Using Robots as Fire-fighting Agents Anindita Das Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Texas at Austin firstname.lastname@example.org
Motivation Fire-fighting is a critical operation that currently needs to be performed regularly by humans. • Even small fires can become serious without timely detection. • Once a fire breaks out, it is always an emergency that must be addressed immediately. • We lose several human lives each year in fire fighting activity. As autonomous mobile agents become more and more sophisticated, can we delegate the responsibility of such critical, life-threatening operations to these agents?
The Project The project is intended as a proof of concept to investigate if such a vision can be realized. • Single robot Jeeves • Three sensors with pre-assigned locations • Centralized communication of sensors • Fire simulated by light intensity • No intermediate obstacle • Only one fire at a time Some key simplifications Jeeves Also, Jeeves does not have arms and therefore cannot pour water on the fire! The focus is on the coordination between fire sensing and fire fighting mechanisms.
The Implementation If light intensity from some sunspot is higher than a (pre-assigned) threshold then fire is assumed to have occurred, and Jeeves is notified. Sunspots (continuously) send light intensity data to the laptop through base station. Initially Jeeves is in “home” location. Jeeves checks periodically for light intensity data from affected Sunspot to see if the fire is extinguished. Jeeves moves to the (pre-assigned) location of the affected Sunspot and purportedly attempts to extinguish fire (at least it says so). If “no fire” is received for a number of consecutive checks then crisis is assumed to be over. Jeeves returns to its “home” and awaits next notification.
Conclusion Fire fighting and similar critical activities cry out for automation through coordinating mobile agents. If we have a problem involving: • a requirement to sense some attribute from the physical world; • critical but somewhat routine action in response to the sensory data; • which in turn can be extremely expensive or life-threatening then such a problem naturally lends itself to a solution involving sensor networks for sensing the attribute and mobile agents for taking the action. My experience suggests that developing such solutions is within the realm of possibility. Possible future work: • Extend the system into a more realistic one (multiple robots, better fire sensing) • Consider other potential domains where similar solutions are admissible.
Thank You Questions?
Related Work Fire detection through sensor networks • Fire detection has been one of the earliest critical applications of sensor networks • Work mostly focused on reduction of false alarms • Yu et al. (2005) discuss techniques for detecting forest fire (accounts for humidity, wind, etc.) • Bernardo et al. (2007) consider fire detection when sensors themselves can be destroyed. • Xu et al. (2007) develop techniques for fire detection in ancient buildings. Fire fighting robots • There is an international fire-fighting robot contest. • Most work focused on guiding robot through fire and obstacles. • Bradshaw (1991) present a robot design as part of a surveillance system. • Park et al. (2010) consider image communication between robot and control. • Chien et al. (2007) consider a fire-fighting robot as part of an “intelligent building. To our knowledge not much work has been done in coordinating fire detection with fire fighting activities.