Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Firefighting

The K-MAX drops a payload of water, which it autonomously lifted from a pond

You've gotta hand it to Kaman's K-MAX UAS unmanned helicopter ... it's been used to deliver cargo in a combat zone, it's set altitude and payload weight records for airdrops, and it's been part of an autonomous air/ground mission. Now it's teamed up with a quadcopter in an exercise which suggests that the two could be used to fight forest fires, without endangering human pilots.  Read More

A conventional fire shelter after exposure to the heat of a forest fire (left) as compared...

Last June, a wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona overtook and killed 19 firefighters – even though they had set up fireproof shelters. This inspired Phoenix-based SunSeeker Enterprises to develop a shelter that's better able to withstand the high heat of forest fires. Utilizing a material licensed from NASA to protect the Space Shuttle on re-entry, the Fire Blanket is the result.  Read More

To address the material weakness of traditional hydrants, Sigelakis chose to go with a sta...

The traditional fire hydrant, that innocuous little cast metal tube with a hat, is one of those everyday objects that is so commonplace most people tend to overlook them. For over 100 years this life saving device has changed little in terms of design or functionality, but now an ex-fire fighter hopes to change all that with his next generation Spartan fire hydrant.  Read More

SINTEF's jacket displays scrolling text messages on its sleeve

It's important for firefighters or members of disaster response crews to stay in touch with one another during operations, which is of course why they carry two-way radios. Researchers from Norway's SINTEF group, however, are developing a system that could help even more. It allows users to receive and read text messages hands-free, via their jackets.  Read More

The Amphibious Responder was designed to transport rescuers and materials into disaster zo...

Over the past couple of months, our attention has been caught by a couple of monstrous, land/water rescue machines in the form of the Ghe-O Rescue and the ARGO XTI 8x8. The CAMI Amphibious Responder makes three, and it is the largest, most powerful amphibious rescue machine of the bunch.  Read More

Vibram shows its Concept Smart Sole at Outdoor Retailer

Vibram recently exhibited its Smart Concept Sole to give some insight as to the company's ideas for the future of sneaker technology. Along with a remote controlled LED lighting system that allows the soles to illuminate the ground ahead, Vibram anticipates the soles in future footwear to be embedded with sensors to warn the wearer of invisible environmental hazards.  Read More

The Firefighting Robot is designed to create 3D virtual reality maps of the interiors of b...

“Quick, send in the robots!” Far-fetched as it may sound, fire-fighting robots are indeed coming closer and closer to common use. While some of them are intended to actually put out the flames, others are designed more to scout out structures before human firefighters enter, letting those people know how to safely get around and where to concentrate their efforts. One of the latest machines in the second category is the self-balancing Firefighting Robot (FFR), being developed at the University of California, San Diego.  Read More

A firefighting helmet that incorporates ultrasound and vibrational forehead pads could hel...

Firefighters can quite often find themselves in smoke-filled rooms, where it’s impossible to see more than a few inches in any direction. Not wanting those firefighters to run into walls, researchers at the University of Sheffield have created a prototype helmet that vibrates against the wearer’s forehead, letting them know the location of nearby obstacles.  Read More

A prototype of the reconnaissance ball

First responders such as firefighters or police officers are often faced with a difficult situation – they need to get into a building as fast as possible, yet it’s unsafe for them to just blindly run in without knowing what hazards await them. Some groups are attempting to address this problem by designing reconnaissance robots, although such devices can be expensive and/or complex. Boston-based Bounce Imaging, however, is putting the finishing touches on something a little more simple to use – a throwable smart ball.  Read More

The Twizy fire prototype will be tested in and around Paris

When Renault showed the two-seat Twizy electric city car at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, we never expected to see it haul firefighters – meter maids, maybe, but not firefighters. The vehicle is about as far from a fire truck as you can get while still discussing motorized vehicles. That hasn't stopped the French company from outfitting its diminutive electric car for the purpose of firefighting.  Read More

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