Fighting the Flames: The Revolutionary Flying Firefighting Dragon Robot
A robot dragon that does not like fire.
Is this Mushu from Mulan or Viserion from Game of Thrones?
In an innovative move, a research team from Japan has developed a firefighting flying “dragon” robot. Literally named the “Dragon Firefighter, it offers a novel approach to tackling challenging and hazardous fire scenarios.
Turning the traditional idea of a dragon on its head, this unassuming device spouts water instead of flames, putting out fires instead of starting them. Similar devices may not just help put out fires faster but also improve the safety and working conditions of firefighters, saving both valuable property and lives.
The project began in 2016 and was led by Professor Satoshi Tadokoro from Tohoku University. The team is comprised of both researchers and students from 3 different universities across Japan. The team also published its findings in a research paper in the Frontiers journal.
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Dragon Firefighter - The Genesis of Aerial Firefighting Technology
The introduction of the Dragon Firefighter (DFF), a flying-hose-type robot which is likely to evolve existing firefighting strategies.
Its development stems from the need for rapid and safe fire extinguishing methods, especially in hazardous environments. Previous methods, mostly ground-based, although effective, often posed risks to firefighters and were limited in scope.
With its aerial capabilities, the DFF represents a significant step forward in firefighting technology, promising enhanced efficiency and safety.
Design and Material Innovation
The DFF is a 4-meter-long apparatus comprising a flexible hose equipped with two drone-like apparatus (called “nozzle units”), one in the middle and one at the end of the hose. Each nozzle unit is accompanied by four individual nozzles.
Diagram showing the DFF’s nozzle unit design
One of the most ingenious things about the DFF is that these nozzles serve a dual purpose. Not only do they spray the water to combat fires, but the sheer pressure of the water spray is what steers the hose and keeps it suspended in the air. With each nozzle spouting water at 6.6 liters per second, the jets are strong enough to fly the hose two meters above the ground.
The hose body, made from heat-resistant polypropylene, offers the necessary flexibility and durability for high-temperature operations.
The hose is piloted from a control unit with mounted wheels. The control unit is connected to a fire truck (or other water source) with a supply tube.
Capabilities: Beyond Extinguishing Fires
The DFF's capabilities extend beyond conventional firefighting. Its design allows for maneuvering in complex environments, reaching areas previously inaccessible to human firefighters.
Equipped with cameras and thermal imaging, it can identify and target fire sources with high precision. Operators guide the robot using real-time feedback from these various sensors for a high degree of precision. And, it gives operators to respond immediately in dynamic situations, for example, a structural collapse.
The robot's innovative use of water jets for both flight and firefighting demonstrates a dual-purpose functionality, enhancing its operational efficiency.
This remote operation significantly reduces the risk to human firefighters. It could be used in extremely hazardous situations, such as where there’s a risk of toxic gas emissions, explosions, or structural collapse.
We should all applaud the team for their contribution to both the fields of robotics and firefighting. Not only did they come up with an innovative and practical solution that could potentially save lives, but they also released their paper as Open Science, making it possible for anyone to use their base concept.
Other notable firefighting robots...
The LUF 60 by LUF Ltd in Austria.
Thermite by Howe & Howe from USA.
TAF 60 and TAF 60X by EMI Controls.
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