1. #1
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    Default Future Fire Fighters

    I am realy blown away by the relentless march of technology. We are so close to some very extream technology wich will very likely change the face if the fire service forever.

    I am a sort of technology geek and extream technology optimist. I dont know how it works, but I can imagine all sorts of possibilities.

    This Japanese development realy gets me thinking.

    http://sanlab.kz.tsukuba.ac.jp/HAL/indexE.html

    HAL (Hybrid Assistive Leg)

    This is a powered exoskeleton designed to give the disabled mobility. Very impressive considering that the US military has been working on this for many years with the intention of outfitting soldiers with power suits. The US efforts (EHPA Exoskeletons for Human Performance Augmentation) are at a lab called Sarcross in CO IIRC, at Oak Ridge National Labs (the guys that brough us the A bomb), and at Berkly. Related work is also going on at MIT.

    But, it seems that the Japanese have beat us to this technology, not surprising with their societies fasination with robots and such.

    Here is what I envision for the Fire Service, could happen as soon as 2010, or maybe even 2005 if we pushed for it.

    The fire ensamble for the fire fighter might go something like this in a few years.

    - Under garment that circulates coolant to keep the FF cool and to reduce heat stress. Borrowed from NASA space suit.

    - Full body exoskelton giveing greatly enhanced strenght and endurance, maybe even greater mobility. The US military project hopes to give soldiers the ability to leap 2 stories high! The exoskelton will give at least 3-5 hours of operating time on a single power pack. It will give you the strenght to lift 1000 pounds, tear the doors off of cars, and carry 200 pounds of gear like you were wareing your tighty whities!

    - SCBA system useing technology again from NASA. There are various types which may lead to air supplies lasting for hours.

    - PPE outer shell useing next generation technology. They will give extream protection in nearly any conditions. It might have sensors that tell the FF how hot things are getting and give warnings when things get into the redzone.

    - Helmet with integrarted SCBA facepiece and integrated sterioscopic thermal imaging. A projected heads up display will give you complete visibility in all sorts of nasty conditions. It might be hard to make this one out of leather...

    - Integrated communications and telemetry equipment. Next generations radios combined with telemetry could give your location, heart rate, PPE temperature, real time TIC video, etc... anything you want could be relaid to your IC and you backup.

    All of these technologies combined would result in a firefighter that could pick up a VW Beetle, run up 100 stories of stairs without breaking a sweat, breach walls with his armored hands, is fireproof in extream conditions, can survice in toxic/leathal atmospheres for hours on end, can see in comeplete darkness and smoke, carry a 400 pound victim to safety with little effort, and when the day is done just drop in a fresh battery to be ready to rock agian.

    Sounds a lot like superman. Fire Fighters are heroes, but soon enough they may become SUPER HEROES!!!
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    Here is a EHPA DARPS link, the US program for exoskeleton technology.

    http://www.darpa.mil/dso/thrust/matdev/ehpa.htm
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    Umm, no thanks. I'll keep my Morning Pride gear and Cairns helemt. Works for me.

    It would be amazing though if you can actually do that kind of stuff it says. But again, I wouldn't want any part of that.

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    No promblem, I will volunteer to wear your robot suit!

    I could go into the whole "Tradition unimpeded by progress" tag line, but this is understandably a little more radical then the leather Vs. tactical tupperware debate.

    Seriously, I would love to be the test pilot for this stuff, IMO it is possibly the coolest concept in fire fighting.
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    Looks pretty intense to me! But as we hear all the time now, nothing is impossible! Hmmmm. . . . I might be willing to try it out in a controlled environment - all that metal just might get too hot and melt! Oh, we gotta think about the cash factor too. Some departments barely have enough bucks to replace rubber boots. You get the idea. Again though, nothing is impossible!

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    Funny, though, that a cheap piece of 100+ year old technology called a sprinkler head could all but make such technology irrelevant.

    That said, if no one dares to dream it, it can never be a reality.

    There's lots of room for technology in the fire service. I'm not sure about exoskeletons in particular, why not have a "quick search" robot to do a recon of a building so that entering firefighters already have a "map" on a HUD, with victims, exits, hazards, and fire location already marked.

    The automated pump panel is probably close to reality (some are offered that are close to full-automation). If you could integrate the hydraulic info on a fire pump with a GIS model of a water system and the preplan info on the fire building, a computer could suggest the best combination of hydrants to use for a particular scenario, etc.

