The Firefighting Drone: FAROS to the Rescue!
Erin Green posted on January 19, 2016 |
UAV can fly and climb on walls to navigate dangerous high-rise fires.

Firefighters have incredibly difficult and dangerous jobs. It takes a whole lot of bravery to run into a blaze, find people in danger and locate the fire’s origin point, after all. In many cases, it can cost lives.

Forget apps—what if there was a drone for that?


A Firefighter Drone

The Fireproof Aerial RObot System (FAROS) is a UAV developed to help keep everyone safe in situations like high-rise fires. Although it’s designed to fly, it can also climb walls when things heat up. FAROS can detect fires, search building interiors and transfer real-time data from a fire to the ground station.

Here’s a look at how it works:

FAROS uses a quadrotor system to switch between flight mode and “spider” mode in order to move around debris and other obstacles. A 2D laser scanner, altimeter and Inertia Measurement Unit (IMU) help it establish its position and navigate autonomously.

FAROS' sensors and laser scanner let it fly and climb around smoky scenes. (Image courtesy of KAIST.)
FAROS' sensors and laser scanner let it fly and climb around smoky scenes. (Image courtesy of KAIST.)

A thermal imaging camera spots humans inside the building and sends the information back to the ground station along with localization data to assist with rescue efforts. This camera also lets the drone find fire-ignition points to help concentrate firefighters’ efforts.


Standing the Heat

Trial by fire: a team member lights FAROS up to test its fireproof capabilities. (Image courtesy of KAIST.)

Trial by fire: a team member lights FAROS up to test its fireproof capabilities. (Image courtesy of KAIST.)

As suggested by its name, FAROS is fireproof and flame-retardant. A network of aramid fibers protects its sensitive electrical and mechanical innards from open flame. An air buffer and a thermoelectric cooling system beneath this fibrous “skin” help FAROS keep its cool.

Its creators, a team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), claim that the drone can withstand temperatures above 1,800°F (1,000°C) for over a minute. The team put this to the test using a combination of butane gas and ethanol aerosol flames.


Using UAVs to Assist Society

FAROS is a far cry from most of our current uses for drones. Unlike personal drones (for entertainment) or delivery drones, FAROS could actually save lives.

“As cities become more crowded with skyscrapers and super structures, fire incidents in these high-rise buildings are life-threatening massive disasters,” said Hyun Myung, professor of civil and environmental engineering at KAIST. “The FAROS can be aptly deployed to the disaster site at an early stage of such incidents to minimize the damage and maximize the safety and efficiency of rescue missions.”

For more information about this fireproof ‘bot, check out the KAIST website.

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