Recon: First light-weight, fast, wireless robot that can enter a burning building to find...

...people, determine if they’re alive (check for breathing and/or pulse), and enable the firefighters to communicate with people inside the building.  It also enables the fire lieutenant to accurately see what is going on inside the building and it can remain inside the building to help the lieutenant direct efforts as events develop.  There must be dual controls for this robot so the fire lieutenant can take over its operation, if s/he so chooses.  The controls for the fire lieutenant must be light-weight, highly portable, wireless, compact, and simple to use so not a lot of training is required of a fire lieutenant to be able to master its controls.  The controls must come with headsets so either operator can easily talk to people within the building.  [Expect these recon robots to be flying robots and not driving around on the floors.]

Future Challenges:

1) The robot is equipped with a live-feed videoconference screen (possibly along the lines of a tablet PC) so the operator and/or fire lieutenant can visually communicate with people inside the building.  So people can hear the operator and/or fire lieutenant, these likely flying robots must be able to either have silent engines and propellers or have the ability to safely land and shut off their engines so they can more easily communicate with people inside the building without the people having to shout over the noise of the engines and/or propellers.  [Trapped people in a building that is on fire will feel more encouraged, less stress, and more like they're going to be rescued if they can actually see a human fire fighter talk to them by way of the recon robot.  This is ESPECIALLY so for those who are children.  And because of potential children needing to be so reassured, this will be the robot that fire departments send to elementary, middle, and high schools so children can hopefully have already encountered the robot before really needing it.  Because of this important role, expect these robots to be designed to be kid-friendly and NOT scary in the slightest.  No Terminator.  More like Wall-E.]

2) First team of at least six recon firefighting robots to respond to a fire whereby at least one of them goes into the building looking for survivors (both humans and pets) while at least another five surround the building thus giving the fire lieutenant a live view of all sides of the building and at least two different views of its roof.  [These recon firefighting robots will become the eyes and ears of fire lieutenants: quickly giving the lieutenants a complete live picture of the entire fire situation.]

3) First fire department to always have a squad of at least six recon robots to enter buildings so they can more quickly search a burning building and then help babysit people inside awaiting rescue.  [Imagine yourself in the following situation.  You're trapped inside a burning building and a recon robot comes in and finds you.  How would you feel if it then took off to search the rest of the building?  If you were a parent, you would naturally want it to look for your children, but if you weren't a parent or you were the child, how would you feel if the robot left you?  Depressed?  Panic?  Afraid you'll be forgotten?  Afraid you'll die?  If you were a child or mentally-retarded adult, would you try following it instead of being left behind?  This is why more than one recon robot will be needed.  Once it finds a conscious survivor, it will need to remain with them until they're rescued.]  To win this challenge, the fire department must have live-feed video hook-ups with on-call social services personnel, counselors, and/or child psychologists who can then stay online with the found people until they're rescued so the operators of the recon robots can go off searching for others.  [These on-call babysitters wouldn't need to be near the fire and could even be in another country.  Because of this, fire departments might pool their resources to fund a 24/7 on-call center of highly-trained experienced professionals to do such babysitting for them.]

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