This paper examines the potential use of fire extinguishing balls as part of a proposed system, where drone and remote-sensing technologies are utilized cooperatively as a supplement to traditional firefighting methods. The proposed system consists of (1) scouting unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to detect spot fires and monitor the risk of wildfire approaching a building, fence, and/or firefighting crew via remote sensing, (2) communication UAS to establish and extend the communication channel between scouting UAS and fire-fighting UAS, and (3) a fire-fighting UAS autonomously traveling to the waypoints to drop fire extinguishing balls (environmental friendly, heat activated suppressants). This concept is under development through a transdisciplinary multi-institutional project. The scope of this paper encloses general illustration of this design, and the experiments conducted so far to evaluate fire extinguishing balls. The results of the experiments show that smaller size fire extinguishing balls available in the global marketplace attached to drones might not be effective in aiding in building fires (unless there are open windows in the buildings already). On the contrary, results show that even the smaller size fire extinguishing balls might be effective in extinguishing short grass fires (around 0.5 kg size ball extinguished a circle of 1-meter of short grass). This finding guided the authors towards wildfire fighting rather than building fires. The paper also demonstrates building of heavy payload drones (around 15 kg payload), and the progress of development of an apparatus carrying fire-extinguishing balls attachable to drones.
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