FireSAM was created during the 2004-2005
school year, thanks to a $10,000 grant from Lemelson-MIT and support from local
companies. He was designed to carry firefighting equipment up
stairs, thereby freeing fiefighters from this exhausting task.
The inspiration for FireSAM came from images of firefighters
trekking upstairs laden with firefighting following the Twin Towers on 9-11
attack. Indeed, later research by Mr. Rogers' AP Statistics class revealed that
the number on cause of on the job firefighters death is stress and fatigue.
FireSAM made his debut at the 2005 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam showcase
where he spent two days on display and demonstrated his ability to
climb stairs (see picture at left).
While there, he was in a presentation in
which he amazed spectators by driving up the stairs through the crowd.
However, FireSAM climbs stairs a little too fast for proper control.
A commercialized version would need to be geared for a slower
FireSAM is a prototype robot capable of climbing up stairs while carrying equipment for
firefighters. A commercial version would enable firefighters to concentrate on putting the
fire out and rescuing victims without all of the stress and strain of
lugging heavy equipment upstairs. He has a powerful on-board computer to
allow for further software development such as the inclusion of sensors and
possibly limited AI (artificial intelligence). He also has a strobe light,
which we thought was pretty cool.
Learned From FireSAM
FireSAM had plenty of power and the tri-wheel
design was capable of climbing stairs. However, his lowest speed was
too high and he tended to bounce on the stairs. At times this caused
him to flip on his back. His original center of mass was located in
the middle of FireSAM. Later research showed that locating the
center of mass toward his front helped make him more stable on
Further R&D would be needed to make fireSAM a
commercial reality, but he has clearly demonstrated that a stair
climbing robot for firefighters is feasible.
At the moment, FireSAM has been decommissioned and
faces an uncertain future due to a lack of funding and various
Sprockets were welded to his wheels leaving no
room to refill FireSAM's pneumatic tires which have all gone flat.
Of course, this could be fixed with new wheels but would cost $200+.
FireSAM was also originally geared for a speed of
5 mph--too fast for stability when stair climbing. Again, this could
be remedied but would cost on the order of hundreds of dollars.
FireSAM's computer and control system are now also
out of date and in need of replacement. However, this could be done
for very little money by outfitting him with an Android phone and if
he is returned to service, this will be one of his modifications.
Hopefully, FireSAM will be once again climbing
stairs some time in the future but it may be a while.