    As long as the manual back-up / override is available for those exceptional circumstances when everything goes to hell, I'm all for it.
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    Originally posted by Nozzlethief
    Looks pretty intense to me! But as we hear all the time now, nothing is impossible! Hmmmm. . . . I might be willing to try it out in a controlled environment - all that metal just might get too hot and melt! Oh, we gotta think about the cash factor too. Some departments barely have enough bucks to replace rubber boots. You get the idea. Again though, nothing is impossible!
    Grants!!!

    IIRC they are going to cost between 20-30 grand when they are put on the market for disabled people. If and when they make it to the fire service they will likely be like TICs first were, very pricy. But, if they enhance the performance to a significant level, they will rapidly drop in price. Eventualy I envision every FF haveing a full suit issued to them just like PPE.

    How do you put a price on Superman?

    If the performance is in the ballpark of what was described how much do you think it woud be worth....

    10 grand? 20? More?

    I think that if you can creat a Super Heroe it would be worth that and possibly a whole lot more.
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    Originally posted by ullrichk
    Funny, though, that a cheap piece of 100+ year old technology called a sprinkler head could all but make such technology irrelevant.
    LOL, I knew that would come up. True, a vast majority of fires could be controled by technology that could be applied right to the buildings.

    Hell, the vast majority of fires could be prevented when we perfect the common sence transplant...

    But, there remains a lot of fires that a sprinkler is not going to help. Legacy buildings without protection, wildfire, and so on.

    It would be a very neat deal to be able to hike up a moutain and chop down trees with a single swipe of you axe...

    That said, if no one dares to dream it, it can never be a reality.

    There's lots of room for technology in the fire service. I'm not sure about exoskeletons in particular, why not have a "quick search" robot to do a recon of a building so that entering firefighters already have a "map" on a HUD, with victims, exits, hazards, and fire location already marked.

    The automated pump panel is probably close to reality (some are offered that are close to full-automation). If you could integrate the hydraulic info on a fire pump with a GIS model of a water system and the preplan info on the fire building, a computer could suggest the best combination of hydrants to use for a particular scenario, etc.

    As long as the manual back-up / override is available for those exceptional circumstances when everything goes to hell, I'm all for it.
    The most effective part of a FF is his brain. Robots can not yet think like a FF. I believe exoskeleton will be ready sooner then artificial intelegence needed to replace a human FF. I agree that a rocon robot is a great idea, and could be ready soon, but we might as well outfit the FFs with stronger muscles and better protection.

    I like the automated panel idea. A robotic truck controled by the guy at the nozzle by voice command... It may make engine operators obsolete, but the Union would fight that like mad to presereve the job and the number of guys on the truck. Realy, a robotic truck would be fairly simple to develope over the few years. If you didnt decrease the tuck crew, you would free up the pump operator by haveing a robotic truck, giveing him other jobs on the fire might just work.

    There is so much that could and will change in the Fire Service as technology marches on.

    That is if that pesky sprinkler head doesnt make it all a pointless effort...
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    I hear ya about the grants! Now as long as those in charge of the money know where they should spend it! Ugh, we have to deal with all that political stuff, and we're just firefighters! Oh well, guess someday we might go high tech. Of course the trucks have moved in that direction with the advances in pumps (almost fully automated)and other things too, but we still manage in out bunker gear and airpacks. Believe me, if I had one of those, I would give it a fair try!

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    Another thought, at the risk of offending those of smaller stature.

    The exoskeleton could be a equalizer in the stenght department for smaller people, be they male or female. Actualy, the smaller people may be at an advantage over the 275lbs gorillas!

    The smaller people would pack the same strenght into a much smaller space and frame. The could do everything that the suite allows them to do, but at less weight penalty.

    This is part of the EHPA program, to provided a strenght boost not only to the grunts on the front, but also logistics people in the back handleing haeavy cargo. They are specificaly targeting females as a beneficiary of this technology.

    Imagine a 5 foot tall lady FF that can bench a compact car!
    Last edited by SamsonFCDES; 11-16-2003 at 06:57 PM.
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    Is it just me?

    Wasn't there a computer named HAL that developed a personality disorder on a spaceship and started killing the crew?
    Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
    Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.

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    Wow. It’s amazing we can do this but somehow we can’t come up with more fire resistive construction.

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    Default very cool

    Way cool! imagine a six man crew wearing these things! But I would think they won't (if ever) get put into service for at least 20 years from now due to exspense, and traditionalists not willing to change. I'd wear one but I wouldn't depend on it. Remember everything fails.

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    Originally posted by FlyingKiwi
    Is it just me?

    Wasn't there a computer named HAL that developed a personality disorder on a spaceship and started killing the crew?
    "What are you saying, Dave?"

    "What are you doing, Dave?"

    "Die, Dave, Die."

    Yes, HAL 2000 killed off the crew of the ship in the movie 2001 A Space Odesy, all except for a guy named dave, the they flew into the big goofy monolith.

