Fighting fire with prototype robots

19th April 2017
Alice Matthews

Prototypes of two firefighting robots have been developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI): the 'Water Cannon Robot' and the 'Hose Extension Robot'. They are expected to play an active role in situations where it is difficult for firefighters to approach, for example at fires in petrochemical facilities. The 'Water Cannon Robot' can effectively extinguish fires where people cannot reach, while the 'Hose Extension Robot' automatically lays out up to 300m of fire hose to supply water to the 'Water Cannon Robot'.

These two models constitute the 'Firefighting Robot System', which works in conjunction with a reconnaissance robots and a command system. They are designed to be easily installed on a fire engine so they can be moved on-site.

The 'Firefighting Robot System' has been developed through participation in a project led by Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency, launched in FY2014 as part of its five year plan. A demonstration of the primary prototype robots that have been completed under the project took place today at the National Research Institute of Fire and Disaster in Tokyo, showcasing each robots capabilities and performance.

MHI's two robot models are built around small agricultural buggies, which provide robust suspension and high running performance. The robots can be autonomously controlled, and are equipped with GPS (Global Positioning System) and laser sensors mounted on their frames. They are also equipped with sophisticated technology that enables them to travel in tandem towards the source of a fire, with a fire hose connecting them.

The Water Cannon Robot has a nozzle for discharge of water or foam, and can discharge 4,000l/min at a pressure of 1.0MPa. The Hose Extension Robot can mount up to 300m of fire hose with a 150mm inner diameter (nominal diameter 150A), and ensures proper laying by automatically paying out and winding in the rigid, heavy (2kg/m) hose as required to match the robot's movement on the intended path including turning angles.

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