- Charl Jooste
Hard-core Firefly Drones to Help Fight California Wildfires
Image: Parallel Flight Technologies
The California wildfires are nothing new, but they have escalated in recent years with devastating results. The dry, hot, and windy conditions in California and other areas have resulted in massive damage, suffering, and death. The cost and risk to combat these fires are massive. Fortunately, technology is helping in the form of some heavy-duty drones.
This ongoing problem poses a great risk to the ecology of the area, the plants, and animals, as well as humans. At greater risk are those brave souls that attempt to slow the spread or stop these fires. Apart from those concerns, the costs of the exercise as well as the devastation caused runs into billions of dollars. Past control and firefighting methods are proving to be less effective as the fires rave the area. Drones appear to be the solution.
These are not your average drones, far from it. Joshua Resnick, from one of the companies spearheading this initiative, CEO of Parallel Flight Technologies this to say “Drones are going to get bigger and we’re leading the way. We’re building something that’s an autonomous workhorse, that can actually carry big stuff around.”
The use of aircraft and helicopters in combatting wildfires is nothing new. They have long been used to combat this problem. The problem is that they take time to authorize and deploy. They are expensive to operate and pose a great threat to the crew. At times, resources are limited, which adds to the problem. Poor visibility due to smoke is another major challenge.
Thanks to advanced drone technology, these risks can be reduced, and safer and more effective solutions are put in place. Resnick goes on to say, “What we don’t have are essentially pickup trucks of the sky We don’t have workhorses that can bring supplies to firefighters on the front lines or drop off payloads to do controlled burns, and we don’t have drones that can put small fires out.”
Parallel Flight drones can handle up to seven hours of operation. Much more than many of the best commercial drones. They use a hybrid fuel and electric system for power, which is what allows these impressive flight times.
The drones being used are 120-pound four propeller Firefly drones. They can handle a payload of up to 100 pounds and cover a vast distance. These drones can achieve impressive speeds of 60 to 100 mph.
Another area where these drones come in handy is creating prescribed burns. These are fires that are strategically lit intentionally to minimize the risk of accidental fires from spreading. This saves not only communities but also protects the environment. It is a practice that has been used for a long time. The Firefly can do this faster, more economically, and with little to no risk to human life. They are also exceptionally accurate.
Image: Parallel Flight Technologies
Parallel Flight Technologies intends to make these drones available for other uses, including parcel delivery to remote areas, and other commercial applications in the construction and shipping industry.
Their primary focus, however, remains combating wildfires.
The company has some serious backing, and they have already received grants of more than $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. NASA and the National Science Foundation are also injecting money into the project.
This is good news for the residents of California, as well as the environment. It is certainly a massive advancement in the commercial and industrial drone space.
SOURCE: Parallel Flight Technologies