The Challenge: To build a robotic arm which could reach over a barrier and extinguish 3 candles in as short a time as possible. The intent was to simulate techniques used in battling the Kuwaiti oil fires left in the wake of the Persian Gulf War. Because these fires burned so intensely, robotic arms were necessary to extinguish them.
Technical Approach: I built a hydraulically-operated robotic arm that had six degrees of freedom and extinguished flames with a combination high-speed fan and water jet.
Selected Design Features: Excluding the base, the robotic arm was entirely built on a milling machine and lathe, and contained over 33 individually machined parts. Materials used include aluminum, brass, copper, Teflon, carbon fiber, and wood. Medical syringes acted as hydraulic cylinders, and different food colorings were used to help trace leaks and to visually assist in the control of the robotic arm. When tested, the robotic arm was able to overcome an 18-inch wall and extinguish all three flames within 18 seconds.