Rescue and firefighting robots that can operate in disaster areas too dangerous for humans can obviously be a great asset, and it is not surprising that research and development of such machines are conducted in many countries around the world.

One such firefighting robot developed by the U.S. Navy has been the subject of  significant attention recently. It’s actually a humanoid robot, which is unusual for a rescue robot, but that isn’t the reason why it is gaining attention; the reason becomes quite obvious once you see a picture of the robot – the robot just simply looks incredibly freaky!

The robot in question is a machine developed by the U.S. Navy built specifically to be used at fire scenes and is called “Octavia” (does that make it a she?). What is impressive about Octavia is that you can relate commands to her by voice and with gestures, so in essence, the robot can communicate with humans at the scene of fire and act accordingly .

In the video showing Octavia at work at an experimental fire scene, she hears from the human where the fire is, confirms the location of the fire with her sensor and manages to successfully extinguish the fire.  But what really catches your attention is how unusually expressive her face is.

In the video, you can see how her large unfocused eyes move around and how she appears to be staring at you intently while moving her eyebrows up and down. Hmm, quite creepy – creepy enough, in fact, to make it difficult to speak to her calmly.  Apparently, she is pleased with herself after extinguishing the fire, and she puts on an expression that looks like a big smile. Unfortunately, even her smile looks  freaky.

Come to think of it, does a robot operating in dangerous situations at fire scenes need to be humanoid? You would think that the neck and head, with all the complex movable parts that create Octavia’s expressions, could potentially break easily.

In any case, Octavia is still in the experimental stage, and she will definitely need to go through considerable modification before she can be put to actual use. It will certainly be interesting to see how Octavia evolves with further development, and maybe the potential structural weakness we are worried about will be overcome with future improvements. Who knows, someday she might even come to your rescue.

Source:Youtube USNRL (English)

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