Feature

Japanese researchers made a flying snake robot that fights fires

What will they think of next?

A robot firefighter.

Each week, we spotlight a cool innovation recommended by some of the industry's top tech writers. This week's pick is a fire-fighting robot.

"Fires have an unfortunate habit of happening in places that aren't necessarily easy to reach," putting firefighters in lethal danger, said Evan Ackerman at IEEE Spectrum. That's led Japanese researchers to design a "snake-like robot" with the body of a fire hose. "Like other snake robots, this one has the potential to be able to wiggle its way into windows or other gaps in a structure, with the benefit of carrying and directing water as it goes." But what sets this design apart is "how it powers itself."

See it in action:

The snake can shoot "high-pressure jets of water downward like rocket engines," lifting the robot up off the ground and allowing it to fly. "While the head nozzle is fighting the source of the fire," the body keeps itself airborne, drenching everything that it's passing over. Researchers are now working on the robot's control algorithms to make the hose "more stable and more controllable."

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