Home Fire News Researchers developing robotic technology aimed at saving firefighters’ lives

Researchers developing robotic technology aimed at saving firefighters’ lives


The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition is on the verge of a breakthrough — a breakthrough that may one day save lives.

The Pensacola-based firm is working on a robot that could fight fires on ships, and researchers tell WEARTV News, sending a robotic fireman to a fire behind a closed, metal hatch can present too many risks.

“When you’re on a ship, there’s a good chance if you’re a firefighter in there fighting a fire you could get a hatch closed behind you and you’re going to be stuck in a ship that’s sinking,” Research Associate John Carff tells WEARTV News.

IHMC’s “Atlas” robot is under further development after the firm won a series of challenge competitions where robots assist in disaster-recovery scenarios. Now IHMC is enlisting a little help from their friends — the Pensacola Fire Department.

The fire department agrees with Carff that if there’s a chance to mitigate risks, it’s a good thing.

“The idea of the shipboard firefighting where you are contained in a metal enclosure, sending in a robot instead of a person would be a huge advantage,” Pensacola Fire Chief David Allen tells WEARTV News.

One of the challenges faced by robot Atlas — keeping its balance under intense pressure of the fire hose.

“When you have those fire hoses on they’re pushing back really hard and there’s not many robots that can withstand that pressure. So we did a lot of development on this robot where he will fight back, if you come up and push him from the front, he’s going to lean into it and he’s not going to fall over,” Carff explains for WEARTV News.

IHMC demonstrated how Atlas keeps his balance on a rocking platform that simulates the movement of a ship, and researchers say they want to demonstrate what’s possible so they can get funding to move the project forward.

Carff tells WEARTV News, “It’s really exciting. I can’t imagine what’s going to come in the next few years.”


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