When firefighters are interested in robotics

Since the Notre Dame fire in Paris, the country and citizens have continued to cheer the firefighters and congratulate their bravery.

Besides the fact that Notre Dame is a historical monument, and moreover, the most visited in Europe, the popularity of this mythical place has pushed the media to film the firefighters in action fighting the fire.

For a rare moment on television, we saw firefighters in action, and this profession has enjoyed a resurgence in the face of this massive fire that has kept the international community in turmoil.


What use are robots for firefighters?

It’s clear that firefighting remains a profession full of risks. Indeed, over the last ten years, there were 109 deaths in service (according to the ODP,  the “Oeuvre des Pupilles Orphelins” (Student Society of Firefighters)).

So, today, what innovations used by firefighters allow them to be more operational while preserving their safety?


Colossus, the robot with a quiet force

At first glance, we wouldn’t bet on this robot. Small (2 meters long, 1.5 meters wide) and slow (3.5 km/hour), it’s used to determine a situational analysis during a fire. Excessive temperatures and the power of backdrafts make it dangerous or impossible to immerse humans in a highly flammable area.

By sending it to the heart of the flames, it can drastically reduce the temperature and accelerate fire extinction. Small but strong, it can release up to 3000 liters of water per minute. Its thermal camera helps it to detect the emission of dangerous gases and allows it to give accurate information to the firefighters. Weighing no less than 500 kg, it can also carry equipment and evacuate the wounded.


Who is behind this revolution in fire management?

Shark Robotics is a French company that developed Colossus. Their goal was to provide firefighters with reliable and independent support. With its 10 hours of autonomy, it can be controlled remotely over a range of five kilometers and can support a load of one ton.

Still in the testing phase in Paris and Bordeaux, the company now plans to market this robot in Marseille and Charleroi (Belgium).


GPS built into fire trucks

The initiative can make you smile. However, it can be very useful. Since the summer of 2018, 95% of firefighting vehicles in the Haute-Marne have been equipped with it. Geolocation is a system well-known to the general public since it allows individuals and vehicles to be in an area and find routes according to the parameters set. 

For firetrucks, this onboard system makes it possible to geolocate fire hydrants and the position of the nearest trucks. In the long term, this innovation will notably reduce the time from departure to arrival during a fire on affected places.

It remains to be seen whether these same robots will also be able to replace firefighters for their schedule… It’s doubtful this robot knows so much passion.


To read: Will our mobility be increased with Big Data?