NRL scientists have designed a robot, which can move autonomously throughout the ship and fight fires
Scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have formed an interdisciplinary team to develop a humanoid robot that could fight fires on the next generation of combatants. A humanoid-type robot was chosen because it was deemed best suited to operate within the confines of an environment that was designed for human mobility and offered opportunity for other potential warfighting applications within the Navy and Marine Corps.
The firefighting robot, called the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR), is being designed to move autonomously throughout the ship, interact with people, and fight fires, handling many of the dangerous firefighting tasks that are normally performed by humans. The humanoid robot should be able to manoeuvre well in the narrow passages and ladder ways that are unique to a ship and challenging for older, simpler robots to navigate.
The robot is designed with enhanced multi-modal sensor technology for advanced navigation and a sensor suite that includes a camera, gas sensor, and stereo infrared (IR) camera to enable it to see through smoke. Its upper body will be capable of manipulating fire suppressors and throwing propelled extinguishing agent technology (PEAT) grenades. It is battery powered that holds enough energy for 30 minutes of firefighting. Like a sure-footed sailor, the robot will also be capable of walking in all directions, balancing in sea conditions and traversing obstacles.
Another key element of the SAFFiR development is to allow damage control personnel and the robot to work cohesively as a team. Algorithms are being developed to allow autonomous mobility and decision-making by the robot as a team member. To enable natural interaction with a human team leader, the robot will have multi-modal interfaces that will enable the robot to track the focus of attention of the human team leader, as well as to allow the robot to understand and respond to gestures, such as pointing and hand signals. Where appropriate, natural language may also be incorporated as well as other modes of communication and supervision.
Researchers from Virginia Tech and University of Pennsylvania are also working with NRL on the project. They plan to test the firefighting robot in a realistic firefighting environment onboard the ex-USS Shadwell late in September 2013. Committee on Security (CCS) to float global tender to import two submarines. Time in obtaining CCS approval is of essence, as the ‘acceptance of necessity’ for P-75I is valid only up to August 2012, failing which the acquisition process would suffer another delay of two years or more.
If July 26, 2009, was a watershed for indigenous design and development of nuclear submarine, end February 2012 will be heralded as the major milestone, when 6,000 tonne, INS Arihant began sea acceptance trials (SATS), after successful culmination of ‘harbour acceptance trials’ phase. The SATS and extensive missile trials are expected to extend over six months, on completion of which, the first indigenous nuclear submarine will be commissioned. Arihant, the first in the series of three SSBNs should be inducted into the Indian Navy by the end of 2012, to emerge as the most effective third leg of the nuclear triad. Arihant is said to be carrying 12 x K-15 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) with a range of 750 km, with both conventional and nuclear warheads. Additionally, it will be fitted for carrying conventional torpedoes and anti-ship and land attack cruise missiles. Reportedly at a later stage, Arihant and its two successor SSBNs will be fitted for under development 3,500km, K-4 submarine launched ballistic missiles, a sea-based version of the Agni-III with enhanced-range to provide credible second strike capability. To acquire much needed training and operating philosophy of nuclear powered submarine, ahead of Republic Day 2012, INS Chakra, leased Russian Akula-II class SSN, Nerpa was commissioned. Chakra will be equipped with Klub missiles with a range of 300 km, four standard-sized torpedo tubes and will be with Indian Navy on a 10-year lease. Reports suggest that Indian Navy has plans for three SSBNs and six SSNs to acquire credible second strike capability, in the long run. The Indian Navy has on order 12 Boeing P-8I, long-range maritime reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare (LRMRASW) aircraft. These would be delivered by 2015. In a major boost to the Indian Navy’s naval aviation modernisation plan, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has recently approved the procurement of nine medium-range maritime reconnaissance (MRMR) planes worth $1 billion and the limited series production of nine carrier-borne LCA (Navy), Tejas to operate from IAC. The acceptance of necessity for nine MRMR aircraft after evaluating data provided by global vendors in response to the request for information (RFI) was issued almost a year ago. The original requirement was for six aircraft which has now been increased to nine. The MRMR deal will also have an option for additional planes, if needed by the Indian Navy in future. The request for proposals (RFPs) or tenders is expected to be issued in second or third quarter of the year. Earlier, the RFI for MRMR aircraft was issued to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, ATR, Saab, Airbus, Casa, Embraer, Bombardier and Dassault.
The nine LCA (Navy) for the 40,000 tonne IAC will be produced by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). IAC, which is currently under construction at the Cochin Shipyard Ltd, will deploy about 30 combat aircraft in short takeoff but arrested landing (STOBAR) configuration. The LCA (Navy) prototypes have General Electric F404 engines providing about 80 kilonewtons of power that Indian Navy feels is inadequate for a carrier-borne combat aircraft. There are serious misgivings that the indigenous LCA (Navy) Mk.1 may never actually land on an aircraft carrier, as reportedly, the aircraft is too underpowered for safe carrier operations. Therefore, India’s first home-built car-