Could Robots Replace Human Firefighters?

There has been speculation that recent advancements in artificial intelligence may lead to robots taking over for humans, and the firefighting profession is not free from this discussion. There will not be a complete takeover anytime in the near future, but these technologies are advancing at a rapid rate, and it is worth critically examining.

The Current State of Firefighting Robots

It is no question that changes are among us. Firefighting robots are currently in development and testing, and some have been successful.

Italy developed a humanoid robot called WALK-MAN. This robot is remote-controlled by a human and is designed to enter a building, find a fire, then put it out with an extinguisher. This is a very highly developed robot with a 3D laser scanner, microphones, and video cameras which produce live feed for the operator. Its battery allows it to operate for roughly two hours. However, at this stage it still appears to work at a pretty slow pace. You can find a video of the WALK-MAN in action and learn more about the robot here.

Germany has produced a robot called the Turbine Aided Firefighting machine, also known as TAF 20. This machine is able to powerfully spray water or foam from 196 feet away and blast water 295 feet up in the air. This machine has already been used in a factory fire and proved itself to be effective.

The U.S. Navy team is progressing their efforts for their humanoid robot SAFFiR. They are incorporating a feature for their new machine to follow orders by interpreting and acting upon human gestures. The hopes are for this model to someday walk like a person and carry and fire hose; however, this project is nowhere close to completion.

The Future of Robotic Firefighting

Government agencies are currently working with occupational safety professional to make this seemly far-fetched phenomenon a reality, and those passionate about the safety of firefighters and the victims are strongly pushing for progression in this robotic production. These futuristic technologies could lend a hand to the first responders in the firefighting profession when it comes time for the life-threatening cases. Firefighting robots are able to handle environments that are too hazardous for humans, so they could prove to be a valuable resource in fighting intense or out-of-control fires.

No one knows if robots will ever completely replace human firefighters, and the integration of robotic firefighters with humans would likely require many changes to insurance and employment practices.

About Provident Fire Plus

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