Monster Machines: The Robotic Mini-Tank That Extinguishes Deadly Fires

Sometimes a fire is too dangerous for the fire department. Whether it's the risk of an explosion, work on a surface that could collapse or the presence of hazardous chemicals, a firefighter is always vulnerable. Now, when conditions pose too great a risk for a human, we can enlist a tank. A robot tank. The Howe and Howe T2-Thermite.

Nearly 1.5m tall and 1.8m long, the Thermite is a 744kg mobile fire extinguisher capable of dragging more than 450kg behind it. The steel vehicle is outfitted with treads so that it can endure any surface the situation throws at its feet. The Thermite can unload 2200 litres of water every minute in whatever direction its controller orders — from as far as 400m away.

But what would this thing be used for? For starters, this could help extinguish a car or a truck that has caught fire. Or it could be a first responder at the site of a train wreck. Or if there's a situation where a chemical plant has caught fire, the Thermite could help assess the risk and suppress the flames. At $US96,000 a bot, the Howe isn't cheap, but relative to the cost of a firefighter's life, it's a bargain. [Howe and Howe via Wired]

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