fire-fighting robot project, need advice from people who know about firefighting

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by count_volta, May 3, 2012.

  1. count_volta

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 4, 2009
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    Hey guys, I came up with an interesting senior design project idea, but need advice from people who were either fire-fighters or know about fire-fighting.

    I have been doing some research online and even watching fire fighter training videos but I'm still not entirely sure how to do this.

    Okay so basically the entire project is going to be centered around this thermopile array. http://www.robot-electronics.co.uk/htm/tpa81tech.htm

    What I like about this sensor is that it does more than just detect something hot. It can detect heat sources of various temperatures. It can tell the difference between a small fire and a big fire. It can even tell the difference between a fire and a human being.

    Its the same technology that is used in thermal imaging cameras I think. This sensor can even create a crappy thermal image. You can see it on that website.

    So here is my project idea so far. Have the robot go through a maze (which represents a house). Find the room that has the fire. In the room with the fire there will be a few different fires. A big fire, a small fire, a fire that is spreading rapidly and etc. In that room there will also be a person.

    When the robot reaches the room it will detect the person, send a message to firefighters that there is a person in here, you better go rescue them. Then begin putting out each fire in the proper chronological order.

    That is one area where I need your help. I mean to me, common sense tells me that the fire that is spreading should be attacked first, then the two non-spreading fires, the big fire then the small fire. Its very likely that I have no idea what I'm talking about, and that's why I'm asking.

    I'm also obviously ignoring things like fuel sources and other signs that could tell a human a lot more than a robot. But I'm sure technology will get to that, lets concentrate on the heat source temperature.

    Another question for you guys is, how can I use the power of this sensor to create a robot that could be theoretically useful for fire fighters. I'm sure there are better sensors out there, but this one already costs 100 dollars, and I have a limited budget.

    All the fire fighting robots I have seen just detect a candle and blow it out. I want to go one step beyond and detect humans, and detect multiple fires and types of fire, and possibly send a thermal image wirelessly back to the firefighter.

    This project sounds challenging but extremely fun. Waiting for your advice. Thank you. :)
     
  2. MBVet05

    New Member

    Jul 21, 2011
    27
    1
    That sounds like a very ambitious project. I was in the Navy for twenty years and learned how to be a firefighter. Firefighter first on a ship, then sailor 2nd.

    We used handheld thermal imagers called "Hotspots" by us to find heat sources. This sounds like the technology you want to use for your robot.

    Attacking fires is not for the faint of heart. As an ex-Navy firefighting trainer I always had my teams beat back the immediate fire as they entered a space. You never risk more lives trying to find a victim. If you reach them before the fire then fine.

    But, the robot would have to be programmed to fight each fire as he enters the space until reaching any vicitims. There would not be a practical way to rescue someone that is behind a fire and out of reach. If the robot tried to go through a fire to look for any potential victims that way it would have to be protected from heat and flames somehow.

    I applaud your efforts and desire for a robot of this magnitude. But, I would stick to the technology side first and the firefighting second.

    Good luck!
     
  3. count_volta

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 4, 2009
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    MBVet05, can you please tell me which fire you would take out first, a small fire that is spreading or a large fire that is not spreading or a small fire that is not spreading? When I say spreading I assume it has a fuel source in its path. The robot cant detect the fuel source but it can detect a spreading fire versus a static one.

    Common sense tells me that the spreading fire is top priority. But the large static fire can jump to something and create another fire and so spread that way. I need to know how to program my robot, which fire to attack first. I have to explain the logic of my choices in the presentation. Should be as realistic as possible.
     
  4. Bushamus91

    New Member

    May 3, 2012
    4
    3
    I've been a professional firefighter for over 10 years in a large city department in California. The best answer I can give regarding which fire to attack is attack the one that has the highest possibility of endangering human life. Also I have never heard of, nor have I ever seen a "static" fire. If I were to imagine one it would most certainly go out on its own. Hope this helps.
     
  5. count_volta

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 4, 2009
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    Yea I guess no fire is static youre right. But don't some spread faster than others due to the different fuel sources?

    Also what about the size? Its easier and faster to put out a small fire, but a large fire is more dangerous and is constantly growing. Then again the small one is also growing. Which one would you take out first. Lets say the building is empty and there is no danger to human life, except the fire fighter himself.

    I wish there was somewhere I could read about this.
     
  6. BSomer

    Member

    Dec 28, 2011
    433
    106
    This kind of sounds similar to something I seen on some TV program a few months back. I think it was on the History channel maybe the Military channel. A couple of guys build tracked concept vehicles, some of which are for the military. They built one that was remote controlled for a local fire department. It had basically everything you are thinking of except for the brains to do the job itself.

    I think what you are trying to do is a great idea and something worth the effort. I hope you can see it through.
     
  7. count_volta

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 4, 2009
    435
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    Let me give you an example to explain what I'm trying to say.

    [​IMG]

    The clock just began burning. Its a pretty small fire. The couch fire is spreading fast and growing. It makes sense to put out the clock first because its relatively easy and fast right?

    On the other hand the clock fire is not going to spread as fast as the couch fire. In fact its obvious that the couch fire has spread to the clock. Now what would a real fire fighter do in this situation? Get the clock and put out the couch? Or leave the clock and go for the couch first?

