The ape-inspired RoboSimian was caught on video exploding into flames after its battery suddenly exploded. Researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory had recently fitted a new lithium-ion battery to the robot – alike the ones used in smartphones and hoverboards.
They plugged it into the charger and went off on a lunch break, leaving the bionic monkey isolated in the lab. In this shocking clip shown below, smoke is seen streaming from the robot seconds prior to bursting into flames. After the initial battery ruptures, an intern from the neighbouring lab climbs through a window and sprays RoboSimian with a fire extinguisher. Firefighters finally dragged the robot outside to prevent it setting fire to the whole building. NASA is yet to deliver its conclusive report into the event, however, Brett Kennedy, head of the RoboSimian project, informed Wired magazine that the battery plausibly had a damaged cell.
This would have caused the battery to get overcharged, overheated, and the end result being the battery catching fire, and promptly taking the rest of the battery with it. Lithium-ion battery explosions have remained a big issue over the past few months, subsequent to the Galaxy Note 7 blunder. Samsung was ordered to begin a worldwide recall Note 7 smartphones after a succession of occurrences involving batteries catching fire and exploding.
Whilst the RoboSimian explosion is not unique, it is an extreme example of this variety of accident. The lithium-ion battery inside a smartphone is composed of just a single cell, whereas RoboSimian was packed with 96 of them, ending in a fierce chain reaction.
It does pose the question if NASA cannot make a Lithium-ion battery safe and/or have staff that cannot treat Lithium-ion batteries properly then what hope can there be for the Chinese manufacturers of hoverboards and the kids who use them?
This fire could have been prevented if our Fire Protect Bag were to be used, not only were people at risk, there is the cost. The cost of the RoboSimbian is not known but the damage has to be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds and this could have been stopped with a bag costing less than $90!