Futuristic Dynamic Duo: U.S. Navy’s Firefighting Humanoid, SAFFiR, Has a Drone For a Partner!

By: | February 8th, 2015

The U.S. Navy has been showing off SAFFiR (Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot), a humanoid prototype that is getting closer and closer to completion.

What was once an aluminum core with two legs, now looks like a beast of a robot capable of doing some damage should it ever turn on humans.

Office of Naval Research program manager, Thomas McKenna, said yesterday at the Naval Future Force Science & Technology Expo, “We set out to build and demonstrate a humanoid capable of mobility aboard a ship, manipulating doors and fire hoses, and equipped with sensors to see and navigate through smoke. The long term goal is to keep sailors from the danger of direct exposure to fire.”

SAFFiR is currently unable to stand without a tether, but it does have plenty of other cool features:

  • Five-foot-10 inches tall
  • Weighs 143 pounds
  • Rotating laser
  • Infrared stereovision sensors
  • Can handle a fire hose
  • Capable of taking measured steps

The coolest part about the robot firefighter is that it can be used in conjunction with a DC-21 quadcopter, which uses infrared sensors and cameras to detect fires and map out the topography of an area. The drone can then communicate the data it collects with its sidekick, SAFFiR.

The Navy is actively working to make the robot faster, more efficient in communicating, and smarter in general as the ultimate goal is for SAFFiR to work with Navy officers.

“We’re working toward human-robot teams,” McKenna said. “It’s what we call the hybrid force: humans and robots working together.”

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