An expert team of European researchers has created a robot that can enter burning buildings to assess the potential risk of explosions
Coined, the ‘SmokeBot’, the fireproof robot uses gas sensors, laser scanners and a thermal camera to relay information of hazardous scenes — that are too unsafe for humans — back to an operative.
In addition, the bot can create maps of places it has already been by using the data it collects along its travels.
Leader of the project, Achim Lilienthal a computer science professor at Sweden’s Orebro University, has said that there is no other robot with this combination of features in the current market space.
Intelligent sensors allow the fireproof robot to distinguish the different gases in the air while providing a percentage breakdown for analysts to assess any potential risks of explosions.
Using a high speed internet connection, the bot can transmit a plethora of real-time data back to an operator. However, if the connection is lost, the bot will automatically go back to the last place it could access the internet.
Leading fire and rescue researcher, Sylvia Pratzler-Wanczura of the Dortmund fire department described the technology as a “considerable advantage” in hazardous situations where it is too dangerous to send a human to investigate.
She added that the fireproof robot was most useful in circumstances that involve large areas such as forest fires.
However, the fireproof robot currently takes around 15-30 minutes to accurately transmit data from an accident location and can not be used in the most urgent of cases at the moment.
Now in its fourth consecutive year which is due to conclude this month, the project has received a whopping €3.5 million in EU funding to develop the technology.
Further partners involved in the developments are the Leibniz University of Hannover, the University of Warwick, the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and the Radar Techniques in Wachtberg, the Vienaa based Taurob manufacturing company and the Fire Department of Dortmund.
Image: Professor Achim Lilienthal and “SmokeBot”, Örebro University©