Paris Firefighters Used This Remote-Controlled Robot to Extinguish the Notre Dame Blaze

IEEE Spectrum

Colossus can carry heavy hoses into spots that are too dangerous for human firefighters to enter

The Paris Fire Brigade has seen its share of logistical challenges, but the massive conflagration that consumed parts of the Notre Dame cathedral on the night of 15 April required a fight of epic proportions. The cathedral is 856 years old and built in a style that makes it almost structurally impossible to contain a fire. The site doubles as both a wildly popular tourist attraction and a holy site for Christians. Defending this symbol of French heritage would require all the tactical and physical power the Brigade had at its disposal—human and otherwise.

Soon after firefighters arrived at the scene, the cathedral’s giant spire began to show signs of collapsing into the building. For onlookers, a collapse would be a devastating loss of a religious and cultural monument; for the Paris fire brigade, it would threaten the lives of the more than 400 firefighters already on the scene.

It was time to bring in the robot.

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