In a groundbreaking development, Japanese researchers have unveiled a revolutionary robotic entity designed to combat fires in hazardous environments, aptly named the Dragon Firefighter. Shaped in the likeness of mythical flying dragons, these robots are envisioned to join firefighting teams globally, tackling blazes too perilous for human intervention.
Published in the journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI, the blueprints for the aerial firefighting hose robot are now accessible as Open Science. This move allows roboticists worldwide to freely utilize the plans, fostering collaboration for the collective benefit of firefighting technology. The project, initiated in 2016 by a team from Professor Satoshi Tadokoro’s lab at Tohoku University, involved collaboration with Japanese firefighting professionals to tailor the robot to their specific requirements.
The Dragon Firefighter prototype boasts a length of four meters and is remotely controllable. Positioned two meters above ground, its firehose relies on eight adjustable water jets at its central and head regions. The flexible nozzle adapts to the fire’s direction, guided by a control unit on a wheeled cart linked to a fire truck with a substantial water reservoir. The nozzles expel water at a rate of 6.6 liters per second, reaching pressures of up to one megapascal.
Integrated with both traditional and thermal imaging cameras at the hose’s tip, the Dragon Firefighter enhances firefighting capabilities. Its inaugural test during the World Robot Summit 2020 proved successful in extinguishing a ceremonial flame from a distance of four meters.
Since then, researchers have diligently worked on improving the robot’s design. Feedback from the initial test led to adjustments in the dampening mechanism and addressed issues related to heat-induced deformations in the corrugated tube housing the water hose and electric cables. The ongoing development aims to enhance waterproofing, nozzle versatility, and water flow channeling mechanisms.
The team acknowledged obstacles despite these gains, especially in terms of extending the robot’s operational reach beyond 10 meters. Within the next ten years, robotic firefighting technology should be used in real-world situations, assuming these obstacles are resolved and efficient tactics that are customized for the Dragon Firefighter’s special talents are developed. A safer and more effective method of putting out dangerous fires is promised by the combination of state-of-the-art technology and firefighting knowledge, which represents a major advancement in worldwide firefighting capabilities.