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Why it matters: While there was extensive damage done to the building, the fire at Notre-Dame didn’t totally destroy the 856-year-old cathedral. Helping the 400+ firefighters tackle the blaze was Colossus—the Paris Firefighter Brigade’s 1,100-pound robot.
Trying to put out the 15-hour inferno that started at Notre-Dame on Monday presented some unique challenges. US firefighter Gregg Favre explained how old churches have few, if any, passive fire protection systems, and that the heavy 2.5-inch fire hoses are difficult to maneuver and largely ineffective against fires like these. But the biggest concern was the risk of the old timber structure collapsing on top of the firefighters.
This option also means placing responders on the inside as the roof is falling down around them.— Gregg Favre (@GreggFavre) April 15, 2019
And we aren't talking shingles.
This is heavy timber construction. Often 12"x12" in old churches, perhaps bigger in a #Cathedral this old. pic.twitter.com/RwO3N1Qrjw
Thankfully, Colossus was on hand to help. The robot’s design allows it to endure harsh conditions while operating a fire hose, moving heaving equipment, or carrying the wounded to safety. The machine, which is around 5.25-feet long, 2.5-feet wide, and slightly under 2.5-feet tall, can be operated from 1000-feet away.
French firm Shark Robotics created Colossus, which, as you’d imagine, is waterproof and fire-resistant. The six lithium-ion batteries power two electric motors that can push the robot to 2.2 mph. It’s also able to traverse difficult terrain and carry 1,200 pounds.
Colossus had other machines helping it fight the Notre-Dame fire. Two drones—a DJI Mavic Pro and a Matrice M210—were used to thermally map the building and direct water toward the hottest parts.
Utilizing Colossus helped ensure nobody was killed during the fire, though two police officers and a firefighter were reportedly injured, according to the New York Times.
A number of companies and individuals, including Apple and Ubisoft, have donated money to help rebuild Notre-Dame. The fund reached one billion Euros ($1.13 billion) after just two days, bringing questions over whether some French donors had ulterior motives such as tax breaks and political influence, and why it has raised so much more than other, arguably more worthy causes. Should the insurance pay for the fire damage, the donations might not even be required.
We are heartbroken for the French people and those around the world for whom Notre Dame is a symbol of hope. Relieved that everyone is safe. Apple will be donating to the rebuilding efforts to help restore Notre Dame’s precious heritage for future generations.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 16, 2019