AFD practices robot rescue techniques

The National Fire Protection agency says in 2013 over 3,000 people died in fires.

The Austin Fire Department is one of the few in the country working to save lives, in a non-traditional way.

Meet Wall-E. He and his robot friend are MTGER's, or micro-tactical ground robots who could just be the difference between life and death for someone in danger.

"We've got different mannequins hidden downstairs in different areas. Our controllers are upstairs they don't know where the mannequins are hidden. What we're using the PVC pipes for is to mitigate that emergency and that might be as simple as bringing communication to that patient," said Lt. Lyzz Donelson, Austin Fire Department.

AFD is one of just a handful in the country to use robotics in their rescue efforts.

Lieutenants in charge of training for the program say the benefits have much potential.

"Not only take potential firefighters out of the way, but to gain access to our patients faster and more efficiently," said Donelson.

Executing exactly what should be done in a perilous time when every second counts.

"The one thing we don't want is to get on an emergency scene and be stumbling around trying to figure out how to manipulate these things because minutes matter, seconds matter," said Lt. Greg Pope, Austin Fire Department.

The bots will be able to deliver any type of supplies the person in distress may need, checking viability, air quality, and safety before a rescuer even goes in.

Right now the department is in the early stages, training, and becoming comfortable with the remote controllers.

"The first day was pretty funny, we were all over the place and it was pretty hilarious," said Pope.

The developments do not stop here.

"We have potential for aerial robots or maritime robots," said Donelson.

"I'm a private pilot, I own my own airplane and to do anything with aviation is very encouraging," said Pope.

There's no set time table on when the robots will begin their true mission, but AFD is hopeful the program won't only save the victims of disaster, but the heroes who risk their lives to rescue them.

The department has only been practicing with the robots for about a month and a half.




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