In 2018, Trevor Simelane, 16, and Joseph Mdluli, 17, watched in horror as a bank fire took the lives of three firefighters in Johannesburg, South Africa. This sparked an idea to create a fire-fighting robot.
They entered their invention into the HIP2B² 3M Innovation Challenge, a competition for young people to solve major issues within their communities using science, technology, and math.
The robot took home the top prize thanks to a design that wowed the judges, an ingenious body similar to a toy car and a remote made from a cardboard box.
“The robot is meant to detect people in [a burning] building and extinguish fires. It uses dry powder and wet chemicals to stop the fire instead of water,” Simelane explained. It helps extinguish out-of-control fires by transforming smoke into carbon dioxide.