Mitsubishi Tests Robot Triumvirate for Industrial Fires

A trio of robots from Mitsubishi has been developed and tested to quell industrial mishaps before they become disasters.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industry (MHI) has introduced a three-robot package built to combat intense fires in hard-to-reach locations, such as petrochemical plants and nuclear reactors.

After five years of research, MHI unveiled its Water Cannon Robot, its Hose Extension Robot, and a reconnaissance robot during a demonstration at the National Research Institute of Fire and Disaster in Tokyo.

According to MHI, both the Hose Extension and Water Cannon Robots “are built on chassis frames modified from small farm buggies that offer strong suspension combined with outstanding road maneuvering. The frames are equipped with GPS and laser sensors that together enable autonomously controllable movement. With the integration of advanced technologies, the robots are able to self-drive directly to the scene of a fire.”

During the demonstration the robotic tandem worked in lockstep with the Hose robot, laying down 300m of rigid, heavily constructed 150mm diameter hose. With its hose ready, the Cannon robot engaged its nozzle and shot forth fire suppressant at a rate of 4,000 liters per minute, extinguishing the imaginary blaze it was conscripted to staunch.

As envisioned by MHI engineers, the third robot in this firefighting triumvirate, the reconnaissance bot, would be used to locate the source of a blaze in a real-world scenario and help guide its fellow bots to their base via GPS.

Whether MHI intends to develop these robots for distribution at facilities that handle volatile and energetic chemicals is up for debate. The company didn’t mention a strategy for producing these bots in its literature, but needless to say, if another Fukushima Daiichi meltdown were to occur, robots like these could be critical in stopping a problem before it spirals into a man-made disaster.