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Robot Firefighter To Throw Extinguisher Grenades

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-a-big-step-from-throwing-actual-grenades dept.

Robotics 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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Sounds good (4, Funny)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293151)

I want to see a warship manned with robots like that. Can you imagine how intimidating that would be, to see that in your scope? Send up the periscope, and all these robot heads swivel around to look directly at you.

Re:Sounds good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293755)

Especially if they look like Creepers

And explode...

Actually, thinking about it, it's a good thing Notch doesn't work for the DoD.

Re:Sounds good (1)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 2 years ago | (#39302831)

That'sssssss a nice ship you have there.

Re:Sounds good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39294823)

Reminds me of the army of ROBs from SSBB.

Re:Sounds good (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297357)

Not really. It just means fewer concerns over the loss of human lives if you sink the ship (shouldn't be too hard if you are already within periscope distance).

It's only intimidating to people on-board who are being attacked by the robots (e.g. if some crazy nut has is using them to kill/hurt people on board).

robot (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293173)

maybe it's time for Bigdog to get his sea-...arms?

Re:robot (5, Interesting)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293583)

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:robot (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293935)

I would think that an arm capable of throwing a grenade of some sort would be the same arm that is capable of manipulating a standard fire hose. Single tool multiple use.

Re:robot (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294453)

Sure but two simple tools will usually beat one complex tool. Particularly when the tools aren't self-healing and guided by a human intellect.

Re:robot (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296439)

Sure but two simple tools will usually beat one complex tool. Particularly when the tools aren't self-healing and guided by a human intellect.

Well, I suppose in part it's a matter of scale, where success is found on either end of the scale: the perfect tool for a single job is good, a crummy tool that can do two jobs is bad, but maybe a crummy tool that can do *ten* jobs is good again. Call it the Swiss Army Knife Principle. The Swiss army knife is a collection of truly crappy tools that add up to something pretty handy.

A human arm and hand takes this principle further. It's amazingly versatile, but there's no one thing you can do with your bare hands that you couldn't do better with some kind of tool (try to keep your mind out of the gutter for a moment). So a robotic analog of a human arm might be quite a handy thing, but it's a tall order to make one. In the initial stages you'd be creating an overly complicated tool that does a few simple jobs a lot less well than a straightforward tool would.

If that's true, how did we ever end up with something like a Swiss army knife? I think a clue can be found an older name for pocket knives: *pen knife*. Knives tend to have pretty wide utility, but it turns out that a dinky little knife is the *perfect* thing you want if you want to trim a quill or reed pen. Add a second blade to do two different kinds operations on your pen, and the first time somebody ruins one of the knife blades by trying to use it as a screwdriver and you have the germ of an idea.

Re:robot (0, Offtopic)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294701)

I would think that an arm capable of throwing a grenade of some sort would be the same arm that is capable of manipulating a standard fire hose. Single tool multiple use.

Kind of like how you can stick your dick in a pussy, mouth, or ass.
Single tool multiple use.

Re:robot (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294713)

From what the linked article (if you could call it that) said, I'd guess you're right and that was the idea on paper.

Though again, I'd think there are better, simpler ways to deal with a fire hose if you're not trying to puzzle two discreet jobs together with one tool that isn't best at either.

Either way, as a proof of concept that's meant to be somewhat practical, it'd be neat to see. And it should go without saying, but I'm not one of the robotics geniuses working on the project... I'm sure they've considered all this.

Re:robot (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297009)

An arm capable of throwing a fire-extinguishing grenade will also be capable of throwing a frag grenade.

Re:robot (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294853)

There are many places where one could make use of a robot, for example near burning aircraft loaded with munitions.

Watch some of the "Forrestal fire" videos where responding seaman are blown away and incinerated to see why the Navy is interested. Likewise, you could seal a compartment with a robot inside while it continued to fight a fire which would suffocate a human crew.

Re:robot (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294987)

I wasn't suggesting that robots are a bad idea for firefighting. Just that we might, sometimes, go a little overboard trying to mimic human characteristics in robots when it's not the best solution to a problem.

