Researchers test drone prototypes over Homestead National Monument of America to burn 26 acres of restored tallgrass prairie. PhotoUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln
From our friends at the NFPA Blog:
Researchers at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln (UNL) have been working on a drone that can set fires while airborne, with the intention of making controlled burns easier and safer. The team recently carried out real-life testing of their creation, which they say will help reduce the risks facing firefighters by letting them set controlled burns remotely.
The aircraft carries balls of potassium permanganate powder that are injected with liquid glycerol before being launched to the ground. The combined chemicals set off a reaction that ignites the materials within 60 seconds after landing.
Prescribed burning is a useful tool that lowers the risk of dangerous wildfires by removing built up underbrush that could fuel an out-of-control blaze. Currently, firefighters use helicopters and handheld launchers to avoid being too close to intentional burns. It’s thought that drones have the potential to be a more efficient and affordable alternative.