Dortmund: A new robot at the service of the fire brigade. An original robot has recently been developed to assist firefighting and rescue forces in extreme situations. The robot can make a risk assessment when there is low visibility. This is his main advantage. It was built within the European Smokebot research program to support rescue units.
Tested in Dortmund. The city’s fire brigade works with experts and scientists in the field of artificial intelligence and engineering. They set up a special fire training center to test this prototype, equipped with several sensors.
“The most innovative element of this project is certainly the radar camera. It is made up of a series of antennas and receivers that send and receive radar bundles and try to create a three-dimensional image of the space, “said Erik Saphernecht, an expert in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Erebro.
Until today, no robots could intervene when there were dense fumes or dust. The goal is not only to create an image of space, but also to have the smell of it.
“The robot’s nose is hidden in the back. It can smell the smells that exist in the spaces that enter. Because in such cases of fire, there may be dangerous chemicals in the air. And that’s something we need to know, “says Eric Schaffnerich.
The robot is remotely controlled via a wireless connection. In extreme situations, traditional sensors such as cameras are not effective. This system is based on different information, which can create a precise representation of the environment, even when there is no visibility.
“This gives us information about the three-dimensional display of space, temperature, and gas leakage. This is very important for firefighters, because they can get into the building with much less risk, “explains Akim Lillienthal, Smokebot Project Coordinator.
Despite its advantages, the robot also has weaknesses, especially in terms of reaction speed. Scientists are trying to solve this issue and add other functions to its future version.
“We can look at all possible scenarios only when we have enough time. The speed of mission is very important. We have to solve this issue in the future, for example with drone. And with the recognition of a person, something we have not yet, “says Akim Lilliendhal.
Firefighters believe that this type of robot can prove to be extremely useful in tunnel fires or accidents in industrial areas where there are multiple hazards.
“Robot exploration provides us with additional information on whether there are any damage to industrial plants, where there may be dangerous substances that are large. There are other obstacles. Not just the furniture of an apartment but also the appliances that pass through the ceiling or the ground. This information helps to enhance the safety of rescue teams, “notes Deleve Harris, Dortmund’s Fire Brigade chief.
This new robot is still at an experimental stage and can not take part in truly extreme situations. But soon his powers will be at the service of firefighters.