The widespread use of robots to fight fires or help rescue fire victims is drawing near, as scientists are making impressive advances in the field, designing machines that can either put out the flames or scout the affected buildings for structural damage or dangerous spots.

The latter category has just grown by one, as scientists from the University of California San Diego have designed an impressive machine nicknamed FFR or the Firefighting Robot.

Meet FFR: the Firefighting Robot Scout

FFR is a two-wheeled self-balancing robot that looks a lot like a Segway. This autonomous machine was designed specifically to be able to scout burning buildings and help save the lives of victims and even firefighters.

Designed to be agile, mobile and act as a recon agent, the Firefighting Robot will be the first to enter a burning building and scout the interior before the firefighters enter. The FFR’s central leg will allow it to climb stairs or move over large obstacles.

The machine is equipped with stereoscopic vision, having two RGB cameras plus an infrared video camera. The footage it captures will be turned into a 3D map complete with temperature information, to indicate what hot spots the rescue teams should avoid.

The map could also show whether there are people trapped inside a burning building and pinpoint their location, so that firefighters know exactly where to look for them after they enter. The FFR will be equipped with other sensors as well, in order to provide information on the building’s structural integrity and whether there are any volatile gases present.

All the collected data would be transmitted to the firefighters in real time, which will significantly lower the risks they face when entering an unknown building in flames.  What’s truly impressive is that the FFR is designed to be autonomous and thus be able to move by itself and make some low-level decisions, for increased efficiency.

See the Firefighting Robot in action in this video and let us know what you think in the comments below:

[Image via EEJournal]