    I doubt that movie has has much of a social impact in Japan, but when they go to sell abroad they will possibly get a lot of HAL jokes.

    Kind of like selling a Chevy Nova in Mexico....

    No Va, is "No Go" in Spanish.
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    Originally posted by ffexpCP
    Wow. It’s amazing we can do this but somehow we can’t come up with more fire resistive construction.
    Smart sprinkler heads that focus their water stream on the seat of the fire to minimize water damage.

    Improvements in wireing and electrical equipment.

    Halon systems on forced air furnaces.

    Dumpsters that close their own lids if a fire is deteced and smother the fire.

    And on and on and on...

    I agree, there is much work to be done in the area of buidling codes and technology.

    I do believe though that we will continue to have very significant fire threats though. Arson, failure of prevention equipment, accidents, and of course the whole lack of common sence issue which certainly not going to go away.
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    Default Re: very cool

    Originally posted by elswappo
    Way cool! imagine a six man crew wearing these things! But I would think they won't (if ever) get put into service for at least 20 years from now due to exspense, and traditionalists not willing to change. I'd wear one but I wouldn't depend on it. Remember everything fails.
    Very true, 6 crewmen comeing out an engine with the attitude and streanght of the Terminator (Governator? ) and the skills of our fire fighters would truely be a force to reakon with.

    As far as the traditionalist go, that will always be a constant hum of skeptiscism in the background. That has never stopped progress before, it may impeded it, but is very rarely stops it. Especialy when dealing with life and death matters. Another thing to condsider is that the traditionalists are getting older. Thier demographic is going to change along with the advance of society, for better or for worse.

    The next generation of FF will have grown up with technology, computers, and a constant and rapid change of technology. They will have seen advances in technology not yet even imagined. Those will will be the people that strap on an exoskeleton and fight the fires. It will be as natural to them as leather helmets and 3/4 boots to the traditionalists. Haveing to use computers in the fire house has been a major change in the way of life for a lot of traditionalist. IMO in general a lot of people do not deal well with change for what ever reason.

    But, with the generations of FFs to come, they have no choice but to go with the flow of change, or they will be left so far behinds as to never catch up. Technologies march will soon be a run and then a sprint. The technologies that will be available, forced, and adopted by the fire service are likely to leave a lot of peoples heads spinning, but IMO it cant realy be stoped, nor should it be.

    I think the expense will come down fairly quickly, there are not a lot of high end pieces to this puzzle, it is just how it is put together that makes it so amazing.

    There is basicly a laptop for the brains, a power supply/high power density bateries, a plastic and aluminum frame, some servo motors, some sensors, and a plastic cover. Nothing here that should be more then a couple thousand. Of course until a servicable unit hits the production line they wont be made in high enough volume to drop in price, but I would wadger that soon enough there will be robotic factories working 24/7 in Japan turning out exeskelton units.

    The Japanese have a lot of plans for these things. They will likely show up in factories and and in cargo handleing industry very soon. They have already been useing exoskeletons in hospitals so that 85 pound 4 foot 10' female Japanese nurses can lift around retired Sumo wrestlers in the old folks home. I am willing to be that the first place that we see exoskeletons in emergency service it will be in Japan.

    Imagine what they could do for Urban search and rescue! Instead of passing around 30-50 pounds chunks of concrete, try passing around 500 pound chunks! With the earthquakes and othe natural disasters of Japan the exoskeleton would prove to be a huge benefit.

    Another factor is that the Japanese society is fixated on robotis and near future science fiction to a great extent. They are fueling thier scientific cruriosit with some very visionary science fiction, science fiction which is very near to becomeing reaility.

    Definatly something to watch.

    We realy do live in amazeing times, the only problem is that things are moveing so fast it is hard to take it all in!
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    Wow, I just did a search for the Tokoyo fire department...

    I found this website.

    http://www.tfpc.com/eindex.html



    Go there and try to identify the music that plays, I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my chair!

    Here is the Rainbow 5 fire robot.



    It basicly approached very hot fires and puts wet stuff on red stuff.

    There are a lot of other robots being used in Japan in the fire service, they have no fear eveidently of progress... or of somebody takeing away leather helmets!





