Saving lives when a building catches fire is the top priority of fire-fighters, but when they actually have to enter the burning building, they risk their own lives as well.
In order to help such fire-fighters to map out the structure of a building that is on fire, a team of scientists have begun to develop robotic autonomous buildings which would explore buildings and provide data about the safest way possible for fire-fighters to enter the building. The project has been initiated by Army Research Laboratory’s Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) program and involves many scientists from various backgrounds. One of the researchers explains that the robot would be the size of a Roomba, but a lot smarter than that.
The robots would use cameras to identify passages, doors and windows, and also unfamiliar structures. The robots would even ‘co-operate’ with each other, and then create a complete ‘map’ of the burning building that has to be entered by fire-fighters. The machines would be equipped with radars that would allow them to go inside dark and smoke filled rooms as well. However, the researchers have to develop a way where in the robots would not get stuck amidst debris within the building. You can watch the video to get an idea how it works.
Apart from that, the robots would collaborate with each other, and send data to handheld devices used by the fire-fighters, so that they can assess the situation within a building and enter places where human lives can be saved in the safest, and sometimes the most efficient manner. In fact, the ultimate goal is to create tiny robots that could venture inside extremely dangerous places like the damaged reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.