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Anna Konda, the Robotic Firefighter 94

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the civil-serpent dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "In fact, Anna Konda is a robotic fire hose moving like a snake. This robot, which has been developed in Norway by SINTEF, is 3 m long and weighs 70 kg. The snake contains 20 water hydraulic motors that move the robotic joints. And the energy needed to power these motors comes from water pressurized to 100 bars and already available inside the fire hose. This gives enough energy to this water-powered robot to climb up stairs, to lift a car up off the ground or even break through a wall. Very clever design! The designers think that this robot could not only replace humans to fight fires when it's too dangerous for them, but could also be used for subsea operations or explosion prevention. An additional overview contains more details and pictures of this snake robot."
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Anna Konda, the Robotic Firefighter

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  • by Exsam (768226)
    The next SciFi channel movie.
  • We shall need to wait a few years to see if anything practical comes out of the research.
    • In what universe is an extra firefighter not practical?
      • In what universe is an extra firefighter not practical?

        In ours, sadly. This thing is a nice concept, but TFA says it needs 100bar water. The normal pressures for firefighting are around 8-20bar, so it'd take specialised pumping equipment and hoses for it to work.

        That's not a showstopper of course, but it'd probably be cheaper just to build a conventional electric robot like Quinetiq's [qinetiq.com] Talon based firefighting bot, which can pull conventional 63mm fire hoses.

  • I'll bet there aren't ANY jokes to be made about the second pic of Pål Liljebäck with that impressive thing...
  • Imagine the possibilities!
    We could fight forest fires better
    • AND We can have drinks hooked up on one of these things and have our refreshments crawl to us!

      Or even one hooked with a drainage tube with a slight suction-device, no more restroom breaks!

      The possibilities... endless...



      All I wonder is; will the electronics be able to withstand the temperatures of a fire?
      • by ThJ (641955) <thj@thj.no> on Saturday July 22, 2006 @06:31PM (#15764234) Homepage
        Here's my translation of the Norwegian Dagbladet.no article.

        The Worlds Most Sophisticated Firehose

        (Dagbladet.no): Tenk deg en situasjon hvor du er innestengt som følge av brann, snøras eller jordskjelv, og det er for farlig for hjelpemannskapet å gå inn og redde deg. Det er da Snakefighteren Anna Konda kommer glidende inn, på skrå sidelengs som en ørkenslange.

        (Dagbladet.no): Imagine a situation where you're trapped due to a fire, snow avalaunch or earthquake, and it's too dangerous for the rescue crew to enter to save you. That's when the Snakefighter Anna Konda comes gliding in, sideways like a desert snake.

        Hun er verdens sterkeste og mest avanserte brannslange, ifølge SINTEF-forskerne Pål Liljebäck og Øyvind Stavdal som har utviklet henne.

        She's the world's strongest and most advanced firehose, according to SINTEF researchers Pål Liljebäck and Øyvind Stavdal, who developed her.

        En Anakonda av metall, smidig, sterk og smart, inspirert av naturen selv. Hun kommer hun seg frem gjennom alt slags terreng, og har sanser som en vanlig slange ikke har.

        An Anaconda of metal, agile, strong and smart, inspired by nature itself. She moves through all kinds of terrain, and has senses that a regular snake lacks.

        Hun kan heve hodet og sprute vann, slå gjennom vegger med en slagkraft på 700 kg i tyngdefeltet, løfte vekk objekter for å frigjøre fastklemte dyr eller mennesker og bringe gassmasker. Ved hjelp av infrarødt kamera, ultralyd og sensorer skal hun kunne finne kropper og kartlegge et område.

        She can lift her head and spray water, break down walls with a gravity of 700 kg, lift away objects to free trapped animals or people, and bring gas masks. With an infrared camera, ultrasound and sensors, she'll be able to find bodies and map an area.

        - Snakefighteren representerer en ny æra i brannslukning, sier Pål Liljebäck ved SINTEFs avdeling for anvendt kybernetikk til Dagbladet.no.

        - The Snakefighter represents a new era in fire extinguishing, says Pål Liljebäck at SINTEF's department for applied cybernetics to Dagbladet.no.

        Han presiserer at slangen er et verktøy, ikke en erstatning for brannfolk, for hun er ikke skapt for å dra med seg objekter.

        He notes that the snake is a tool, not a replacement for fire crews, since she wasn't created for towing objects.

