This Robotic Mini-Tank Extinguishes Deadly Fires with 600 Gallons of Water a Minute

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Sometimes a fire is too dangerous for the fire department. Whether it's the risk of an explosion, work on a surface that could collapse, or the presence of hazardous chemicals, a firefighter is always vulnerable. Now, when conditions pose too great a risk for a human, we can enlist a tank. A robot tank. The Howe and Howe T2-Thermite.

Nearly five-feet-high and six-feet-long, the Thermite is a 1640-pound mobile fire extinguisher capable of dragging more than a 1000 pounds behind it. The steel vehicle is outfitted with treads so that it can endure any surface the situation throws at its feet. The Thermite can unload 600 gallons of water every minute in whatever direction its controller orders—from as far as a quarter-mile away.

But what would this thing be used for? For starters, this could help extinguish a car or a truck that has caught fire. Or it could be a first responder at the site of a train wreck. Or if there's a situation where a chemical plant has caught fire, the Thermite could help assess the risk and suppress the flames. At $96,000 a bot, the Howe isn't cheap, but relative to the cost of a firefighter's life, it's a bargain. [Howe and Howe via Wired]