Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Fire Department became the first city in the country to add a firefighting robot to their ranks—and it has already proven its metal on the frontlines.
Weighing about 3,500 pounds, the Thermite Robotic Systems 3 firefighting vehicle—or RS3 for short—is capable of deploying about 2,500 gallons of water per minute. The vehicle, which can be controlled by a handheld remote from a safe distance, is also equipped with a high-definition video stream so that the operator can easily maneuver the robot through difficult conditions in the field.
Although The Los Angeles Times reports that the RS3 is about the same size as a Smart car, it is small enough to fit through a set of double doors while also being strong enough to plow its way through a wall should the need arise.
“We can fight the fire from inside,” LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas told the news outlet, adding that the robot was a “game-changer” for his team.
Prior to the RS3 being unveiled to the public at a press conference earlier this week, it had been deployed alongside 130 human firefighters to help extinguish a “major emergency” commercial fire in downtown Los Angeles.
Despite how the severity of the blaze forced firefighters to withdraw from the two buildings and use their hoses from the outside, the RS3 was able to continue onwards and unleash its water cannon from the inside.
The LAFD Foundation was able to purchase the military-grade robot for the department thanks to a “sizable donation” during one of their fundraisers.
The RS3 will now be assigned to Firehouse 3, which is reportedly the busiest fire station in the city.
After the robot’s successful deployment this week, officials hope that the robot will continue to help protect the Los Angeles community and its firefighters.