        Vannhydraulikk

        Anna Konda drives av vannhydraulikk, som er nærmest et ikke-eksisterende fagfelt i dag, ifølge de to forskerne. Det vil si at det er vannkraft som driver musklene til den tre meter lange, 16 cm i diameter tjukke og 70 kilo tunge slangen. På et brannåsted kan hun tilkobles en brannslange. Er det snakk om en sammenrast bygning, kan hun ha en innebygget dieselmotor og ha med eget vann. Hun beveger seg med en hastighet på 20 - 30 cm i sekundet, men målet er en fart på en meter i sekundet.

        Anna Konda is powered by water hydraulics, a virtually non-existing field today, according to the two scientists. This means that water power is powering the "muscles" of the 3 meter long, 16 cm in diameter thick and 70 kg heavy snake. In a fire location she can be connected to a firehose. In the case of a collapsed building, she can carry her own diesel engine and her own water. She moves with a speed of 20 - 30 cm per second, but the goal is a speed of 1 meter per second.

        Slangen skal dels fjernstyres, dels ta egne avgjørelser. Hun bruker så kompliserte bevegelser at hun selv må greie føle seg frem i terrenget og beregne hvordan hun skal ta seg frem. Men en operatør skal kunne gi overordnede instrukser.

        The snake will partly be remote controlled, partly make her own decisions. She uses such complex movements that she has to feel herself through the terrain and calc

  • Movement (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Instine (963303) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @05:12PM (#15764022)
    Is there anywere in either artical that says how it moves forwards? I'm currently making a robot snake of my own, and the rectilinear motion is by far the most difficult part of the physical design. I'm assuming it uses wheel, but can tell from the images.

    Great stuff. It not entirely new though.

    This is my fave out there at the mo. Snake link (click the images for vids) [snakerobots.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    that's a porn star name if i ever heard one. perhaps a chick with dick performer..

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @05:20PM (#15764042) Homepage

    Here's the real link to the research. [sintef.no] As usual, Roland the Plogger is posting a story from a blog, maximizing ad revenue, and the actual reference has been lost. One would think that Slashdot's "editors" would be wise to this by now, but they still don't get it.

    It;s only a prototype; the water stream that comes out is more like a garden hose than a fire hose.

    • Thank you for the good link. I find it unthinkable that an article about such a device would not have a picture.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The blog of 'Roland' earns them a very tidy sum.

      It amazes me that guys like you can't see the obvious: why else would every single submission by 'Roland' get plastered on Slashdot? Why else the earlier submission of the same article (from the original sources, no less) by other submitters is always ignored?

      'Roland' is just an extension of Slashdot's marketing machine. How can you imagine otherwise?
      • I'm not denying there's a conspiracy, but this specifically has been answered before - at the times at which roland submits stories, very few other people are also submitting. I think it was zonk that usually used posted them, which happened because he was the only /. staff working at that time. /. does little editing, which everyone knows, so they don't hunt down the orignal source, they just take what they get. Roland just happens to gank some interesting stuff and probably submits en masse.

        The question
    • I ain't no plogger. Just a polymer engineer with a taste for code.
    • Funny how Roland's comments are usually modded -1, whereas he gets all his submissions accepted. See http://slashdot.org/~Roland+Piquepaille/ [slashdot.org]

      Perhaps Slashdot's editors like his, um, "writing style" better than the rest of us.

      Anyone up to writing a Firefox plugin to filter the Piquepaillespam out of Slashdot?every story he submits
    • http://www.sintef.com/upload/IKT/9023/AnnaKonda.j p g [sintef.com]

      One of those really powerful supersoaker squirt guns, but a squirt gun nonetheless.

      The segements don't appear to have enough space inside to pass a decent-sized hose, nor room for a valve to control that much water and as is pointed out in another thread, the force of the water leaving a decent size hose would move this thing out of position anyway.

      It seemed like a good idea. Now I'm not so sure it's practical.
  • 100 bars?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MArainman (766798) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @05:23PM (#15764053)
    What kind of fire engine puts out 100 bars?? That's 1450 psi! The typical city pumper is designed for 200 psi. Most of the hoses are only rated to a couple hundred. They need to seriously dial down the pressure requirements if this is to be used in any kind of existing firefighting application.
    • Re:100 bars?! (Score:3, Informative)

      Go back a bunch of decades, to the "High Pressure Fog" days. Lots of engines produced that pressure, and they used 1" boosters.

      Also, remember that this is a Euro invention. Think it's gonna have a smoothbore? A TFT?

