Firefighters are brave. But they're humans and they get hurt. So scientists at the University of California at San Diego have created a Segway-like robot that uses thermal imaging to help people fight fires better.

Think of these agile robots as scouts fitted with all kinds of fire-stomping tech. They have a pair of RGB cameras that take stereo data of the burning structure. They can even climb stairs. Additionally, they're fitted with various sensors that can grab data like temperatures, volatile gasses, and structural issues with a building. They zoom into a building ahead of fire fighters, and provide all this important information on a comprehensive thermal 3D map, immediately given to first responders. So while a fireman's donning his gear, he could check out the map and know that he doesn't want to take the stairs, because they're in danger of collapsing, for example.

These robots are being presented this week at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Hong Kong. And hopefully in the future, the robot recon team will be working with our valiant human heroes, putting out blazes. [Phys.org]

There's a Fire-Fighting Mini-Segway That Might Save Your Life Someday