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Tricked-up drone aids firefighters

Posted: 10 Feb 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:fire? drone? KAIST?

The FAROS "estimates" its pose by utilizing a 2-D laser scanner, an altimeter, and an Inertia Measurement Unit sensor to navigate autonomously. With the localization result and using a thermal-imaging camera to recognize objects or people inside a building, it can detect and find the fire-ignition point by employing dedicated image-processing technology.

To survive the fire itself, the KAIST team made the FAROS fireproof. The drone's body is covered with aramid fibres to protect its electric and mechanical components from the direct effects of the flame. The aramid fibre skin also has a buffer of air underneath it and a thermoelectric cooling system based on the Peltier effect to help maintain the air layer within a specific temperature range.

FAROS withstands fires

Figure 2: The KAIST team used aramid fibres, an insulating layer of air and a Peltier system to keep the drones innards cool.

The research team demonstrated the feasibility of the localization system and wall-climbing mechanism in a smoky indoor environment. The fireproof test showed that the drone could endure the heat of over 1,000C from butane gas and ethanol aerosol flames for over one minute.

The research team is working to better protect the exterior sensors, including a 2-D laser scanner and a thermal-imaging camera, because they could be more exposed to fire than the sensors and components on the inside.

In a press release Professor Myung said, "As cities become more crowded with skyscrapers and super structures, fire incidents in these high-rise buildings are life-threatening massive disasters. The FAROS can be aptly deployed to the disaster site at an early stage of such incidents to minimize the damage and maximize the safety and efficiency of rescue mission."

I remember as a child when one of New Delhi's new tall (14 storeys) buildings at the Rajendra Place was ablaze and several lives were lost (see the archived India Today report here). From the researchers' YouTube video below, it appears the KAIST drone can make a difference if deployed reasonably early, assisting firefighters to pinpoint the source of the fire and arrest the spread. (Or watch the video directly on YouTube here.)

- Vivek Nanda

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