It’s takeoff for new technology to fight fires.
“In normal situations a manned helicopter wouldn’t be able to fly over fire,” Ryan Heilemann said.
A trio of University of Connecticut engineering students is getting a firefighting drone off the ground.
“The idea is that you could put an approximate GPS coordinates of where a fire might be and the drone takes off and flies to those coordinates and then searches the ground until it sees a fire and then adjusts itself to fly directly over the fire and then it can drop its extinguishing mechanism right over the fire,” Kerry Jones said.
The drone is part of a senior design project sponsored by Sikorsky. The large frame drone uses thermal imaging technology to identify and then help extinguish fires.
“That allows it to detect a fire at a greater distance away from it and therefore mitigate the chance of actually having any loss of life or the drone actually crashing or anything like that,” Heilemann said.
The project is a proof of concept, showing that the technology is possible. The students say the drone will eventually translate to a larger scale.
“Although we don’t see a large amount of human toll these days it is something that in the future if we can completely mitigate having any chance of a loss of life at something as simple as fighting fires it would just show leaps and bounds what we could do with this sort of technology going forward,” Joshua Steil said.
The hard engineering work has paid off. Two of the students have already been hired by Sikorsky.