Re:robot (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#39299621)

Indeed, I'd have thought a hovering sphere of some description would be of more use, with its own supply of extinguishing grenades. Controlling a high pressure hose with such a robot might be a challenge, but no reason why you wouldn't have control systems adapted to that.

I'm not so sure how well this plan was thought out (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293245)

"The robot's battery is intended to pack enough energy for half an hour of firefighting action." ... and then it explodes releasing toxic chemicals everywhere.

Re:I'm not so sure how well this plan was thought (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293303)

Yep, I bet nobody designing and building a robot to fight fires would have considered the impact of heat on the battery pack.

Because "high temperatures" wouldn't be part of the intended operating environment. At all.

Once again, an armchair Slashdotter proves more intelligent than dozens of scientists and engineers who, of course, never would have thought of this as a potential concern or operating constraint!

Re:I'm not so sure how well this plan was thought (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293357)

Of course they did, but assuming they did removes the humor. :) Not everything should be serious.

Re:I'm not so sure how well this plan was thought (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295395)

Dunno... The amount of water going through a firefighting hose operating at 100PSI has more than enough mass flow to power a turbine which could keep a robot going easily. That would knock out the half-hour problem. Of course this would require a hose coupling directly to such a robot.

Yet I wouldn't drop the battery from the design completely though, something happens to the line pressure or needing to move the robot when not actively firefighting you're going to need backup power to maintain mobility.

Heat shouldn't be too much of a problem either. Instead of having the robot hold the firefighting hose, but rather coupled to it - that water could flow through a heatsink. That robot could easily go where people couldn't in regards to temperatures. Any suit which could provide the same heat exchange capability for a human would simply be too cumbersome to be of use.

If such a system were implemented, I'd also consider re-designing the regular firefighting nozzle such that the robot-coupling attaches to the spray end of it. That way if something happens to the robot, you just pull-back the valve handle to cut flow, do whatever to release the nozzle, and you've got the nozzle in your hand ready to go in order to keep fighting the fire.

No, I'm not an engineer, but I'm sure anybody DARPA can hire can make sense of what I just said and work with it.

Re:I'm not so sure how well this plan was thought (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295977)

Once again, an armchair Slashdotter proves more intelligent than dozens of scientists and engineers who, of course, never would have thought of this as a potential concern or operating constraint!

The joke is on you. This "fighting fires" with grenades sounds too good to be true. The real end goal is more likely to be about dropping robots behind enemy lines and have them throw grenades which are meant to kill people. In that regard, having the battery explode releasing toxic chemicals everywhere may just be icing on the cake for its original designers.

Re:I'm not so sure how well this plan was thought (1)

RedShoeRider (658314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39302257)

Don't be too sure about the "fire fighting with grenades sounds too good to be true". We already have them:
http://www.statx.com/First_Responder.asp [statx.com]

Re:I'm not so sure how well this plan was thought (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294877)

As opposed to a human firefighter, who merely smells nasty when burning...

Re:I'm not so sure how well this plan was thought (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295063)

It's not going to have battery pack. It takes heat from the environment and convert it to energy to power itself. It powers down when the fire is out and no more energy left to consume.

Re:I'm not so sure how well this plan was thought (2)

Anonymus (2267354) | more than 2 years ago | (#39299213)

Meanwhile, the millions of LEDs covering its body [slashdot.org] will provide mood lighting for everyone in the vicinity.

Public reaction? (3, Insightful)

mws1066 (1057218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293249)

I'm curious about how the public would really react to robots like this doing dangerous jobs - be it rescue robots, firefighting robots, or even the recently hotly-discussed automated (self-driving) cars. The first time one of these robots slips up and someone dies (or is left to die), public outcry will be swift and harsh.

Re:Public reaction? (5, Informative)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293315)

Compare to the auto-belay devices on many climbing walls. A couple of falls, the second fatal, got a worldwide recall of the most popular brand. They've been redesigned to get rid of the fault and they're back, but they will wear out with age. But even before the recall, they were (according to climber friends) statistically more reliable than a human holding a rope.

