Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is no stranger to the development of disaster relief robots – having created a plant inspection bot and a long-necked bot to help with cleanup operations at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant a few years ago and a remotely-operated anti-explosive robot for working in gas-filled environments, for example. Now the firm has come up with a pair of firefighting robots that work together in situations deemed too hazardous for human crews. Along with a third recon robot and a command system, the Water Cannon Robot and Hose Extension Robot form part of a Firefighting Robot System.

The result of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) taking part in a 5 year project to design a response to disasters in the energy and industry fields, the Water Cannon Robot is designed to help put out blazes in difficult to reach locations, such as fires at petrochemical plants. The job of the Hose Extension Robot is to feed the Cannon bot up to 300 m (984 ft) of extra fire hose.

A dedicated transport vehicle takes the whole Firefighting Robot System – which includes a "reconnaissance and surveillance robot" that could be either an eye in the sky or a ground-based model and a control system – to where it's needed.

Both the Cannon and Hose robots have been built on the frames of small farm buggies, and are reported to offer good suspension and top notch maneuverability. Integrated GPS and laser sensors form part of an autonomous system that allows the robots to drive themselves to the location of a fire.

The four-wheel drive Water Cannon Robot can trundle along with its Hose-packing buddy at up to 7.2 km/h (4.47 mph) to get to a location designated on a map. Once there, the Cannon stays put while the Hose Extension Robot makes its way back to a water source, such as a fire engine or hydrant.

As the Hose bot it moves along, it lays out a heavy duty firehose extension with 150 mm inner diameter. When everything is connected up, the 2,170 x 1,460 x 2,070 mm (85.4 x 57.4 x 81.4 in), 1,600 kg (3,527 lb) Cannon bot soaks or suffocates the flames with water or foam, and can drench a scene with up to 4,000 liters per minute at 1 megapascal (MPa) of pressure.

MHI has not revealed if the robots will ever enter service, but the Firefighting Robot System was put through a performance demo at Tokyo's National Research Institute of Fire and Disaster on March 22. You can see the robots in action in the video below.

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