Robotics

Firefighters in a simulation training. / Photo by: Manuel F. Guerrero, U.S. Marine Corps via Wikimedia Commons

 

Firefighters are extensively trained to handle hazardous fires, yet they remain prone to its harmful effects. With that in mind, Japanese scientists built a snake-like robot to help with firefighting while keeping firemen safe.

The snake-like water-spitting robot was developed by scientists at Hachinohe College, Tohoku University, and the National Institute of Technology. The prototype model has a length of two meters that can be extended to the desired length by adding more segments to the body. For pumping out water, the scientists installed a gas engine and a compressor to allow the robot to produce water pressure of 0.7 megapascals.

To function, several sets of steerable nozzle modules are installed on the length of its body. The modules pump water from of a high-pressure stream inside the hose and spray it downwards. But once the water exits downwards at high velocity, the hose is pushed upwards, and a sufficient number of modules on the robot allows it to be lifted in the air. In other words, a large amount of water under high pressure traveling inside its body causes it to move upward.

The head nuzzle also has a module that distributes the water with more precision than a standard hose. The upward motion of the robot enables it to target the source of the fire without suffering from high temperature. 

Unfortunately, the snake-like robot is not yet ready for real-life firefighting. According to IEEE Spectrum, the scientists still need to make adjustments to improve the stability of the prototype. They also need to make it more manageable, more capable of handling additional modules, and more efficient since the algorithm is still in its infancy.