The Robotics and Mechanisms Lab, or RoMeLa, of Virginia Tech is working on a three-year project with ONR on demonstrating a humanoid robotic platform capable of fighting fires on naval ships.

Called SAFFiR, the robot currently is only a pair of legs, but through annual demonstrations the research lab aims to build a full-sized system to fight fires.

"By the end of the third year, we need to do a demonstration in a very controlled environment," says Dennis Hong, director of RoMeLa and a professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech.

Titanium springs in the robots legs will allow it to walk in a more human-like, dynamic fashion, says Hong.

Robocup winner SAFFiR gets a kick out of being here

The work the lab is doing on the SAFFiR builds upon the lab's recent success at RoboCup 2011, the premier international robotic soccer competition. With robots in both the small and large categories of competition, Virginia Tech became the first US university to ever win the competition, after two years of dominance by Germany and five years prior to that by Japan. Winning the Louis Vuitton Cup, awarded to the team at RoboCup, had special significance to Hong.

"I personally want to believe it has a symbolic meaning that shows the shift in [who is the] humanoid robot superpower from Japan to Germany to the US"

The firefighting robot will first be demonstrated using the large model soccer robot, called CHARLI, says Hong.

The hardware of the team's smaller robot, DARWIN OP, an open platform system, is currently for sale through South Korean company Robotis.

Source: Flight Daily News