‘Throwable’ drone that climbs stairs and picks up body heat sent to help at collapsed Florida condo

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As rescue teams continue to search for survivors amid the rubble of the collapsed condo in Surfside, Florida, they have increasingly high-tech tools at their disposal.

Massachusetts-based robotics company Teledyne Flir sent the Miami-Dade Fire Department the Flir FirstLook, a rugged but lightweight drone that ‘investigates dangerous and hazardous material while keeping its operator out of harm’s way.’

Unlike human responders, FirstLook doesn’t have to worry about smoke inhalation, can reach into cramped areas, and won’t risk destabilizing the structure further.

‘In a collapse situation like this, the pile is structurally unsound and constantly vulnerable to shifting,’ Teledyne Flir vice president Tom Frost told The Washington Post

‘It’s much safer to have a robot crawl deeper into a void than to have a person crawling into that void,’ Frost said.

About the size of a brick, FirstLook can even be thrown from a distance—if it lands upside down, it has the capability to right itself.

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Robotics company Teledyne Flir has sent its rugged but lightweight drone, the Flir FirstLook, to first responders at the collapsed condo in Florida

Robotics company Teledyne Flir has sent its rugged but lightweight drone, the Flir FirstLook, to first responders at the collapsed condo in Florida

Teledyne Flir also sent one of its larger automatons, the PackBot 510, which has a servo-arm that can pick up objects that weigh up to 44 pounds.

About the size of a suitcase and weighing roughly 50 pounds, PackBot 510 can be stored in a car trunk and deployed within two minutes.

‘PackBot 510 easily climbs stairs and navigates narrow passages, relaying real-time video, audio and sensor data while the operator stays at a safer, standoff distance,’ according to the TeleDyne site.

It’s intended to be used to dispose bombs, perform surveillance and reconnaissance, and handle chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents and other hazardous materials.

FirstLook is equipped with thermal sensors and 360-degree camera views that can help find trapped people.

FirstLook is equipped with thermal sensors and 360-degree camera views that can help find trapped people.

Both the PackBot and FirstLook are equipped with thermal sensors and 360-degree camera views that can help find trapped people.

‘The idea behind our systems is, send the robots in first,’ Frost told the Miami Herald. ‘They’re exactly the right tool to send into unsafe situations.’

In 2018, a FirstLook survived being shot with a shotgun and thrown down a flight of stairs by a suspect.

Founded in 1979, Flir (or ‘Forward Looking InfraRed’) has helped authorities in hostage situations, mass shootings, and the World Trade Center attack in 2001, the Post reported. 

Aerospace electronics company Teledyne closed its acquisition of Flir in May, purchasing it for $8 billion.

PackBot 510 climbs stairs and navigates narrow passages, relaying real-time video, audio and sensor data to a human operator safely offsite. It can also lift objects weighing less than 44 pounds

PackBot 510 climbs stairs and navigates narrow passages, relaying real-time video, audio and sensor data to a human operator safely offsite. It can also lift objects weighing less than 44 pounds

At least 12 people have been confirmed dead after the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, with 149 still unaccounted for

At least 12 people have been confirmed dead after the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, with 149 still unaccounted for

Teledyne Flir sent down at least one PackBot and FirstLook, along with a human operator, though authorities in Florida have not indicated whether they’ve deployed either device.

At least 16 people have been confirmed dead in the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, about 12 miles northeast of downtown Miami.

Some 147 more people are still unaccounted for.

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