New Navy robot being developed to help fight ship fires

ASH would do what drones do on battlefield

SAN DIEGO - New robot technology is being developed to help fight fires on Navy ships.  

The fire alarm is something no one on a ship wants to hear and firefighters in the Navy undergo extensive training. However, in the not too distant future, they could be joined by ASH, which stands for Automated Shipboard Humanoid.

"We'll be able to interact with a human firefighter with hand signals and things of that sort," said Brian Lattimer, a Virginia Tech engineer.

The idea is to have the robot do what drones now do on the battlefield: to get a lay of the land as well as take action.  

"I think the first time we told them our idea it did take some convincing," said Lattimer.

Right now, only the lower half has been completed but it had to have the shape of a human.

"To step over those kinds of obstacles and be able to navigate on a ship that was designed for humans," said Lattimer.

The robot is being designed to not only go in first and start fighting fire but work alongside its human counterparts. Also, it will not get sea sick.

"It will have an internal gyro to be able to adjust to what the conditions are so it can automatically balance itself," said Lattimer.

The first big test for ASH will be on a decommissioned ship in Alabama to locate a fire on its own and work alongside humans.

They hope to start testing on the decommissioned ship in about a year with the goal of eventually having a robo-firefighter on every Navy ship.

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