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Firefighting robot being developed in Pensacola

Firefighting robot being developed in Pensacola

About 100 firefighters are killed in the line of duty every year. A robot being developed at Pensacola's groundbreaking Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) might one day save lives.

Researchers at IHMC are specifically working on a robot that could fight fires on ships.

Research Associate John Carff said, "When you're on a ship, there's a good chance if you're a firefighter in there fighting a fire you could get a hatch closed behind you and you're going to be stuck in a ship that's sinking."

IHMC won the use of the robot, named Atlas, through a series of challenge competitions where robots assist in disaster recovery scenarios. Now they're taking it up another level with some help from the Pensacola Fire Department.

Chief David Allen said, "The idea of the shipboard firefighting where you are contained in a metal enclosure, sending in a robot instead of a person would be a huge advantage."

The firefighters helped the robotics wizards figure out how Atlas could handle the intense pressure of the fire hose.

Carff said, "When you have those fire hoses on they're pushing back really hard and there's not many robots that can withstand that pressure. So we did a lot of development on this robot where he will fight back, if you come up and push him from the front, he's going to lean into it and he's not gonna fall over."

Atlas can even keep his balance on a rocking platform that simulates the movement of a ship. The researchers want to demonstrate what's possible so they can get funding to move the work forward.

Carff said, "It's really exciting. I can't imagine what's going to come in the next few years."

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