Robotic Fire Hose Anna Konda

Anna Konda, a robotic fire hose that slithers like a snake into burning buildings, has been developed by SINTEF, a research foundation in Norway.


(Anna Konda - snakebot robotic fire hose)

Anna Konda is a snakebot with 20 water hydraulic motors that move its joints. The power source? The water inside, pressurized at 100 bars. Surprisingly, this gives the snakebot enough power to climb stairs or lift a car.

According to the SINTEF:

The snake contains 20 water hydraulic motors that move the robotic joints — and a similar number of valves to control the water flow to each motor. Each module consists of two hydraulic motors and two valves. The outer layer is comprised of a strong steel skeleton containing the joint modules,which can rotate around two orthogonal axes. The joints are controlled by custom-built electronics.

"It is much like the grab on an excavator where different joints and movements are coordinated by the operator. In this instance, the operator is the computer," says Pål Liljebäck of SINTEF. "There are angle sensors in each joint, and we can decide with conplete accuracy the angle that we want in the joints. A camera in the snake's head makes operating the snake like driving a remote-controlled car. The operator can tell the snake to move from A to B, and the snake works out on its own how to accomplish this. It knows how to cross a pile of materials, climb down on the back side and twist itself round objects in order to get footing."

The snake should have a number of possible uses in situations too dangerous for humans, like tunnel fires.

“Tunnel fires are explosive and it is extremely dangerous for firefighters to enter the tunnel to extinguish the fire,” says Project manager Øyvind Stavdahl. “In such situations, it is possible to imagine a whole nest of snakes slithering out from a layer in the tunnel. Since the snake has modules, it is possible to design snakes for different functions: snakes can, for example, provide oxygen masks to people trapped in the tunnel, light up the tunnel or carry a camera that provides firefighters outside an overview of the situation without requiring them to enter.”

Snakelike robots are not unknown in science fiction. Consider the digger worm, used for mining, from a 1985 story by Connie Willis.

"I think this is the worm." He knelt down and began clearing the chunks of yellow coal away. Under it was the smooth gray of the worm's grinding head...
(Read more about the digger worm)
Also, read about six different kinds of slithering robots in our Snakebot Roundup!. Read more about Anna Konda here and here.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/22/2006)

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