Southern Manatee Fire & Rescue (SMFR) has gained a reputation as a leader in integrating cutting-edge technologies for hazardous materials (HazMat) response. Their dedication to ensuring the safety of first responders in extreme environments has made them a trusted partner of Squishy Robotics. In a recent testing session, Squishy Robotics’ 4-GasPLUS drone-droppable/throwable sensor robot underwent rigorous examination by SMFR to evaluate its suitability for operation in potentially flammable environments. The successful outcome of the testing serves as an important milestone towards potential Intrinsic Safety Certification and provides assurance of the robot’s safety in challenging firefighting scenarios.
Ensuring Safety in Extreme Environments
When it comes to developing technology for first responders, factors like product durability and reliability take on an elevated level of importance. Squishy Robotics COO Deniz Dogruer emphasizes the critical need for technology to be safe to operate in the extreme environments where first responders often find themselves. The 4-GasPLUS sensor robot was subjected to MythBusters-style tests, where SMFR assessed its performance and safety during hazardous scenarios.
Flammability Testing Process
To determine the safety of operating the 4-GasPLUS sensor robot in potentially flammable environments, SMFR conducted a series of tests. In the first phase, hydrogen gas was introduced into an SMFR testing chamber to simulate a combustible atmosphere. The aim was to assess whether the operation of the sensor robot alone would cause an explosion. Once it was confirmed that the robot’s operation did not initiate an explosion, a controlled spark was introduced to evaluate the robot’s survivability under extreme conditions.
Impressive Performance and Resilience
Squishy Robotics is pleased to report that the 4-GasPLUS sensor robot withstood the explosion intact, demonstrating remarkable hardware durability. Furthermore, throughout the testing process and even after the explosion, the robot continued to transmit crucial sensor data and camera video feeds seamlessly to the Squishy Robotics user interface (UI). This uninterrupted communication ensures that first responders can rely on the robot’s capabilities to provide accurate and real-time information during critical operations.
Progress Towards Intrinsic Safety Certification
While flammability testing does not replace Intrinsic Safety Certification, it represents a significant step forward in achieving such accreditation. The successful outcome of the testing confirms that the 4-GasPLUS sensor robot is safe to operate in potentially flammable environments, providing reassurance to first responders who rely on this technology. Squishy Robotics recognizes the importance of adhering to stringent safety standards and views this accomplishment as a foundation for future certification processes.
Collaborative Efforts and Future Work
The flammability testing with SMFR was conducted as part of collaborative work under a NIST grant, focusing on user interface/user experience (UI/UX) testing. Future newsletters from Squishy Robotics will delve into the activities and outcomes of the UI/UX testing, providing further insights into the user-centric approach employed to enhance the effectiveness and usability of their technology.
The successful completion of flammability testing with SMFR marks a significant achievement for Squishy Robotics and their 4-GasPLUS sensor robot. The robot’s ability to withstand an explosion with its hardware intact, while consistently transmitting essential data, underscores its suitability for operating in potentially flammable environments.