    Those were found at this link.

    http://www.jinjapan.org/nipponia/nipponia13/sp04.html

    These Fire-Fighters Have No Fear of Danger

    The Tokyo Fire Department started using robots in 1986. The first one was Rainbow 5, a robotic water sprayer on wheels. Rainbow 5 was designed to fight fires too big for firemen to approach, like a burning petrochemical complex or an airplane in flames. It can also get close to burning objects that might explode.
    Rainbow 5 is remote controlled, and has four video cameras to transmit images of the fire. In one minute it can spray five tons of water or three tons of smothering foam.
    Since Rainbow 5, the fire department has put seven other types of robots into service. Here are three of them: Jet Fighter, for action in manholes and cramped places; Fire Searcher, for reconnoitering dangerous places with a camera, heat sensor, gas density measuring device and other instruments; and Water Searcher, for diving underwater to rescue people who are drowning.


    A lot of recon bots, very cool.

    I would love to work in fire sevrvice technology development! So very cool!!!
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    Here is an article with some insight into the Japanese love of robotics.

    http://www.jinjapan.org/nipponia/nipponia13/sp02.html

    The article.

    The Japanese Affection for Robots
    From an early age, Japanese people have a special place in their hearts for the robotic heroes in comic books and animated films.
    Centuries ago, robot-like puppets called karakuri-ningyo were a hit. This article looks at how robots stimulate the imagination in Japan.

    By Aramata Hiroshi, novelist
    Japanese Text
    Ancient Mechanical Puppets as Robots
    Japan's first robot (i.e., automatic device) was invented many centuries ago. In a collection of stories written in the early 12th century, called Konjaku Monogatari Shu, we can read about a device made by Kaya-no-Miko. The device poured water into paddy fields during dry periods of the year. Actually, this "robot" did not do the pumping-peasants would pour water into its bowl, and when the bowl reached a certain weight the "robot" would move, tipping the water into the field. This mechanical fellow provided an opportunity for peasants to have fun competing with each other while irrigating their fields.
    In the 17th and 18th centuries, robot-like puppets called karakuri-ningyo developed to a remarkably high technological level, all for the sake of amusement. One rudimentary yet popular theater for these puppets, the Takeda-za, was built in Osaka in 1662. Around the same time, these "robots" also performed on floats during folk festivals. Even today, you can see them at the Takayama Festival in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture. It is interesting to note here that, according to an old superstition, the puppets moved because a god or spirit had entered them, and this human-like movement showed that they were even more quick-witted than people were.
    The first true robot was developed in Japan in 1927, using Western technology. He could smile, flutter his eyes, and write. His name was Gakutensoku, which means "learning from divine reason." Here, too, we see how robots were thought to have a superhuman potential for quick thinking.
    This ancient mechanical doll (karakuri-ningyo) is called Chahakobi ningyo. Reproduction, based on a description published in 1796. (Property of Tatsukawa Shoji; photo credits: Heibonsha Ltd. Photos)
    Takayama Festival float. The puppet is manipulated with strings.
    (Photo credit: Heibonsha Ltd. Photos)


    Japanese Text
    Robots as Friends
    After the end of World War II in 1945, Japan adopted many scientific and technological ideas from the United States. The robot became a symbol of this new age. Children's comics also featured robots-two excellent examples are series that began in the 1950s, Tezuka Osamu's Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atomu), and Yokoyama Mitsuteru's Ironman #28 (Tetsujin 28-go, or Gigantor). These popular creatures represented two different views of robots. Astro Boy was made by a scientist to take the place of his son, who had died. This little hero could think; he had an ego, and he had everyday concerns-in other words, he had very human qualities. But Ironman #28 was a huge robotic machine with no will of his own-he moved only at the instructions of someone manipulating a remote control device.
    People in the West tend to think that robots are cold and impersonal, like Ironman #28. The word "robot" first appeared in 1920, in a play called R.U.R. by Karel Capek. Capek coined the term from the Czech word "robota," meaning forced labor. This shows that, unlike the Japanese, he saw robots as objects with only one reason for being-work.
    In 1950, Isaac Asimov listed three "Laws of Robotics" in his novel, I Robot. The three Laws were: (1) a robot must not harm a human being; (2) a robot must obey every order given by human beings, unless doing so would conflict with Law 1; and (3) a robot must protect its own existence, unless doing so would conflict with Law 1 or 2. These Laws view robots as machines that must obey humans. And the outlook is pessimistic, in the sense that it is assumed that robots could harm people.
    Japanese people have a different view. Robots can be friends with superhuman intelligence and real feelings, like Astro Boy. When robots began appearing on the production line in Japan, they were given names. We sometimes hear reports of people trying to interact with robots, imagining they have human qualities. The entertainment potential of robots has been highlighted recently by stories of people adopting them as pets. These virtual pets probably give you a good idea of the way Japanese people think about robots.


    It is obvious that the Japanese have few reservations about new technology. The integration of robots into Japanese society is truely amazing.

    Then again they have fewer qualms when it comes to robots. They dont mind replaceing facotry workers with robots, something that is fought tooth and nail in the US by unions.



