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U.S. Navy builds robot modelled on Star Wars character C-3PO to fight fires on board warships

By Emma Clark

PUBLISHED:10:46 EST, 14 October 2012| UPDATED:11:49 EST, 14 October 2012

A robot with the ability to fight fires on board warships has been developed by military scientists based on the popular Star Wars character C-3PO.

It might sound like something out of another galaxy, but the life-saving robot will be tested next year on U.S navy boats.

Ash, the Autonomous Shipboard Humanoid, will have the capacity to operate in smoke-filled areas, climb ladders, pass though narrow corridors and even react to human gestures in order to put out lethal blazes.

How Ash is built to fight firesA breakdown shows exactly how Ash has been built to fight firesIt has been created by scientists at  the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C, who took inspiration from the popular 35-year-old film character C-3PO when drawing up early prototypes.

Sensors  and an infrared camera on its ‘face’ will be able to interpret human  gestures, even through thick smoke, allowing the robot to take  directions from people.

Ash’s ‘arms’ will be able to operate hoses, extinguishers and other fire-fighting materials.

It’s structure is made out of titanium and aluminium and powered by a battery which will provide power for around 30 minutes.

It is hoped that Ash will be able to tackle even the toughest of blazes, which pose a great threat to lives of crew on warships.

It comes after Virginia Tech University developed CHARLi-1, who was able  to move in all directions and perform simple tasks using his upper body, as part of their robot programme.

Ash, the Autonomous Shipboard Firefighting Robot, left, was modelled on the Star Wars character C-3POAsh, the Autonomous Shipboard Firefighting Robot, left, was modelled on the Star Wars character C-3PO

Ash, the Autonomous Shipboard Firefighting Robot, left, was modelled on the Star Wars character C-3PO

Ash will be tested on board US Navy warships, like the one pictured, early next yearAsh will be tested on board US Navy warships, like the one pictured, early next year

Professor Hong told the Sunday Express: ‘It is walking now and will start testing on a Navy ship early next year but that does not mean that it is complete; it still needs a lot of things done, such as protection against heat and flames, sensors, navigation, fire-fighting behaviours.’

Ash’s hand and sensor coordination has been hailed as a breakthrough in robot technology.

Earlier this year a $1.5 million (£930,000) competition to create a humanoid which can carry out life-threatening work was launched by the secret Defence Projects Agency.

They would be used in the aftermath of terrorist attacks, industrial accidents or natural disasters by the U.S. military, who hope to increase their use of robots.

The team of engineers and scientists pose with their latest creation, Ash. They hope to test it earlier next yearThe team of engineers and scientists pose with their latest creation, Ash. They hope to test it earlier next year
Engineers test out the new robot's movement using a football
Engineers test out the new robot’s movement using a football

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