Japan always seems to be years ahead of the rest of the world when it comes robotics, and researchers at the Tohoku University and Hachinohe College are proving it. Their latest invention is the DragonFireFighter, a robotic snake-like robot capable of flying itself to hard to reach places to extinguish fires.
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The DragonFireFighter was revealed at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May. It works using the same principle that sends your garden hose flying when you turn it on and the water blasts the hose all over the place. Using algorithms to control jets of water allow the robot snake to "fly".
The demonstration video of the DragonFireFighter shows the robot in action but it still requires a little help from researchers to reach the fire. The video certainly establishes proof of concept and it is likely we see some type of variation of the DragonFireFighter used in the near future. With a little more hose and some design tweaks, the DragonFireFighter seems like it would be capable of reaching just about any fire it could need to without putting a human life in harm's way.
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Evan Ackerman at IEEE Spectrum said, "Fires have an unfortunate habit of happening in places that aren't necessarily easy to reach. Like other snake robots, this one has the potential to be able to wiggle its way into windows or other gaps in a structure, with the benefit of carrying and directing water as it goes." A variation of the jet-stream powered craft exists in the form of entertainment already.
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