Honours Thesis Project (Research & Design)
RMIT University, Bachelor of Industrial Design
by Robert Sangalli, 2020

Abstract

This project speculates on the design of an unmanned ground vehicle for rural fire fighting contexts in an effort to reduce service member casualties involved in vehicle-related incidents during seasonal Australian bushfires. To accomplish effective research, some key questions have presented themselves: What are the limitations with current rural fire tanker trucks? Can rural fire services benefit from remote-controlled vehicles in their fighting force? What sort of capabilities should a vehicle like this have that allows it to be more effective than existing tanker vehicles in context?

The end product of this research is a conceptual design of a purpose-built fire service unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) that has an expansion of abilities which out perform a typical Rural Fire Service (RFS) tanker truck. This design process required a user-group based approach to establish the vehicles’ base potential which ultimately led to a technological-driven design development phase to produce a realistic concept proposition.

Initial design ideations began with a series of sketches intertwined with rapidly produced CAD formations. In doing so, this allowed for more in-depth experimentation during early design stages to explore configurations that move away from conventional vehicle design thinking. This project demonstrates through research of existing technological advancements in robotics, optical sensory systems, and vehicle technologies that the rationale behind this speculative design could inspire the feasibility to create such a vehicle in the near future (next 5-10 years).

This project contributes primarily to the field of automotive design but also adheres to elements of industrial design. Although this project design outcome does not resolve all issues identified throughout the project, the goal moving forward is to promote and inspire a possible direction for future developments in this space.