Could robots fight fires instead of humans?

This article is published in collaboration with Quartz.

Looking like a cross between a Transformer and one of those machines that wraps up Christmas trees, a new robot is being tested by the New South Wales Fire and Rescue department.

The TAF 20—short for Turbine Aided Firefighting—is a robot built in partnership by the Italian engineering firm EmiControls and the German firefighting firm Magirus. It cost the Australian state $310,000,according to a release.

The fire-fighting robot can shoot out mists of water or foam from 60 meters (197 feet) or jets of water from 90 meters (295 feet) away. It was first deployed at a fire in Sydney last week, and will be used for brushfires this coming summer.

“This puts FRNSW [Fire & Rescue New South Wales] firefighters ahead of the game when it comes to managing hazardous fires and other emergencies where firefighters cannot safely approach the flames, for example when there is a danger of explosion,” Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said in the release.

Elliot said that the TAF 20 also has a bulldozer blade that can be used to clear debris.

Perhaps in the future, between the TAF 20 and other robots in development, we won’t need to put humans in danger when fighting fires: ABC News said that similar robots are also in place in Germany and Mexico.
Hopefully it doesn’t misidentify threats like other municipal robots have, or we’ll all end up soaking wet.

Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Mike Murphy is a reporter at Quartz, covering technology.

Image: Firefighters attempt to extinguish a bushfire at the Windsor Downs Nature Reserve, near Sydney. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz.

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