United States' first firefighting robot tackles a building fire in LA
The Los Angeles Fire Department has welcomed aboard a new member of the team, rolling out a robotic firefighter for its first day of service. The Thermite RS3 is a remote-controlled rover capable of pumping out thousands of gallons of water a minute, with these capabilities tested on its very first day on the job.
The Thermite RS3 is produced by Maine-based robotics firm Textron: Howe & Howe Technologies and is a 3,500-lb (1,600-kg) industrial robot capable of trundling along at eight mph (12.9 km). It is powered by a 36-hp diesel engine and offers 20 hours of operation on each tank, with a plow blade attached to the front should obstacles, such as cars, need to be cleared from its path.
Using a hose that stretches 300 ft (91-m) horizontally or 150 ft (45 m) vertically, the Thermite RS3 is built to douse flames via a nozzle that allows for 2,500 gallons (9,500 L) of water to flow per minute. Operators control the robot remotely using a belly-pack controller, which relays a HD video stream for guidance. You can get a look at this perspective below.
LA’s Fire Department officially introduced the Thermite RS3 at a press conference on Tuesday, but note that the machine had already been put to work that morning helping put out a commercial fire. The robot is carried to scenes such as this in a dedicated trailer, with the members of the fire department now trained in how to handle it.
The department notes that the robot won’t be suited to all kinds of tasks, but does hope to put it to use on fires in large commercial buildings, wood-framed construction sites, wildfires, animal rescues, and fuel tanker fires, to list a few examples.
The video below offers a look at the robot after being towed out for its first day on the job.
Source: Los Angeles Fire Department