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Lithium battery failure wipes out DARPA robot at NASA

Serves as a reminder to us all that we should probably read up on fire safety.
Daniel Cooper, @danielwcooper
October 28, 2016
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It's not just Samsung that has problems with combusting batteries, as NASA's office of Safety and Mission Assurance has just revealed. The body has announced that NASA centers have seen at least four major explosions and a number of close calls over the last decade. The latest crisis was a fire at the Jet Propulsion Lab that wiped out one of DARPA's RoboSimian droids before a test.

Admittedly, the inquest has found that actually this was the fault of the test engineers, who forgot to enable a power management system. But one thing that becomes patently obvious is that, as lithium-ion batteries become ubiquitous, there's a looming safety issue. NASA found that none of the personnel that tried to tackle the blaze knew how to fight the fire, and the proper safety equipment hadn't been installed. Now that you know that NASA is ill-equipped to deal with battery fires, imagine how well you'll do when that smartphone, tablet, laptop or hoverboard goes up in flames.

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