try too hard to make things humanoid when that might not be the best mechanical way to do a job.

  • Re:Riiight... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by electron sponge ( 1758814 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:59PM (#39296607)

    There is no way that robot twiddle dum would get there on time with the robot operator having to maneuver it from cargo hold #3 to the engine room.... the ship could have been toast by that time.

    So how about if the robot is stored where it is needed?

    Former Navy sailor and a former #1 nozzleman here. You can't possibly have enough robots to fight fires in all the places a fire could be unless you make the ship a giant firefighting robot. As cool as that sounds, it kind of detracts from the actual mission, which is to fight and win wars at sea. The ship's crew are ultimately much better equipped to defeat fires than some automaton because they have native human intelligence and can use spur of the moment logic to reassess a situation. A robot might see a hotspot in a puddle of burning fuel oil and concentrate on it, where a human would say "that'll put itself out and I need to concentrate on this jet of flame erupting from the gas turbine engine." Someday, maybe, robots will be able to assess a main space casualty the way a human could, but until that day comes the Navy should continue to rely on the very good judgement of its human firefighting teams. The US Navy trains every single sailor to be a firefighter, the way the Marines and Army train everyone to be a rifleman. Damage control is a religion among the seagoing set. It will be a very long time before a robot can replace a motivated sailor as the best means to save the ship. There are too many variables to leave it to code.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger