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Firefighting robot can douse your flames for $96K

This tracked monster can spit out 600 gallons of water per minute and take on train wrecks. Just don't step on the hose.

Howe and Howe

In 2011, more than 80 firefighters in the U.S. died while on duty, and more than 60 have lost their lives so far this year. Engineering companies have been trying to reduce the harm they face and Maine-based Howe and Howe Technologies is offering this robot firefighter as a solution.

The firm is known for building high-speed tracked vehicles that can tear through rugged terrain. Thermite, billed as the world's first production firebot, also rolls on treads so it can get over obstacles lying between it and a dangerous fire.

Thermite stands about 4.5 feet tall, weighs 1,640 pounds, and can pump out up to 600 gallons per minute. It's attached to a long hose and douses blazes with a nozzle that swivels vertically and horizontally.

Thermite is designed to tackle everything from train derailments to nuclear and chemical fires. It's built of aluminum and steel and can be remote-operated from up to one-quarter mile away.

A camera by the nozzle lets operators get a close-up view of the situation, as seen in the vid below.

Like the much smaller Hoya firefighting robot from South Korea, Thermite can be used for reconnaissance.

Howe and Howe is pricing the robot at $96,000. It's not nearly as cool as DARPA's flame-killing stereo, but Howe and Howe says Thermite can help reduce the cost of firefighting insurance.

That's more than worthwhile if it can help save lives.

(Via IEEE Spectrum)