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    This is very cool. While I do still advocate the exoskeleton approach, this purely robotic approach is also very intrieging.

    http://enr.construction.com/products...es/030721a.asp



    equipment tracks & trends


    Japanese Robotics Research Team Develops 'Humanoid' Equipment Operator (7/21/2003 Issue)
    By Tudor Hampton


    MR. ROBOTO Remote-controlled cyborg can drive mini excavators.
    A consortium of researchers in Japan believes firms performing unusually dangerous work could benefit from robots that operate heavy equipment. It may sound like a science fiction story, but the team's engineers say they already have demonstrated a prototype with potential for use on hazardous construction and cleanup sites.
    In cooperation with Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the research and development team comprises a partnership between Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Tokyu Construction Co. and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). In March, they wrapped a five-year, $38.2-million laboratory study resulting in seven robots, one of which was tested in December on a mini excavator. Researchers are planning a second phase to conduct trials for future equipment-driving robots in the field.

    "There have been many attempts to robotize industrial vehicles," says Kazuhito Yokoi, senior research analyst at AIST. "We believe that teledriving a vehicle, such as a backhoe, in dirty or dangerous environments will be one of the most promising application areas for humanoid robots in the future."

    The excavator robot, dubbed HRP-1S, stands 5 ft, 3 in. tall and weighs 258 lb. According to Yokoi, each joint is activated by a brushless DC servo motor equipped with a harmonic-drive reduction gear. Brushless DC servo amplifiers, a Ni-Zn battery and a wireless Ethernet modem also are embedded in the body of the robot.

    It is not fully automated, though. In the lab, a technician operates HRP-1S from a control station that resembles a beefed-up video game. Two cameras mounted in the robot's head guide the technician, who also receives force-sensitive feedback as the robot, sitting in the excavator cab, grasps the joystick controls.

    The robot still needs tweaking, says Takao Ueno, Tokyu Construction project engineer. But his company hopes to begin testing units soon on jobsites.


    (Photo courtesy of National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology)


    Imagine pulling up to a working structure fire in your semi robotic engine. You have 5 guys onboard that are in thier jump seats, only something is different. They are all wearing virtual reality helmets that are linked to a teleoperated humanoid robot, similar to the one pictured above.

    You have your guys safely tucked away in the cab of the fire engine while your 5'3" 250 pound robotic ground pounders (they could probly get away with riding on the read deck ) are pulling hose and attacking the fire. Your robotic engine is drirectly linked to the robot on the nozzle through telemetry carried through the hose itself. When the seat of the fire is located the water is on the way, the fire is out useing only a few gallons of water delivered as compressed air foam.

    No SCBAs needed for Robots, they may look like a FF because of PPE coverings (easy to remeve and clean in a washer), but they could take a whole lot more heat.

    This could open up a whole world of possibilities in the Fire Service. Including the ability to give a fire job to a person confined to a wheel chair (asumeing that the exoskeleton could not give them mobility). When brains become more powerfull then brawn then the world will truely be a changed place.

    Wait, it has always been that way, but sometimes there are limitations.

    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that guinius has its limits."

    I dont know what that has to do with the topic at hand, but it sounds cool anyway.

    Im rambling...
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  20. #20
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    I didnt realise how close we realy are to this sort of thing. The more I reasearch robotics, particularly Japanese robotics, the more amazed I am.

    Another HRP-1S Teleoperated Humanoid robot article.

    http://www.aist.go.jp/aist_e/latest_...0021219_2.html

    Success in Having a Humanoid Robot "Drive an Industrial Vehicle Outdoors."
    - When it wears protective clothing it can also perform outdoor work in the rain. -
    (Translation of the AIST press release on the 19 December, 2002)


    Key Points

    This is the first successful trial in the world to remotely control a man-emulating robot so as to drive an industrial vehicle (backhoe) outdoors in lieu of a human operator.
    Furthermore, the robot's operation was controlled while having it wear protective clothing to protect it against the rain and dust outside. This too marks a world-first success demonstrating the robot's capability of performing outdoor work even in the rain.
    This has been achieved with an HRP-1S robot whose Honda R&D made hardware was provided with control software developed by the AIST.
    The robot has a promising application potential for restoration work in environments struck by catastrophes and in civil engineering and construction project sites where it can "work" safely and smoothly.

    Outline

    Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. ("KHI"), Tokyu Construction Co., Ltd. ("Tokyu Construction"), and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology ("AIST"), an independent government organization, have achieved a world-first success in their joint development of a humanoid robot (HRP-1S): This robot was remotely controlled to perform outdoor work tasks normally carried out by human operators involving the operation (driving and excavation) of a vibrating industrial vehicle (backhoe) in the seated position.

