Squishy Robotics 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. 

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