When it comes to firefighting, and indeed any public safety application, it’s essential to get the best tools for the job. When people’s lives are on the line, the last thing you want is malfunctioning or subpar equipment. This is especially true when we’re talking about firefighting drones. Your regular run of the mill drone in this type of work could actually do more harm than good if it can’t stand up to the rigors of the job. What is needed is a drone that can handle the extreme conditions of a fire or natural disaster scene, in addition to having the right kind of features to actually assist firefighters where needed.
So, how exactly does a firefighting drone assist firefighters? In the case of a structure fire, when first arriving on the scene, the drone can be deployed to assess the scene, before the firefighters are put in harms way. When equipped with a thermal camera, the drone can show operators where the hotspots are, and also have the ability to see through smoke and in low light conditions. The thermal camera can then allow operators to monitor crew members and conditions, improving efficiency and safety. The drone can also be equipped with a spotlight to assist firefighters in dark or low light conditions. After the smoke has cleared, drones can also aid in the critical work of assessing the damage, whether it be from a fire or other natural disasters. Drones can be used in surveying and mapping to aid in clean-up or rebuilding, inspecting infrastructure, or locating missing persons after a natural disaster.
First responders are often tasked with search and rescue missions, and in this as well, the role of drones is critical to saving lives. A drone can easily cover large areas of territory much more quickly than ground operations. A thermal camera is invaluable in this instance as well, in finding individuals at night or low light conditions. In search and rescue missions, it is also important that the drone be equipped with a high quality visual camera with a powerful zoom in order to identify individuals and assess their condition. Drones can also be equipped with a payload drop system to deliver rescue items to individuals in hard to reach locations.
The Best Drone for the Job
The demands required of a firefighting and rescue drone are high, and narrow the field considerably in terms of which aircraft and equipment are capable of performing the work. One drone that is a perfect fit for firefighting is the Matrice 210 V2, dual equipped with the Zenmuse XT2 thermal camera and the Zenmuse Z30 visual camera. The XT2 thermal camera provides the essential ability for firefighters to see through the smoke to monitor hotspots, and manage ground crew operations. Additionally, the 30Hz full frame refresh rate of the XT2 ensure that operators have as clear an image of the scene and crew as possible, with less motion blur, to enable the firefighting team to make precise, timely and well informed decisions.
The Z30 visual camera is perfect for getting an overview of the scene, and with a 30x optical zoom, with an additional 6x digital zoom, the Z30 is unparalleled in its ability to provide operators with accurate and specific detail that will allow for improved precision and safety. The Z30 is also perfect for search and rescue missions, with the TapZoom feature which allows operators to simply tap on a point of interest on the control screen causing the Zenmuse Z30 to automatically adjusting its focal length to give an enlarged view, making even distant and minute details visible in just seconds.
Another key feature of the Matrice 210 V2 is its weather and water resistance. The M210 is able to fly in windy, wet conditions, with an IP43 rating, and max wind speed resistance of 39.4 ft/s. This, in conjunction with the IP44 rating of the XT2, both aircraft and camera are equipped to handle the rigors of a firefighting scene, where spray from fire hoses, and wind created by both water and fire are just part of the job. The Matrice 210 V2 provides added safety and performance features over the previous version, making it an ideal choice in the situations faced by a firefighting drone. These improvements include an enhanced intelligent control system, flight performance, and add flight safety and data security features. The M210 V2 features improved obstacle avoidance, with a robust FlightAutonomy system with front, bottom and upper sensors to detect and avoid obstacles and allow for precision hovering. In a situation with burning buildings, extended fire truck ladders, you name it, this level of obstacle avoidance ability is a must.
Also new in the M210 are the anti-collision beacons, located on top and bottom of the aircraft, making the V2 drones visible at night or in low light conditions, improving safety in operations in less than ideal conditions. These beacons are immensely useful in firefighting situations, and also in search and rescue missions, enabling the drone to be seen by supporting crew, and/or missing persons.
The M210 V2 also comes equipped with a built-in ADS-B receiver. This enables the DJI AirSense technology, which enhances airspace safety by automatically providing the operator with real-time information about nearby airplanes and helicopters. In natural disaster response, this can be critical to ensuring safety at a time when other agency aircraft, manned or unmanned, may also be deployed in the same area.
The sturdy dependability of the Matrice 210, with the additional flight safety features of the V2, make it an ideal choice for firefighting work. And the customizable payload options ensure that this machine can rise to the challenge, whatever the emergency.