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Mini robot can cruise through burning buildings

A Korean firm is developing a reconnaissance robot that can enter burning buildings to check for people and gauge the danger level for firefighters.

Hoya Robot

South Korea's Hoya Robot is developing a mini firefighter helper bot that can enter burning buildings to conduct reconnaissance and check for people.

The Firefighters Assistant Robot can apparently operate for up to 30 minutes in fires, and can withstand temperatures up to 320 F. It can also survive falls of more than 6 feet. It's water-resistant, as seen in this experiment video.

It may look like a tank up close, but the bot can nearly fit in the palm of your hand and weighs only 3 pounds.

The remote-controlled rover can scoot into a blaze and transmit image, sound, temperature, smoke, and gas data to firefighters up to 54 yards away. Firemen can decide on a course of action based on the findings.

Onboard lights below the fire-bot's camera help illuminate its path amid smoke and darkness. It can travel about 1 foot per second.

The robot is the first of its kind in Korea, and it took two years to develop with financial assistance from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. About 50 fire stations in Korea are set to receive 100 units for testing.

Hoya plans to show off the Firefighters Assistance Robot at the International Robot Exhibition 2009 (iRex) in Tokyo in November.