Squishy robots give Olathe firefighters remote insight during emergencies

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OLATHE, Kan. —The Olathe Fire Department is testing out new technology that could help keep firefighters safe. Thanks to a new partnership with Squishy Robotics, the department now has access to three new tensegrity robots that can be used to prevent exposure to hazardous chemicals. 

The six-month pilot program will allow firefighters to get hands-on experience operating the new technology. Using a drone, firefighters can easily drop the Squishy Robot into spaces it would be unsafe to send a person. 

Squishy Robots are made of flexible materials that allow it to be dropped from extreme heights. The built-in camera gives a 360 view of an active emergency that first responders can view using a laptop from a distance. 

Captain Mike Hall with the Olathe Fire Department said the goal is to keep first residents and firefighters safe while collecting real-time information on an active emergency. 

“This is a technology we can deploy with a person. We can throw it somewhere, or we can use other technology like a drone to drop it where we want it,” Hall said. “Once it gets down, it actually has cameras on it, so we can get the real-time information. We can also use different types of sensors to figure out if there is something in an area that is hazardous.” 

Officers can use the Squishy Robot to view active emergencies and monitor chemical exposure levels from a distance.

When the six-month pilot period ends in 2022, the Olathe Fire Department will have the option to transition to a discounted purchase agreement with Squishy Robotics.

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