Qrob is another of those robots that have come to take our jobs. In its prototype it has a Go Pro camera, a pair of sensors to detect flames and locate obstacles, a navigation system that includes an engine, an Arduino controller and a transmitter for remote control, and a couple of containers that pump water and liquid extinguisher, respectively. It is a stroller that wants to be a fireman.
"Qrob can extinguish fire without making it necessary for firefighters [humanos] expose themselves to unnecessary dangers, "says the team of researchers from the Malaysian Institute of Technology in paper that accompanies the presentation of the project, published at International Journal of Advanced Computer and Science Applications (IJACSA).
Firefighter robots not only have the obvious advantage of reducing the lives that are put into play during the tasks of extinction, as is already being done with the use of drones that fly over the flames without the need of crew members. "Qrob is designed to have a more compact size than other conventional firefighters, so it can fit into small entry points and achieve a greater range in extinguishing fires in confined spaces."
This extinguishing vehicle is programmed to determine the location of the flames and stop 40 centimeters from them. In addition, although it can be operated with remote control, it incorporates ultrasonic sensors to avoid hitting obstacles and other surrounding objects.
Although the small Qrob is for now a model prior to the development of a commercial solution, the market has already integrated other firefighters robots, such as Thermite, which gains in size and also in power. More than a stroller, it is a tank completely armored to the heat, able to overcome slopes of up to 70%, remote control up to a kilometer away and with force to tow loads of almost 800 kilos.
Another fireman robot that has also hit the market is Firerob. This machine, developed in Croatia within a European project, is also designed to act autonomously, in fires where conditions are too risky for human intervention: nuclear power plants, chemical facilities, refineries … Firerob is able to advance to the entrails of the fire, navigate the environment, recognize objects and remove those materials that are particularly flammable or dangerous.
A single robot is not enough, for example when the fire affects large forest areas. But many robots together can hinder more than they help if they are not coordinated. At this point comes the intelligence of swarms. Algorithms are applied to this task that assign a location to each autonomous vehicle and control their relative distances, so that the displacement distances are minimized and the optimal routes are traced to avoid collisions.