We Make Rapidly Deployable Mobile Sensing Robots for Disaster Rescue, Remote Monitoring, and Space Exploration. 
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Pilot Partnership with SMFR

Squishy Robotics and Southern Manatee Fire & Rescue (SMFR) signed a pilot partnership agreement last week that will send several Squishy Robotics drone-deployable robots to the SMFR to test and use during the department’s emergency response operations and training scenarios over the next year. 

SMFR is a leader in the use of drones for fire and HazMat response. The department, which is in Bradenton between Tampa and Sarasota on Florida’s West Coast, began its drone program in 2015. Focusing first on drone use during HazMat calls, the department has been expanding the use of drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), technology ever since.

“SMFR is considered a thought leader in the use of drones among fire departments,” said Squishy Robotics COO Deniz Dogruer. “We are honored to be working with a team that is so highly respected within the emergency response community.”

In current HazMat responses, SMFR often attaches a multi-gas meter to a drone and lands it near an emergency site, effectively taking the UAV out of the air and dedicating the drone to monitoring only. Now, SMFR first responders will start using drones to airdrop Squishy Robotics’ sensor-equipped robots during emergencies. Once airdropped, a robot can remain close to a “hot zone” and provide enhanced situational awareness by transmitting video and sensor data back to the SMFR team. This delivery also frees the drone to return to the launch site or to perform other duties, such as flyovers that use high-definition or thermal cameras.

“We believe that this will be a win-win for both sides.” Dogruer explained. “Many firefighters talk about drones as force multipliers—and we see our droppable sensor robots as drone multipliers. By combining its drones with our sensor robots, the SMFR team can access lifesaving situational awareness all from a safe distance as team members plan how to respond to an emergency.”

“Our robots are going to be tested by some of the most experienced drone-using first responders in the country,” Dogruer continued. “We see so much value in capturing the feedback from SMFR first responders who have pushed the boundaries of using UAVs in emergencies. SMFR’s drone operation provides so much more than an ‘eye in the sky’ for team members; department drones combined with our robots can be true partners with—and reduce some of the burden and danger from—firefighters and HazMat team members.”

Squishy Robotics plans to update readers as this pilot partnership continues, so expect future articles detailing how our robots are being used in Manatee County, Florida. 

If your department currently uses drones and would be interested in exploring a similar pilot partnership with Squishy Robotics, please contact us

U.S. Army Extends Agreement

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center (CCDC SC) has extended its Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Squishy Robotics for another year. The original CRADA was set to expire next month but will now continue through at least July 24, 2021.

This agreement is focused on testing robot airdrops from high altitudes—thousands of feet rather than drone airdrops of 400 feet or helicopter airdrops of 600 feet. During CRADA testing last year in Arizona, Squishy Robotics completed multiple drop tests from airplanes over the Sonoran Desert. With airplanes reaching altitudes of at least 1,000 feet during these test flights, our robots satisfactorily withstood the impact of these high-altitude airdrops and protected their sensitive sensor-and-camera payloads.

(l to r) Abhishek Bhagwat, Shawn Marshall-Spitzbart, Mruthun Thirumalaisamy, Dr. Alice Agogino, Anita Zhao, Kunj Jain, Wai Yan Nyein, Eliana Abbas, Albert Lee (not a member of the MEng team), Brian Cera, Aditya Vipin Thomas, Rebecca Schwartz, and Douglas Hutchings. Students not pictured: Jigisha Sampat and Varun Save. Photo taken in January before shelter-in-place order.

Mechanical Engineering Students Complete Capstone Projects

Squishy Robotics interns, all UC Berkeley MEng students working on their master’s degree in mechanical engineering, marked the end of the 2019-2020 school year and the completion of their capstone projects in late May. Projects ranged from building and testing different tensegrity structures to drop targeting.

Interns and their Squishy Robotics mentors quickly determined how best to adjust these academic efforts to adhere to Berkeley's shelter-in-place order, which went into effect March 17. Assembly work transferred from university and Squishy Robotics labs to apartment kitchen tables, and students’ final presentations were given online. In place of the traditional post-presentation dinner, everyone celebrated with a socially distant but still enjoyable Zoom-streamed dance party complete with a spinning disco ball background. 

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Are you interested in playing a critical role in the development of new technology for first responders by providing your feedback? 
If so, contact us to learn about potential pilot partnership opportunities as well as to find out about demo and sales information.
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