    Now pretend the firefighter is a robot. The robot cannot think. The robot has heat information using thermal imaging sensors. The robot can see the clock fire and it can see the couch fire. It can tell which one of those is hotter than the other.

    It can also tell if there was a person lying there. The person would be the coolest heat source. There might be other heat sources with a similar temperature to the human which is something I need to think about.

    Now I'm not actually sure what would be hotter the clock or the couch. I heard somewhere that wood burns hotter but slower. The robot would be able to see that the wood is hotter. All it can use is temperature of objects to make decisions. It can also tell if a fire is big or small by comparing adjacent pixel temperatures and drawing out an image. Then it can tell that the clock fire is much smaller than the couch fire.

    I'm trying to use this information to create a smart useful robot. What do you guys think?
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
  8. gerty

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 30, 2007
    1,153
    304
    In a scenario like that with everything in one room, you would enter room with nozzle in fog or mist spray and work your way across the room.
    Fire nozzles are made to be adjustable, a stream will travel far, with enough force to break a window. A fog or mist will fill a room from wall to wall, and what you do is chose the correct setting for the type of situation you are in.

    With the nozzle in the mist setting you'll have a wall of water between you and the fire, as well as a directional spray from the center of the nozzle.
    You do not want to walk past small fires looking for the "big one", as the little ones will come together behind you, trapping you.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
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  9. Bushamus91

    New Member

    May 3, 2012
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    There is an acronym used in the fire service. It's called RECEO and it stands for, in order of importance, rescue, exposure, containment, extinguishment, and overhaul. What this means is human life has presedence then you need to protect anything "exposed" to the fire. One way of protecting an exposure may be to just put out the fire causing an exposure problem. In your case I would put out the couch fire first due to being larger and hotter due to the material inside the couch. The couch has a much higher probability of spreading than a clock. The remainder of the house is considered an exposure.
     
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  10. count_volta

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 4, 2009
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    Thanks Bushamus91 and gerty.

    But now lets consider a robot doing the job of a human being. Real robots are nothing like you see in movies. They cannot think at all. A robot would not know that the couch fire is more likely to spread than the clock.

    The only information the robot has to make intelligent decisions is thermal imaging sensors. In my case, the TPA-81.

    If you have seen thermal images before the image literally traces the heat source. It builds up the heat source using pixels. Pixels of the same temperature are the same color.

    [​IMG]

    The people emit infrared radiation so they are traced out. So would fire obviously. The different colors represent various temperatures.

    From the above image we can see that the robot will know the relative temperatures of all the different people in that room. So a hot fire can be distinguished from a cooler one.

    It will also know that the child is smaller in size compared to the mother. So a big fire like the couch can be distinguished from a small fire like the clock.

    Now my sensor the TPA-81 is crap compared to the sensors used to draw the above image. Here is the image my sensor would give.

    [​IMG]

    Here it created a crappy 32X8 image by rotating a servo motor. It detected a candle at row 19 column 3. It can also tell that the candle is hotter than adjacent pixels (30 degrees Celsius). If there were two candles, one hotter and another colder, it could tell the difference between them.

    If there was a big fire, there would be more blue pixels next to each other of similar temperature and so it could be used to tell the difference between a big fire and small fire.

    So in summary thats all the info I get. Size of fire and relative temperature of the fire, and possible presence of a person (infrared source which is of ideal human body temperature 98.6F). I would like to use this information to program the robot to make smart decisions.

    Anyone have any ideas? See my ideas on page 2.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
  11. count_volta

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 4, 2009
    435
    24
    Here are my ideas so far:

    Robot finishes the maze and finds the hot room. By rotating the servo motor with the TPA-81 the robot detects the following:

    Two separate fires (candles or whatever)

    1: Big hot fire. 2: Small cooler fire.

    Or

    1: big cooler fire, 2: small hot fire.

    It also detects a source at approximately 98.6°F (the person)


    First:

    The robot tries to communicate with the person and if the person replies there is confirmation that a person is in the room. The robot sends a message to firefighters that there is a person in here and they responded.

    If the person doesn't reply they could be unconscious so the robot sends a "possible person present" message to the firefighters.

    The robot also sends a thermal image to the firefighters so that they can make decisions that a robot is incapable of.

    Second:

    The robot makes decisions on which fire to attack. If there is a fire right next to the person, that fire should be put out first obviously.

    Then it puts out one of the two fires first.

    Either the big hot fire or the small hot fire or whatever. I'm not sure. That is where I need the advice of people like Bushamus91.

    Its obvious that there are many factors that determine which fire should be taken out first and not just temperature and size. But maybe an approximation can be made that a big fire is spreading (like the couch) and should be taken out first. I don't know honestly.

    After the robot determines which fire should be taken out in what order, it begins to do so, either using a fan or a bottle of foam or water spray gun, depending on what kind of fire I decide to use (either candle or something a little more intense).

    Those are my ideas so far.
     
  12. Bushamus91

    New Member

    May 3, 2012
    4
    3
    Due to the material used in the couch the couch would show a hotter temperature. Normal fire behavior would imply the hotter something is burning the faster it heats up other nearby materials thus having a faster rate of spread. Different materials burns at different temperatures. This would be detected by the TIC (thermal imaging camera).
     
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  13. Bushamus91

    New Member

    May 3, 2012
    4
    3
    So I guess to answer your question, I would attack the larger fire first.
     
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