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SAFFiR - Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot

SAFFiR is a bipedal humanoid-robot developed by researchers at Virginia Tech (sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR)), that can walk across uneven floors, use thermal imaging to identify overheated equipment and use a hose to extinguish a small fire. SAFFiR stands 5 feet 10 inches and weighs 143 pounds.

“We set out to build and demonstrate a humanoid capable of mobility aboard a ship, manipulating doors and fire hoses, and equipped with sensors to see and navigate through smoke,” said Dr. Thomas McKenna, ONR program manager for human-robot interaction and cognitive neuroscience. “The long-term goal is to keep Sailors from the danger of direct exposure to fire.”

[press release]

An Opening Night to Remember

Everything was happening so fast, it was almost dizzying. When she got cast in late June, rehearsals started quickly after. And these rehearsals weren’t anything like the community theatre rehearsals she’d done before the miscarriage. They were long and intense and physically and mentally and emotionally demanding, but ultimately flew by. She’d built great relationships with her cast members and felt more confident about her talent than she had in awhile. As stressful and draining as it could be, she was proud of herself and the show that had been put together. The past month had been amazing and here she was in her dressing room, looking at herself in the mirror and blocking out the noise around her. Tech week was hell and previews went smoothly, and here she was now – opening night. To say she was happy would’ve been an understatement.

Her relationship with Finn had been on its way to healing, and even though she hadn’t been in the same place as him in over a month, she felt closer to him than she ever had since telling him about what she’d done. They talked once a day, whether through phone calls, text messages, or Facetime, which was more than what she could ever ask for. Today, however, she hadn’t heard anything from Finn until right before places were called and it was a simple text that said, “Break a leg.” She wished he’d called her earlier when she had time to talk, but it wasn’t long after she read it that she had to get in place for the opening number of Rent. She checked herself once more in the mirror before leaving the dressing room she shared with a few other cast mates. Excessive eye makeup, check. Glitter on face, check. Her costume looked as it was supposed to, and she was ready to go. She got in her place and within seconds it was Rachel Berry’s New York theatre debut as Maureen Johnson in Jonathan Larson’s Rent. How crazy was that?

The show went perfectly for her, and every note she belted was pristine. It was a hard role to play, and Rachel was often very critical, but tonight she could genuinely say she was satisfied. As the show neared to a close, she felt herself get emotional while singing the finally. Her summer had been complete hell with how much she nearly ruined her marriage and went to New York with a weak support system. It was all so crazy and she didn’t think her summer would have such a high note like doing this show. It was unbelievable but she was so happy and things were slowly but surely looking up for her. The cast got a standing ovation, and she cried during bows – all tears of joy. She couldn’t wait to get to the stage door and see Kurt and Blaine. She rushed to get her costume off and packed all of her things and rushed through the stage door. She got outside and the crowd had already erupted with other actors signing autographs and Rachel’s Sharpie was in hand so she could do the same for the Playbills that were extended to her. She couldn’t help the grin that was just widening on her face.