So basically, they recalled a safety device that was more safe than a human, and replaced it with humans holding ropes, all in the name of safety.

In short: you're quite right.

Re:Public reaction? (1)

Trinn (523103) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293593)

I have to wonder what kind of deviation exists in the sample for human safety. It would seem to me from my limited toprope gym climbing experience that some humans are significantly safer than others, and in addition to that, a constant communication stream tends to also increase overall safety as well as response time, by binding attention to you. I would also add that unlike the mechanical auto-belay system (which I have used on a trip to Toronto), a human is (for what little it might be worth) capable of reacting intelligently to unexpected situations, whereas the device would simply fail.

Re:Public reaction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293789)

They're statistically safer.

Re:Public reaction? (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301283)

You have a lot of faith in humanity, calling them capable of reacting intelligently to unexpected situations and all. Many humans don't know what to do in emergency situations, some just freeze, some freak out and flap their hands about.

Prior art (4, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293255)

My wife has been throwing wet blankets on everything for years.

Re:Prior art (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293931)

(Score:10, Funny)

FTF/.

Extinguisher Grenades (1)

Shadyman (939863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293327)

That could make a great band name...

Re:Obligatory (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293899)

Extinguisher Grenades dot tumblr dot com [xkcd.com]

Long enough time? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293349)

The robot's battery is intended to pack enough energy for half an hour of firefighting action.

OK, I admit I have zero experience with fighting fires on ships ... But wouldn't you want a larger battery life in case it's a stubborn fire?

I would think the last thing you'd want is all of the robots winding down just before the fire is out.

Re:Long enough time? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293385)

Yeah, that would almost be as silly as building your killbots with a pre-set kill limit, so you could defeat them by sending wave after wave of your own men at them.

Re:Long enough time? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293517)

I would think the last thing you'd want is all of the robots winding down just before the fire is out.

The simple solution would be to not send out all robots. If a fire breaks out in the mess hall you don't send 20 robots there to fight it. You send 5 first, maybe another 5 after 10 minutes, another 5 10 minutes later, etc. By the time you send the last wave the first couple waves are already back recharging (or getting their batteries replaced with fresh ones).

Re:Long enough time? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294147)

Better yet, just power them from the heat of the fire.

Re:Long enough time? (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294537)

20 robots?! You think the government will give 20 robots to any fire department? 1 and it would be an overkill already.

Re:Long enough time? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303217)

20 robots?! You think the government will give 20 robots to any fire department?

Like the "fire department" on a nuclear aircraft carrier? Yeah, I can see the government doing that.

Re:Long enough time? (2)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296559)

If you don't control the fire in 30 min (so humans can get there), you already lost your ship.

In fact, most of the humans with respiratory protection have a much smaller autonomy. Most kits come with 10 to 20 min, but I don't know what exactly ships buy.

Multi-purpose uses (5, Funny)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293361)

- non-lethal crowd control: tear gas grenade

- parties (or impromptu parades): confetti grenade

- stock market crashes/rises: ticker-tape grenade

- religious ceremonies: dove of peace grenade

- political conventions: t-shirt prize grenade

- insurrection (regular explodey grenade)

Re:Multi-purpose uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293831)

- insurrection: grenade grenade

Re:Multi-purpose uses (4, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294741)

- non-lethal crowd control: tear gas grenade

- parties (or impromptu parades): confetti grenade

- stock market crashes/rises: ticker-tape grenade

- religious ceremonies: dove of peace grenade

- political conventions: t-shirt prize grenade

- insurrection (regular explodey grenade)

- Fighting off terrible rabbits: Holy Hand Grenade

Re:Multi-purpose uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297557)

- fruit salad (regular grenade)

I'll be... (1)

dakkon1024 (691790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293415)

Why do I feel like every year we come closer to Sky Net being a reality.

