Fire-fighting Drones?!

3689490079?profile=originalHello all, I am a newbie from Christchurch, New Zealand (born in UK though). A few years ago (well, quite a few), I was very much into my Electronics & R/C - just for fun & challenge etc. I would often think that a drone could be a useful addition to the fire service, in order to help quench a raging forest fire etc! Now I see the UAV has really 'taken off'! I havn't been even close to R/C or my hobby, Electronics, for about 20 years due to my various disabilities,

But a drone could easily be programmed to refresh its water payload at a close lake or at sea etc. Many such drones could be utilised for a team of them to really help douse a fire? Technology has really made many quantum leaps & is getting faster & faster, so fast that we are dragging the chain in the ideas department to utilise this rapid growth. All's I mean by that, is often I see an outdated system or device that could easily benifit from modern aid.

It seems that unless there is a $ to be made, people are not that interested in helping other people that could really use some decent help from some decent people! I  can see some non combat UAVs being put to a good use (as seen in many videos) & so I think that you guys are the ones that can engineer such a system (a fire UAV) & do it for common good & technical challenge etc (enormous, but with technology & brains, some  AI  ...)! I guess you & your experiences in UAV, GPS, IR heat sensors and some very clever inginuity, may be able to flex your UAV muscles & make it all work!

I hope I havn't stood on anyones toes here, if I did, it was not intentional! I jusat hope spmeone may see the points that I am trying to make & share their interesting hobby & clever techniques with the rest of the world that is not aware of such efforts & achievments you are each doing, one way or another.

Thanks for allowing me to even get close to the real brains of the world! Enjoy your day, see ya!



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  • As currently helicopter technology allows for carrying heavy loads, like those which fight forest fires, it is possible to build a larger drone which can fit the purpose and drop water on fires.  The problem would be cost.  Without a helicopter crew and all the safety features that go along with putting people into airborne vehicle, I think it might be cheaper than the equivalent crew + fire fighting helicopter.

    As battery technology progresses and allows for better flight times and high carrying capacity I can see fully autonomous fire fighting drones automatically responding to fire emergencies.  Just waiting on the battery tech, everything else is pretty much ready to go.

  • Hi all, as I said, I am a newbie! So new, I have not done forums or very much on line editing etc! I want to reply to the comments that several people have posted back to me, but its not immediately obvious (to me) where to click, to reply to each message. I am sure that once you have done it once, it will be as obvious as the nose on my face, but this 'comment' edit area is the only one that I can find! Not sure if I am commenting to myself (my own post) or to the last message I read etc? HELP, I am drowning here!

    Thanks for all your valid comments & I will try to reply to each one,  when I stumble on the big red flashing button! Thank you & best regards.


    See ya!



  • Oh, how about a chemical the size of peanut. Inert after it has deployed and contain fertilizer to help the area grow again?
    Transponder that interfaces width the APM for identification, each copter has its own MAC address.:)
  • Perhaps we are not thinking "out of the box" (I hate that saying).
    Instead of water what about a fire retardant chemical or something else?
    A compressed chemical the size of bar of soap that expands when heat? Consumes oxygen?
    Not a bigger copter but smaller.
    Not one copter but a swarm.
    Deliver the payload and go back to refill and recharge?
    Different battery?
    Programed to target an area until extinguished and move to the next area.

    Some thoughts.
  • I'm with Jesse and the other commentators on this one -- it's a wonderful idea: drones tirelessly carrying buckets of water from a nearby lake to a hot spot designated by the IC -- but it isn't practical with the technology we currently have available. Battery life is too short and payloads are too small. You might possibly be able to implement Richard's suggestion, of removing the human crew from a conventional aircraft (fixed wing or helo), and flying it remotely or using some sort of auto-pilot, but I can't help but think that the situational awareness that comes from being on board is a real benefit in those situations.

    Alan, we have put together something that resembles your "dream-sheet item" -- she's a hex and she doesn't have a gimbal, but other than that she fills the bill. Here's the video of her in action during a prescribed burn (previously posted elsewhere on this site):

  • T3

    The problem is just scale.  Just build a plane or helicopter or OctaCopter that's huge.  We are talking about the scale that equals the current tanker planes or helicopters used today to fight fires.  Put an on board remote flight system with cameras and remove the pilots.  That's what the military is doing with there drone systems.

  • I have to agree with Jesse. A UAV, be it fixed-wing or fling-wing, would serve best as a surveillance tool, but would come into its own in extreme or hazardous terrain, either for seeking out hotspots and extension, or for assisting in SAR.

    One of my dream-sheet items is a quad with both a "standard" video camera and an infrared camera, co-installed on a gimbal for stabilized viewing. I know there are already commercial variants of that setup out there, but I don't have USD60,000 to drop on one!

  • Water weighs around 8lbs per gallon... that's a tall order for a "drone", even a large sized one, to be able to carry any significant amount. Drones can be great for providing live video footage of a fire, perhaps even help with search-and-rescue in a fire, but I believe that's about it.

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