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The Boston Globe


Building a robot firefighter

Navy, colleges take up the challenge of creating robots for dangerous duty

Before the year is out, the Navy will start a fire on one of its ships and send in a robot to put it out.

Designed at Virginia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot, or SAFFiR, is a two-legged machine built to climb stairs and open watertight hatches just like a human. But Dennis Hong, one of SAFFiR’s developers, said the robot is built to withstand flames and smoke that humans might not survive.

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