Unexpectedly Intriguing!
22 March 2024

If you're a firefighter, one of the biggest hassles you have involves directing the water from a firehose to where a fire is burning.

That's not an easy job because of the high pressure of the water flowing through the firehose. For traditional firehoses, once the water is turned on, firefighters are limited in how they can direct it. They can angle the end of the hose within a small range and they can move the hose laterally along the ground to some extent, but doing so takes a lot of manual effort as you can see in firehose handling training videos.

But what if you could fly or steer the hose exactly where you need it to be to put out a fire? Better still, what if the hose could be either automatically or remotely-controlled so the risks to firefighters' lives from their inherent occupational hazards could be reduced?

That thinking lies behind the "Dragon Firefighter" flying robotic firehose being developed as an open source project by Japanese researchers at the Akita Prefectural University. As you'll see in the following video, "Dragon Firefighter" isn't just a cute project name. It's a useful description that accurately conveys what their innovation is and how it is intended to work.

If it's not already clear from the video, here's a written description of how the Dragon Firefighter works (HT: Core77):

The Dragon Firefighter’s firehose is propelled upward (flying at two meters above the ground) by eight controllable jets of water spouting from its center and head. The firehose can change shape and be oriented towards flames, steered by a control unit in a wheeled cart behind. The cart is connected through a supply tube to a fire truck with a water reservoir of 14,000 liters.

The nozzles spout water at a rate of 6.6 liters per second with a pressure of up to one megapascal. The hose’s tip contains a conventional and thermal imaging camera, which help to find the location of the fire.

The researchers anticipate they their flying robotic firehose concept is about ten years of development away from finding its way into the everyday arsenal of modern fire departments, where one of their bigger challenges is extending its length and range.


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