You might worry about the inevitable time when they destroy/enslave humanity after becoming sentient, but many of today’s robots are used to save lives. One of these is the Thermite RS3—the first firefighting robot to enter service in the US.
The Thermite RS3 is a hefty 3,500-pound machine that looks like something from Command & Conquer. The 36-hp diesel engine can push this mini-tank around at eight mph, and it’s able to ascend slopes as steep as 70 degrees.
The robot’s primary function of putting out fires is achieved using a hose that stretches 300 feet horizontally (150 feet vertically) and a cannon-like nozzle capable of blasting 2,500 gallons of water per minute. The RS3 also features a plow blade on the front for clearing obstacles—it’s powerful enough to move a car—and there’s a 5,000-pound winch that can tow up to 1,750 pounds.
The mechanical firefighter can be controlled remotely, with the operator able to see the action via multiple high-definition and onboard cameras, including an infrared cam.
The company behind the robot, Maine-based Howe & Howe Technologies, also builds the Ripsaw tanks that are described as “one of the world’s most sought after high performance, luxury vehicles” on the firm’s website. The RS3’s chassis is based on the same found in Howe & Howe military vehicles designed to help disarm IEDs.
The Los Angeles Fire Department is now using the RS3 to put out fires. It was purchased by fundraising $272,000 through the nonprofit LAFD Foundation, which included a substantial donation from Elon Musk.
Last year we heard about a fighting robot that helped tackle the Notre-Dame blaze. By utilizing the 1,100-pound Colossus, Paris firefighters weren’t put at risk from the old timber structure collapsing.