by Maria Hartas, DCMME Graduate Assistant

The entire world watched the devastating fire at Notre Dame de Paris. Amidst the reporters and firefighters was Colossus, a firefighting robot. As the Paris Fire Brigade withdrew its human firefighters in fear of the building collapsing, a caterpillar-tracked tank-bot was the solution the team needed.

Colossus was connected to a hose and pumped water into the air and onto the flames with its water cannon.

Why robo-firefighters?

Colossus was able to help fight the flames in a way firefighters couldn’t. For one, robots can handle the heat as a human can’t. Furthermore, a robo-firefighter creates a safety buffer between the firefighter and the hazardous environment, allowing firefighters to strategically plan their next steps without the threat of direct contact with fire. Additionally, one robot is can replace up to thirteen people; on average, up to three people would be needed to operate Colossus’ water cannon and roughly ten people would need to carry the hose when full of water.

At two-and-a-half feet tall, weighing 1,000 pounds, Colossus is a multi-talented robot; it can rescue someone, offer high-definition, thermal-view, night-vision live feed, and tear bars for forcible entry. In addition to Colossus on the ground, air drones helped firefighters from above. A dangerous, life-threatening event, like the fire at Notre Dame de Paris, was able to be contained with no casualties, and we can consider technology in the form robotic reinforcements a crucial contributor to the firefighter team’s success.

How can robots fight fire?

Can robots and humans work together?

What are the strengths of robo-firefighters?