Scientists Are Bringing Fallout’s Protectron to Life With This Firefighting Robot

Thursday, 18 February 2016 - 8:19PM
Robotics
Science of Sci-Fi
Thursday, 18 February 2016 - 8:19PM
Scientists Are Bringing Fallout’s Protectron to Life With This Firefighting Robot
Fallout 4 was literally one of the best videogames of 2015, earning itself a nomination for the title but ultimately losing out to the Witcher 3. It's open world, futuristic sci-fi narrative featuring mutants of nuclear radiation, alien technology, clones, and, of course, robots, made it one of the coolest and most popular games in recent history. Now, one of those robots might be coming to life in the form of SAFFiR - an autonomous, firefighting robot first developed by researchers at Virginia Tech.



The robot bears a striking resemblance not only visually, but also in purpose, to one of Fallout 4's many robots: Protectron. Protectrons are robots of the world of Fallout, designed to come to life and provide autonomous assistance for a number of things: medical care, security, and of course, firefighting. Granted, it doesn't seem like the researchers behind SAFFiR got the idea for their robot from Fallout, but it's still pretty awesome that yet another staple of science-fiction is about to become a reality in the realm of science-fact.

The purpose of SAFFiR is to autonomously put out fires in sea-faring vessels. It's 6 feet tall and weighs 140 lbs., and in previous experiments has shown the ability to locate fires, walk towards them, and then put them out using a firehose. A grant of $600,000 has been given to the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) from the Office of Naval Research in hopes that they'll continue to work out the kinks in Protectron (err, SAFFiR) so that it'll be able to better perform its intended functions. Even though it has been able to do quite a lot experimentally, it's still a long way from being able to perform efficiently in real life situations. Hopefully, WPI will be able to improve the robots maneuverability and AI, which is what's currently needed in order for SAFFiR to become a totally viable product.

If so, it could revolutionize the way that not only the Navy looks at handling emergencies, but also multiple other industries. After SAFFiR is proven to work onboard a ship, who's to say there won't be versions made for various types of work zones, laboratories, or even regular office buildings? Maybe in the future, each public building won't just come equipped with a fire extinguisher, but a Protectron as well. As long as they're not equipped with lasers and they don't start drilling their pointy, three-pronged hands into human beings, that'd be pretty sweet.
Science
Artificial Intelligence
Robotics
Science of Sci-Fi

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