We've seen robot firefighters
before, and even a robot firefighting contest
, but it looks like some brave bots from the folks at Qinetiq are among the first to actually see service, although their roles are decidedly limited for the time being. According to Popular Mechanics, the robots are only being used to put out fires involving Acetylene gas, which had previously simply been left to burn themselves out due to the risk of explosions. With the bots, however, they're able get things moving along far more quickly, which is especially useful when the blaze is causing train delays. It seems that's a job too big for just one robot, however, as Qinetiq has reportedly been commissioned to put three bots into service during a six month trial period, including a Talon bot that uses thermal imaging to asses the situation, a 2,160-pound Brokk 90 robot that can "tear through walls or shove vehicles out the way," and last but not least the ATV-sized "Black Max" that actually douses the situation. Sadly, it seems that the bots are all remotely-controlled for the time being, and not fully autonomous, but we're sure it's only a matter of time before they really get to show what they're capable of.