Mitsubishi’s Autonomous Firefighting Robots may save precious human lives in the future
In the past, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries had created robots to help in various fields. It created a plant inspection bot and long-necked bot for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and also an anti-explosive bot for highly gaseous environments.
Recently the company revealed two firefighting bots, Water Cannon Robot, and Hose Extension Robot. The two robots are specially made to combat situations deemed too hazardous for a human crew. Together with a third recon robot and a command system, they make up the Firefighting Robot System.
This system is a result of Mitsubishi’s five-year project by ‘Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency to combat disasters in the energy and industrial fields. ‘Tokyo’s National Research Institute of Fire recently showcased this creation in an open demonstration.
The Water Canon Robot is designed to put out fires in hard-to-reach places such as a chemical plant. The companion Hose Extension Robot works in-tandem with the first bot and feeds it up to 300 meters (984 ft) of an extra fire hose. These two work alongside a reconnaissance and surveillance robot which can monitor their movements from the sky or the ground as well as a control system.
A multitude of technological features went into the enhancement of the robotic system. These are built on chassis frames from ‘small farm buggies,’’ and are reported to offer good suspension and top notch maneuverability. Some other features include laser sensors, GPS, and last but not the least, a fire hose. When deployed, the Water Cannon Robot can release 4,000 liters of water per minute at a 1.0MPa pressure.
The Water Cannon Robot is a four-wheel drive and can move with the Hose Extension Robot at a speed of 7.2 km/h (4.47 mph) to get to any location designated on a map. Once it gets to its place, the Water Cannon Robot stays on the site whereas the Hose Extension Robot makes its way back to a water source, such as a fire engine or a fire hydrant.
The Hose bot lays a heavy duty firehose extension with 150mm inner diameter. When everything is connected, the Water Cannon which is 2,170 x 1,460 x 2,070 mm (85.4 x 57.4 x 81.4 in) in size and 1,600 kg (3,527 lb) in weight, puts out the flames with water or foam.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has not yet revealed whether the robots will ever enter service or not, but the Firefighting Robot System was put through a performance demo in Tokyo on March 22. As per the footage available, it can be seen that the system is highly efficient and reliable. If this enters service, then we can expect the firefighting scene to change for good, saving many lives along the way.