      Nope... it'll be HPF with a 1". Europeans have been begging for a way to bring back HPF for almost a decade... and this might just be a viable way to do it. Expensive as hell, but viable.
    • I'm sure you know what you are talking about, but for the clairification of others I will explain. Fire engines pump an enormous volume of water (gpm or gallons per minute), but at relatively low pressure (around 100 psi IIRC). However, that doesn't make this useless. Your average pressure washer works the opposite way, enormous pressure but low gpm. A fire company could buy a unit capable of several thousand psi for around $1,000 at any hardware store. As another poster pointed out, this kind of syste

  • by MikeyTheK (873329) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @05:24PM (#15764057)
    It's in interesting idea, but it also has the usual drawbacks, namely it is extremely difficult to move 200 feet of 2-1/2" for a team of firefighters when the line is charged - the weight is not the only problem. A charged line is stiff (ha, ha), so moving it arount corners, into rooms, up and down stairs, etc. is very awkward. You can't just drain a line every time you want to move it. It takes too long. So, you normally have to move a line while it's completely empty (called "flaking" the line), then charge it, or after it's charged, fight with the line the whole way. On top of all that, it's very easy to kink or even twist and decouple hose, which is, of course, disasterous. Normally what we do is carry as much line as we think we are going to need to a safe zone of the structure we're fighting, then flake it into big loops right there. That way we have all the hose we need in one place, and we can just extend into the hot zone without kinking, and also dragging the charged line the minimum distance to do the work we are going to do.

    There is also the other problem: We typically charge our lines to the point where the nozzle-man's feet just leave the ground, then we ease back so they are just barely on the ground. This maximizes our flow into the area we are fighting. With a two-person nozzle team that means we have in the neighborhood of 600-700 lbs of ballast to offset the reaction force at the tip (the force of the water exiting the nozzle that is pushing back on it, which would result in the hose flying all over the place otherwise). (The 600-700 lbs is the weight of two firefighters, their bunker gear, air packs, etc.). The robot only weights 70kg, so it won't have nearly the control of the tip, which means that you can't push nearly the water.

    I could see this as a good application when trying to work in a warehouse or supermarket, where the distance from the door is large. However, the device is going to need assistance to move a great distance since the line has to be charged in order for it to function, but if the line is charged it becomes much harder to move the line. That combination seems to defeat the purpose - of keeping firefighters out of harm's way.

    Personally I'm in favor of our current option "b" - trench cut the roof (long cut perpendicular to the path of the fire, in an area we know is good), then drown the cut with water from a ladder pipe, which causes a water curtain - the good part of the building is saved by the water curtain, which means we can fight the remainder from a position of strength.
    • Keep the hose partially charged when moving, to stop kinking, then max the pressure when you get it in position. This would be a great asset when fighting shipboard fires where you do not have the optional advantage of fighting the fire from outside the structure.
    • Underwater or space is the most likely place for robotic snakes. I did enough work with them in grad school that I believe weight is going to be a big problem at least during my life time, and certainly during my grad life it was. Researchers very often have pie in the sky stories like this to tell, but I do not think them practical.
    • make a hose that can stiffen and hold its bent/curved shape when under pressure? That way you could use existing building structural components to "brace" the hose
    • Thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      Its nice to hear from people who actually know their stuff. I can't think of any other forum where that can happen.

      • I can't think of any other forum where that can happen.

        Why not? It's possible in almost any forum. I didn't realize that "most forums" banned people with knowledge from posting.

        • A lot of forums are either too narrow (which means you don't go visit them unless you're already in the trade or are seeking specific knowledge) or don't have the same volume as /. (posts and readers)

          I think that's where some of the draw of /. comes from. There's a wide selection of technology being discussed (some days) along with readers of a wide background. When those two things mix, sometimes you get knowledgeable comments.

          It ain't perfect, but it works most of the time. And sometimes you learn
    • I don't think 3m is the target length, just a test. Imagine an entire firehose made of a few hundred of these things end to end. It could reach any point in a building *ON ITS OWN*.
    • by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @04:11AM (#15765283) Journal
      Hey, if they can make a deuce-and-a-half that can get itself up 3 or 4 flights of stairs... I'm all for it. If they can make this thing go *down* a flight of stairs into a basement... I'm all for it.

      There's just a couple of caveats, however -

      1. Typical hose lengths on an engine (in the US, at least) are 150', 200', and 400', made up of either 50' or 100' segments. There's no way in hell the entire length of hose will contain a "snake" exoskel as someone had suggested... meaning you'd probably have several snakes separated by "normal" hose lengths. This stuff needs to fit on the truck, somewhere... and a mere human needs to deploy it WITHOUT a Genie-lift.

