SmokeBot robot can see things human firefighters can’t in smoke-filled rooms

Along with dirty and dull work, robots are also ideal for dangerous tasks, where it’s preferable to risk a machine than send in humans. Chief among these? Entering smoke-filled buildings where a fire has broken out to aid with rescue operations one that could nonetheless be extremely useful in an emergency situation like a house fire or indoor gas leak. SmokeBot is able to see and navigate in smoky areas while plotting maps of its surroundings for assisting fire services or search-and-rescue teams. To do this, it uses a combination of gas sensors, radar, a laser scanner, and a thermal camera. A similar robot is already being used by rescue services in Vienna, but it is only equipped with a robot arm and regular camera.

“We target robots operating in low-visibility environments, a scenario where robots could be very helpful, but in which it was not possible to use them prior to SmokeBot,” Achim Lilienthal, project coordinator and professor of Computer Science at Sweden’s Örebro University, told Digital Trends. “To enable using robots in low-visibility scenarios — with a lot of smoke or dust, for example — we developed novel sensors and perception and cognitive approaches tailored to those sensors.”

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