Re:I'll be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293615)

We humans have clearly demonstrated that we are incapable of managing our own affairs (globally, not individual people's lives). I for one, and I am serious about this, am eagerly awaiting our AI/Robot overlords.

Re:I'll be... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39299261)

I perfered the original ending to I, Robot. In which a group of engineers discover that there is indeed an AI scheme to take over the world and initially try to find a way to stop this invasion - up until the point they realise that the world is being taken over by superintelligent minds that feel no greed or lust for power, never make mistakes, are entirely selfless and physically incapable of not acting in the best interests of mankind. They conclude that it'd be better to forget they ever discovered anything and just let the AIs win.

Re:I'll be... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293697)

Is your name John Connor?

deja vu (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293449)

Replace that extinguisher grenades with grenades, TnT or anything explosive and voila, you got terminator version .01 alpha. Sorry had to say that lol

sploosh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293453)

I see this robot being misused to start a water balloon war on ship in the middle of the night.

Why not just make smart sprinklers? (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293527)

It's all well and good to have an automated firefighter unit, but doesn't it make more sense to simply have better systems that are more passive?

Couldn't you just have a robotic arm that's tied into the flame retardant system attached to the ceiling in important or dangerous rooms? Make it smart enough to detect fire, take aim, and spray it with a flame retardant. I'm sort of imagining the robot in the recent Iron Man films that does something similar. Seems like that could be done without the need for battery packs and ambulation, and not only would it be more ubiquitous, it'd be able to respond a hell of a lot faster than something that's traveling on foot throughout the ship, which would mean less time for the fire to cause damage.

Granted, you can't just drop the sort of thing I'm talking about into a ship, since you'd need to pipe flame retardant into a few places it isn't already, but the cost of one of these ambulatory robotic firefighters has got to be ridiculous (assuming the R&D pans out anytime soon), so I wonder at what point it's more cost effective to just do something simpler with technology that we already have.

Re:Why not just make smart sprinklers? (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293645)

Or we could use regular "dumb" sprinklers at a tiny fraction of the cost of automated robot arms and "smart" sensors in each compartment. Anything that renders these inoperative would have done in a "smart" robotic arm sprinkler already.

Re:Why not just make smart sprinklers? (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293999)

That thought occurred to me immediately after making the post. >_

I think the benefit of an arm would be the ability to direct a more concentrated flow at something specific, but, as you pointed out, things that would render dumb sprinklers useless would likely render these smart ones useless as well, and the dumb ones cost significantly less.

Re:Why not just make smart sprinklers? (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294025)

Gah...one-eyed emoticon.

Re:Why not just make smart sprinklers? (1)

binkless (131541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293721)

I'm pretty sure that Navy ships have lots of passive firefighting features already.

Fire in the confined spaces of a warship is a truly terrifying prospect, and the Navy is always looking for the latest in fire suppression technology.

Re:Why not just make smart sprinklers? (3, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294179)

A bomb tearing through the deck can make a mess of a sprinkler system.

Re:Why not just make smart sprinklers? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295227)

I'm a Navy Vet. Engine rooms already have retardant/water systems as well as HALON in case things get really ugly. There are still lots of places onboard where it is impractical to plumb and route firefighting water, and water is by no means the best solution. Modern warships have lots of electronics (CO2 is far superior for electrical fires), and being that its, you know, a ship, pumping copious amounts of water inside is never a good idea. Keep in mind as well that this is a warship, and since warfighting often results in ruptured pipes onboard, only central trunks are wet, others are dry standpipes. Couple this with the fact that seawater is typically the water medium of choice (desalination is expensive and slow), and now you have a maintenance nightmare trying to ensure manual and automated valves stay in good condition.

Re:Why not just make smart sprinklers? (2)

treeves (963993) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296219)

HALON/CO2 no good on subs. Seawater piping with valves or sprinklers that open on their own also not a good idea. Fighting fires the old fashioned way with manual fire hoses is still the best.

