Robot developed to see through smoke better than humans

The SmokeBot can see and navigate through smoke-filled rooms while plotting a route for firefighters with sensors and a laser scanner


By FireRescue1 Staff

OREBRO, Sweden — To aid firefighters in dangerous situations, scientists have developed a robot to navigate through smoke-filled rooms better than humans.

Digital Trends reported that scientists at Orebro University in Sweden created the SmokeBot, which utilizes gas sensors, radar, a laser scanner and a thermal camera to navigate through smoke and plot routes for firefighters.

The SmokeBot utilizes gas sensors, radar, a laser scanner and a thermal camera to navigate through smoke and plot routes for firefighters. (Photo/Orebro University)
The SmokeBot utilizes gas sensors, radar, a laser scanner and a thermal camera to navigate through smoke and plot routes for firefighters. (Photo/Orebro University)

“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,” project coordinator and computer science professor Achim Lilienthal said. “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.”

An active heat shield was also built into the robot, and it has the ability to autonomously locate Wi-Fi-connected areas in case it loses connection with the control team.

The team said they also plan to incorporate similar technology into drones, but Lilienthal said “the sensors are currently too heavy.”

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