    Furthermore, operation was achieved with the robot wearing protective clothing to protect against rain and dust. This also marks a world-first success indicating the robot's ability to carry out outdoor work tasks even in the rain.

    These results were achieved thanks to the development of the following three technologies: (1) the "remote control technology" for instructing the humanoid robot to perform total body movements under remote control and the "remote control system" for executing the remote control tasks (KHI); (2) the "protection technology" for protecting the humanoid robot against shock and vibrations of its operating seat and against the influences of the natural environment such as rain and dust (Tokyu Construction); and (3) "full-body operation control technology" for controlling the humanoid robot's total body work movements with autonomous control capability to prevent the robot from falling over (Intelligent System Institute of the AIST under the team led by Senior Research Scientist Yokoi).

    There have been many attempts until the present to robotize the industrial vehicles (including backhoes) themselves for work on sites requiring their operation in dangerous work areas or in adverse environments. In contrast, the use of a humanoid robot to operate the industrial vehicle instead of a human operator has two distinct advantages: (1) This means that robot does not only drive the vehicle but is also capable of executing the attendant work tasks (alighting from the vehicle to check the work site, carrying out simple repairs, etc.) and (2) it permits the robotizing of all industrial vehicles without needing to modify them. This Research Group has already succeeded in the development of a robot capable of "operating a forklift truck in the standing position instead of a human operator" using the same system. This earlier success and the present achievement add up to a substantial confirmation of the universal capability of the two humanoid robots.

    Once humanoid robots now engaged in other types of work can be used, when necessary, for operational duties normally performed by human operators there will be a definite chance for a greater expansion of the humanoid robot market which in turn holds promise of further reductions in their production and operating costs.

    The major insight gained from this success that has demonstrated the humanoid robot's ability to replace the human operator in operating (driving and excavation duties) commercially used industrial vehicles (backhoe) under remote control is the realization that humanoid robots are capable of moving in the same manner as humans. The humanoid robot's ability to carry out outdoor work tasks even in the rain by "wearing" protective clothing has widened the scope of the environmental conditions in which it is capable of executing work. From these two aspects there is every reason to expect that these results will make a substantial contribution toward the realization of practical work-performing humanoid robots.

    The development tasks ahead will include work to create wireless remote control and achieve a robot capable of boarding the industrial vehicle independently. To this end, experiments imitating real work conditions and evaluations of the robot's work performance and productivity will be carried out to pave the way for the early achievement of the work-performing humanoid robot.

    The present research and development project is an integral part of the Humanoid Robotics Project ("HRP") that is being implemented by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry under a Five-year Program from 1998 and has been executed on a commission assigned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). The Manufacturing Science and Technology Center (MSTC) is in charge of the management organization for the HRP as a whole.




    Wow, he is even wearing PPE!!! He looks the part of a fire fighter, very interesting.

    Bomb Squad
    Haz Mat
    Toxic Atmospheres
    Bio Hazards

    None of these things mean anything to a friggin robot!

    Truely amazing, makes me wish I would have went to robotics school!
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  21. #21
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    Another very interesting article on Japan and their fixation on robots, I think it has infected me.

    http://www.lookjapan.com/LBst/03AugST.htm


    August 2003
    Sci-Tech Feature


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Walk This Way
    Humanoid robots are here to stay.
    Hirukawa Hirohisa of the Humanoid Robotics Group reports.



    Artist’s impression of robots operating a tunnel-digging machine and conducting plant maintenance.
    COURTESY OF NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED industrial SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

    HUMANOID robots first entered mainstream Japanese consciousness half a century ago, in the form of the popular comic book character Astro Boy. Twenty-two years after the birth of that fictional robot incarnation, Waseda University in Tokyo developed the world’s first functional humanoid robot, WABOT-1, in 1973. Since then Japanese engineers have continued to wrestle with the difficulties of engineering bipedal locomotion— something that comes so easily to humans—with ever improving results.


    In 1996, Honda Motor Corporation stunned the engineering world by unveiling the P2, a humanoid robot fully capable of walking on two feet. P2 was the result of a 10-year-long, top-secret humanoid robot project within the company.


    In 1997, Honda raised the veil on its P3 model, a smaller, lightweight version of P2, and ASIMO, a commercial model. ASIMO has found employment at corporate reception desks, at corporate events and in television commercials. Recently, the robot was used by a department store for sales promotion. An ASIMO robot even rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the first non-human ever to do so.


