Watch This Fireproof Drone Not Burn

Now that’s what I call a fire scout!

Fireproof Drone Survives Fire

Fireproof Drone Survives Fire

Screenshot by author, from YouTube

Drones should go where humans can’t. Remotely controlled or autonomous flying robots are at their best when they’re flying into danger, like this wall-crawling, flying drone from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Built to scout the insides of flaming buildings before firefighters arrive, this drone can withstand temperatures of up to 1000 degrees Celsius, or 1832 degrees Fahrenheit, for at least a minute. Like this:

Named Fireproof Aerial RObot System, or FAROS, the drone is built specifically for fires inside skyscrapers, which can be hard to access and assess. FAROS builds off of previous KAIST work, specifically their wall-climbing drones. For drones that fly, making them climb walls may seem as redundant as teaching Superman how to shoot a web, but it means the drone can move around obstacles and stay out of the path of falling debris. It's also good for slipping through narrow cracks, where otherwise the drone's wide profile would get in the way.

KAIST describes how FAROS works:

The drone "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, the FAROS can also detect and find the fire-ignition point by employing dedicated image-processing technology.

The FAROS is fireproof and flame-retardant. The drone's body is covered with aramid fibers to protect its electric and mechanical components from the direct effects of the flame. The aramid fiber 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.

That’s a pretty excellent skill set, and it’s not hard to see how a drone that can survive fires, navigate smoke, and identify where a burn started could help in all sorts of firefighting scenarios, not just skyscrapers. Here’s hoping the research leads to some commercial models.

Watch a short video about it below.