Re:Why not just make smart sprinklers? (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296443)

Couldn't you just have a robotic arm that's tied into the flame retardant system attached to the ceiling in important or dangerous rooms?

Well, on a warship - that's damn near every room. Even berthing compartments are often right next to places you don't want fire to spread to.
 

Seems like that could be done without the need for battery packs and ambulation, and not only would it be more ubiquitous, it'd be able to respond a hell of a lot faster than something that's traveling on foot throughout the ship, which would mean less time for the fire to cause damage.

While you'd do without without battery packs and ambulation, you'd replace it with considerable wiring and a hell of a lot of piping - all which is heavy and expensive and susceptible to battle damage. Not to mention all those sensors and arms and valves and controls scattered about the ship will represent a significantly increased maintenance workload.
 

Granted, you can't just drop the sort of thing I'm talking about into a ship, since you'd need to pipe flame retardant into a few places it isn't already

Fire retardant pretty much isn't piped anywhere in any ship. Seawater is, but nobody in their right mind is going to leave a pressurized seawater system subject to automatic control lying about... Too many expensive and valuable things that can be damaged by an accidental discharge.

This is a pretty high bar. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293541)

If you can make a robot to do all of those things while moving fast on a rolling ship, then you're pretty much in the world of tomorrow. If this is the focus of only a small group, I have to wonder if they've considered the scope of what they are trying to do.

and, forgot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39294515)

Not only be the robot of tomorrow to able to replace humans in a lot of vocations, but doing that while resisting several hundred degrees C. I'm feeling this is a pet project or pipe dream.

Nice concept, but not practical (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39293565)

There are too many varibles in firefighting, it is my specialty and sadly we don't have the technology to replace us in the firefighting capacity. I can say this quite easily since over 90% calls are medical calls you go on as a firefighter, but there are a lot of other specialty things we do. Hazmat, rescues, vehicle extrication, etc, the actual fighting fires part is a such a small part of the job. And it's not like what you see on TV, you can't see whats in front of you, the floor may be weakened so you have to ensure it's stable underneath you before you take ever crawl forward. And with fires they are burning hotter and more toxic than ever before with how much synthetic materials we are using and how good the insulation in current structures are. This is to list a few of the MANY dangers.

One of the things i see wrong with the design of the bot for this application is that it won't be good for much besides guiding it in already "safe" fires with no rescues, as you won't have any real feedback like you do in real life to know when to get out, all you might have is a monitor with sensors which will hopefully pick up something. And with the humanoid form it's not the most practical thing to have because heat rises, so it may be 200degrees close to the floor but at shoulder height it may be 700. So the bot would take excessive heat unless they built it to crawl on it's hands and knees like were trained to, in which case it should have been built differently to be more effecient. And lastly if they are using the same kind of "extinquisher grenades" I read about those are a bit interesting, last time i looked into that kind of thing it was just coming out and it works by stopping the chemical chain reaction of the fire, instead of displacing the O2, cooling it down, or removing the fuel (just listed fire tetrahedron in case you are interested).

Re:Nice concept, but not practical (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294355)

What I saw on TV was Emergency! They dealt with snakebites, circus stunts gone wrong, car wrecks, beautiful women with their toes caught in the tub faucet, heart attacks, gunshot wounds; and, of course, fires.

Re:Nice concept, but not practical (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296661)

Don't underestimate the bots. Do you really think computers are worse than people on a dark and unknown environemnt? It is only dark for you, with the right sensors, the robot can see everything. Do you really think robots have a problem with hazmat? It is cheap to make them imune. The same applies to a hight temperatures. they don't have to follow the same safety procedures as you.

Now, of course, that robot is being conceived for fighting fires, thus it won't replace everything firefighters do. It is a specific equipment, intented to be applied at specific situations. Rescue hability is a big miss, but I guess at a military ship it isn't as relevant as what I'm used to think.

This changes a few things... (1)

masteva (996554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293567)

Gives a whole new definition to yelling out "FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!" when this thing shoots!