    In 2000 Sony Corporation unveiled a humanoid robot called Sony Dream Robot-3X, and in 2002 released the SDR-4X. The SDR entertainment robots are small, at around 60 centimeters tall, but their bipedal locomotion control technology is highly developed. They can get up again after a fall, for instance. They dance nimbly and sing using advanced speech synthesis technology. As of March 2002, Sony was saying that it planned on putting SDR on the market that year, but this hasn’t come to pass. A price tag as large as that for a luxury car and safety issues appear to be the obstacles to commercialization.




    Humanoid Robotics Project


    Meanwhile, in 1996 the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry established a five-year project called the Humanoid Robotics Project, or HRP, led by project leader Professor Inoue Hirochika of the University of Tokyo. As part of its work on basic technology for humanoid robots, the project has developed the HRP-2 robot, a humanoid robot for research and development purposes, and the OpenHRP software platform. The project has also employed humanoid robots in five fields— maintenance work in industrial plants, driving industrial machines on construction sites, cooperative activities with humans on construction sites, security services in offices and homes, and human care services—and has studied the practicality of such applications. Ten corporations including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Hitachi, Matsu****a Electric, Fujitsu and Kawada Industries, and 10 universities including the University of Tokyo and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology took part in the HRP project.


    The Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry invested a total of 4.6 billion yen (37.8 million dollars) in HRP. It has not been disclosed how much private corporations spent on the project, but clearly it is tens of billions of yen. Japan is the only country that is spending this kind of money on research and development of humanoid robots and Japan is by far the leader in humanoid robotics technology. The main reason that other countries have not invested in humanoid robotics on the same scale as Japan is that it is not clear that there will be any market for the product. Other countries probably have a hard time understanding why Japan, and particularly its private companies, is spending this much money on humanoid robotics research.


    We are confident that the long-term future of humanoid robotics is bright. Think about the robots that appear in science-fiction movies. Aren’t they almost always humanoid in appearance? Of course, these movies are based on imagination, but they also hint at a certain inevitability in the future development of robots.


    We see the following three categories of applications appropriate for humanoid robots:


    1) Where it is significant that the robot has a human form.


    2) Where a humanoid robot uses machines used by humans.


    3) Where a humanoid robot operates in the same environment as humans.


    Examples of the first category are the use of Honda’s ASIMO in commercials and at events and Sony’s SDR entertainment robots. In either case, the human form and bipedalism of the robots is what grabs people’s attention.




    The HRP-1S operates a backhoe (above); HRP-2 helps assemble a simple building (below)
    COURTESY OF NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED industrial SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY


    An example of the second category is the teleoperation of industrial machines. The upper illustration at right shows a robot operating a tunnel-digging machine. The robot is operated remotely by a person. Conditions in small and mid-sized tunnels can be poor due to dust and other factors so the replacement of human machine operators by robots would be a great advantage. In addition, one can imagine using remote operation of backhoes in dangerous rescue operations. What is common to these examples is that the robots use the same machines as the humans. The machines have been designed for human use so they fit human dimensions and human ergonomics. Thus, robots are needed that have a similar form and function to humans. Of course, the obvious question is why not just develop machines that can be operated remotely without requiring a robot operator. According to heavy equipment makers, the percentage of their machines that are operated in poor environments is so small that it would cost more to manufacture remotely operated machines than it would cost to have robots operate the regular machines.


    Examples of work that fall into the third category are tasks that are carried out in a work environment that is not flat. Examples are maintenance at atomic energy plants and the handling of dangerous materials. The lower illustration at right shows a robot conducting plant maintenance. A wheeled robot couldn’t do this work unless the work environment were barrier-free, which is unrealistic in this case.


    Of these three categories, the first is closest to actual implementation and private companies are actively working in this area. HRP concentrated on realizing a “laboring humanoid robot” and conducted research into applications in the second and third categories. The photographs on the following page show the HRP-1S humanoid robot operating a backhoe and the HRP-2 humanoid robot working with a human to assemble a simple building.


    For tasks that fall under categories 2 and 3, robots can be used without making additional investments to existing infrastructure. Use of a wheeled robot means that less money needs to be spent on the robot itself, but expenditures on the infrastructure side, such as rebuilding machines for the robot to use and making the work environment barrier free, would be large. When humanoid robots are used, infrastructure expenditures are basically zero. Our point is that if you look at the total amount spent on robots and infrastructure, often humanoid robots will be the most economical choice.




    Model T Robots


    It has been estimated that by the year 2025 the number of people in Japan that require caregiving will reach 5.2 million. In 1993, the number was 2 million. Meanwhile, the working-age population will drop from 87 million in 1993 to 70 million in 2025. If replacements for work that is now only done by humans can’t be found, Japanese society may be in complete disarray by 2025. We believe that humanoid robots are great candidates for taking over tasks now done only by humans.