      2. The unit only operates when the line is charged. As Mikey said, that means the entire length of the line is rigid; typical fire streams run at +60 psi (plus additional for friction loss and altitude) for a smoothbore, or up to 160 for a "taskforce" (fog) style tip. Such pressures are not condusive to bending. Combined with having a coupling every 50' along the length of the hose, which invariably get snagged on every corner or edge they find... the idea of this device pulling the hose behind it has some serious challenges.

      3. Speaking of bending, it'd be interesting to see how this device would be stored on the truck. A flat-load is probably out of the question... and space on a truck is typically at a premium. I assume the "snake" would retain it's circular cross-section, compared with a typical hose which squashes flat.

      4. Somewhere, there was mention of a camera at the head of the unit. Since your typical CCD is useless in a smoke condition... your starting price for vision is $13k for a bolometer, and that's just the sensor. By the time you've added everything else needed for vision, including the "Motorola Floating Decimal Point", remote-vision will probably top $25k, easily. (And yes, I'm pulling numbers out of my butt. However, your typical bolometer-based TIC will run about $16k-$23k for a hand-held unit, and those are mass-produced. Remove the production volume, separate the sensor from the display by 200', realize that "wireless" is not an option, invent a cabling system that'll withstand 1000+ deg...) I don't see anyone who could afford to run this thing via remote vision.

      5. I *WILL* disagree with Mikey on the Noz-Reaction argument. He's right, but sadly he lives in TFT-land:

      5a. Water weighs 8lbs per gallon; whatever your reaction force is, you need merely have adequate water-weight in the hose on the ground, behind you. (Yes, that description was awful). I weigh 130lbs soaking wet, and can solo a deuce and a half at 170psi with a TFT. Don't ask me to move it while it's flowing water, but once in position... I can solo it without any effort, and maintain control over a 30 degree arc. The trick is to have the line continue *straight* behind you for a few meters, such that the hose jacket takes the compression from the reaction force; meanwhile, residuals keep the jacket from kinking, and mass & ground friction prevent the hose from sliding backwards. It's not appropriate in many places (e.g. if a tight corner is involved), but it's effective in others. Barn fires and corridors, for example :)

      5b. Pressure isn't volume, especially with a Thinker nob. Most thinkers intend 120lbs (or whatever) at the tip, and they clamp anything above that. Remind your guys that the typical Taskforce Tip has Thinker built into it, so the excess pressure is NOT increasing the GPM; you crank it up, the Thinker chokes it down at the bale. Most TFTs don't have a visible control for this device, but many Master devices do. Take a look at the deck gun on your engine - it probably has an adjustable GPM collar. So long as you meet the minimum pressure for the tip, it doesn't matter what pressure you dump into it - if you set the collar at 900 gpm, you'll GET 900 gpm. It won't matter if you're at 130psi or 250psi... you'll get 900gpm. Most TFTs contain this device (it's a selling point), but it's f
  • by niteice (793961)
    I have HAD it with this motherfucking hose on this motherfucking fire truck!
  • Her greatest nemesis: Flameosapien [evosapien.com]!
  • The robot war had been lost... We destroyed unmanned aircraft, and beat back the evil spider bots... But these damn snakes kept crushing our skulls and spraying water all over our carcasses, making them wet.
  • by Salsaman (141471) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @06:07PM (#15764165) Homepage
    Hmmm...this looks like the kind of handy tool Kryten would be able to attach to his "groinal socket".
  • Want pictures? (Score:5, Informative)

    by scdeimos (632778) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @06:38PM (#15764252)

    Due to the complete lack of pictures in the source article, here's some for your appetite...

    Anna Konda in action [sintef.com] (JPEG, 844x453)

    Close-up of a segment [dagbladet.no] (JPEG, 280x210)

  • Would any ladies in the Slashdot community care to comment on other applications of this robotic snake?

  • Ann Coulter? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by sweetnjguy29 (880256)
    Oh wait, thats the fire breathing mindless snake.
  • Other snake 'bots (Score:3, Informative)

    by HoneyBeeSpace (724189) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @07:20PM (#15764379) Homepage
    For some other snake robots, check out these links:

    http://www.snakerobots.com/ [snakerobots.com]

    http://arctangent.8k.com/snake/snakemain.htm [8k.com]
  • Afraid (Score:3, Funny)

    by hritcu (871613) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @10:18PM (#15764730) Homepage
    Great ... but what about the many people who are afraid of snakes? How is the anna konda going to help them overcoming their fear? Hssssssssssssss ...
  • Anyone remember the self-assembling, fire-fighting tube / triangle things in Metropolis? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolis_(2001_film ) [wikipedia.org]
  • But... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 23, 2006 @08:51AM (#15765648)
    Does it run Python?
  • Why does this remind me of the kool-aid pitcher?

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