Riiight... (5, Informative)

rabenja (919226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39293655)

Having been in the Navy for 14 years and forgetting the ship-board obstacles such as steep ladders, water-tight doors with their high step-over and the like, imagine the Navy red tape involved in:

  • Training and Personal Qualification System (PQS) sign-off
  • Repair and maintenance contract
  • Salt water (most fires involve some attempted dousing involving sea water)
  • Salt water laden sea air

I really cannot see this would be any help at all in a fire situation. Fires do not wait for robots. They are fast and furious. The fire drill is one of the most intense things that happens on a ship. 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.

Re:Riiight... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294929)

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?

Re:Riiight... (1)

rabenja (919226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295273)

...how many robots would be required? Where is there going to be a fire? Why not just have grenades planted in all likely places with heat-induced detonation?

Re:Riiight... (3, Interesting)

electron sponge (1758814) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Why do you need fingers and hands? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294057)

If you're making a robot to do some task, why over-complicate it? Traditional grenade launchers are just a tube and a trigger, they make special grenades to fit in it. Whats the problem with fitting fire hoses with some kind of socket or just fit the robot with a clamp that fits the existing hoses?

Holy Extinguisher Granade (2)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294105)

Why am I thinking of the Holy Hand Grenade Monty Python quote, only slightly re-worded?

And the Robot Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Extinguisher Grenade of Antioch towards thy fiery foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall be snuffed.

Yeah, that's great (2)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#39294875)

As a former volunteer firefighter if my old team gets a hold of anything that throws any kind of grenade, then no one will be able to light up a cigarette in the privacy of their own home without worrying about a fire grenade coming through the window.

On a practical level the fire robot would have to be able to squeeze through narrow spaces, over furniture, and around debris. I can't think of many household fires I was in where a robot would have been much help. It would have fallen through the floor at a kitchen fire that burned through the floorboards, we had to crawl across the couch to get to the hallway. I can't see how a robot could do that. Not only would it have to manage stairs, it would have to be able to bound up stairs dragging a hose line.

There's also deployment time. When the truck rolls up to a scene, we're ready to go in a few seconds after our boots hit the ground. I don't know how you could unpack a robot, boot it up and get it to the structure any faster than the entry and back up teams could pull the pre-connects. Might be handy in a brush fire, but again the terrain would be an issue.

Re:Yeah, that's great (2)

JeremyMorgan (1428075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295437)

I was thinking the same thing, as a current volunteer firefighter and techie I've thought about firefighting robots for years.

There are some huge obstacles aside from the most obvious which is heat.

- Terrain, as you said is a big one. I have been in a house with 2 feet of trash and laundry through the whole house. We could not see the floor while we were there. For humans it was a challenge, but for a robot it could make it impossible.

- Strength - As you know shagging hose takes strength, and that comes at a price for robots (weight and power usage).

- Victim Removal - While it's not an everyday occurrence its definitely a factor. What if someone is in the house and needs to be removed? Can a robot do this without further injuring the person? Does it have the dexterity to maneuver out of there towing someone?

- Deployment time has always been a big one. Can a robot do a scene size up? Not really. Can it do a 360 across any type of terrain that the house might be on?

I have no doubts that someday robots will be fighting fire, but we're such a long ways away from it still.

Aka. . . suffocation grenades? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295529)

Although, honestly, if they want to kill you, they've got much better stuff to do that job, but still, seems to me that in a pinch, an "extinguisher" grenade could still potentially be lethal, by sucking all the O2 out of the air in a closed space, for example?

All that's missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39296195)

are lasers, Chuck Norris, and a transforming robo-dog buddy and this will be the single most awesomest thing ever!

US Navy employs Mimiron ;) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39296813)

That robot is clearly Titan tech :))

I'm going to get loaded off of this~ (1)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296877)

1. Wait for government refinement, speculation, manufacturing, and development 2. Becomes unclassified. 3. Blueprints available on the Internetz 4. Re purpose into a sexbot 5. Profit!!!!!
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