    So, what sort of a road map do we need to take us to 2025? Creating this road map will be a key issue. There are few applied fields in which humanoid robots can be realized within the next few years and there are fears that research and development investments will dry up before the technologies can reach the implementation stage.


    This is our road map for humanoid robots:


    1) Sales of 10 robots for research and development use by 2005.


    2) Sales of 100 robots for work in highly dangerous environments by 2010.


    3) Sales of 1,000 robots for other purposes by 2015.


    Kawada Industries has already sold three HRP-2 robots, so achievement of the first goal is already within reach. Furthermore, in 2002, research and development on robots built to withstand conditions in specific environments began, so the second goal is also coming into view.


    The key to the future of humanoid robots is the third goal. If 1,000 robots each costing 10 million yen a piece could be sold per year, that would represent a market worth 10 billion yen (82.2 million dollars). A market that large could support the establishment of a new industry. Once the industry was established, a mass-production spiral would naturally follow that would lower prices, increase sales and increase production. Unfortunately, at the present time no concrete applications that would support this kind of a market and humanoid robot industry are apparent. However, we hope that vigorous research and development will be carried out that will eventually lead to the birth of a large market for humanoid robots.


    The technological issues that need to be addressed to reach the goal for the year 2010 are various mobility-related functions, such as the ability to climb ladders, move while holding on to handrails and autonomous navigation, and the development of hardware that will not be damaged in falls. For use in the home, humanoid robots need to have autonomous work functions, greater safety features and lower cost.


    Until now, other countries have had little interest in developing humanoid robots, but in response to the humanoid robotics boom in Japan several countries are initiating research and development in the field. China is funding two research groups with a budget of several hundred million yen to produce humanoid robots that will be unveiled at the Beijing Olympics. Rumors are that a robot will carry the Olympic flame in the opening ceremonies. In South Korea, Samsung Electric is said to have initiated development of humanoid robots. Germany has established a large-scale humanoid robotics project, although the robots are the wheeled type. In France, researchers are greatly interested in humanoid robots and in the United States, several universities are interested in purchasing HRP-2 models.


    At this point, nobody knows if Japan was on the right track in pouring so much capital into humanoid robots or if the countries that showed no interest in the field were right. If Honda and Sony’s research and development reaches a dead-end, then Japan was wrong. If, however, somebody ends up with a 10-billion-yen market for their humanoid robots, then Japan was right.


    The top consumer product of the twentieth century was the automobile. The reason for this was that the automobile satisfied two basic human desires: the desire to travel long distances and the
    joy of moving fast. The basic human desires that humanoid robots can satisfy are: the desire to have someone else do unpleasant tasks and the joy of companionship. When these two desires are met, humanoid robots have a chance of becoming the top consumer product of the twenty-first century.


    At the beginning of the twentieth century, Henry Ford’s Model T instigated the spread of the automobile. Our dream is to produce the humanoid robot that will become the Model T of the humanoid robot industry.
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  22. #22
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    What brand of trunout is that, looks Eruopean or maybe Japanese...



    Artists concepts of rotbots working in hazardous conditions.



    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  23. #23
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    From the Walk This Way article linked above.

    So, what sort of a road map do we need to take us to 2025? Creating this road map will be a key issue. There are few applied fields in which humanoid robots can be realized within the next few years and there are fears that research and development investments will dry up before the technologies can reach the implementation stage.


    This is our road map for humanoid robots:


    1) Sales of 10 robots for research and development use by 2005.


    2) Sales of 100 robots for work in highly dangerous environments by 2010.


    3) Sales of 1,000 robots for other purposes by 2015.


    Kawada Industries has already sold three HRP-2 robots, so achievement of the first goal is already within reach. Furthermore, in 2002, research and development on robots built to withstand conditions in specific environments began, so the second goal is also coming into view.


    2) Sales of 100 robots for work in highly dangerous environments by 2010.

    IMO fire fighting would fall into this. I cant wait to see the results of Japanese robotic fire fighters. It should be very interesting to watch over the next few years.
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  24. #24
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    Found some more Tokoyo fire robot pictures. This one is called the "Jet Fighter". It can go into confined spaces and be used for interior attack on hot fires.

    http://www.tfpc.com/museum/suichuu1.htm

    This one is a search bot, it can be used to enter hostile environments and do searches.

    http://www.tfpc.com/museum/kyuujyo.htm

    This one gives the divers a rest, it is a water search bot.

    http://www.tfpc.com/museum/suichuu.htm
    Last edited by SamsonFCDES; 11-17-2003 at 11:19 AM.
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

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