Water may be sprayed at fires from the air by a new drone created in Portugal. In order to keep firefighters safe, it is intended for the drone to extinguish fires while they are still minor.
The Portuguese term for “ported nozzle system” is the abbreviation for this revolutionary firefighting drone, known as the SAP.
A fire-resistant hose that hangs down from the hull and two jets that shoot water down at the flames as the drone hovers in the air make up the porting system that gives the drone its name.
– Carlos Viegas, Co-Lead of the SAP Project at the Field Tech Lab of the University of Coimbra
The stainless steel nozzles on the SAP are placed on either side of the drone to aid in maintaining balance when in the air. Despite being heavier than aluminum, stainless steel is robust enough to withstand high pressure and heat.
The drone can shoot water without actually carrying any water because the line is linked to a fire engine. The drone’s stream can be continuous thanks to its design, eliminating the need for it to replenish its water supply.
WHY THE SAP WAS MADE
The usefulness of a drone like the SAP is obvious. Tools that let firefighters put out fires remotely instead of in person help keep them safe, and potentially put out fires more quickly.
This applies to fighting fires from the air, too. Pilots of crewed aircraft working in wildfire operations can fall victim to smoke inhalation, and drones like the SAP help prevent this kind of scenario as well.
Wildfires, however, were what created the urgent need for the SAP.
Because of the proximity of urban development to woods, Portugal is one of the nations in Europe that is most affected by wildfires.
117 people perished in two significant wildfires in Portugal in 2017. 66 people were killed and more than 130,000 acres were burnt in just one of those fires.
According to a survey published in 2018, the total area burned in Portugal per decade has doubled between the 1980s and the 2000s and was projected to increase by more than three times in the following years.
These results prompted academics at the University of Coimbra in Portugal to collaborate with two other private businesses and the Portuguese fire vehicle manufacturer Jacinto. The SAP drone, a prototype that can actually put out fires by blasting water gathered from a nearby, replenishable source, is the end product of four years of work.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THE SAP DRONE
The SAP is not the first drone created for the purpose of transporting water to combat fires.
However, other water-shooting or water-dumping drones designed for firefighting have flown over the fire and released water that was loaded with water from a nearby water source, such as a lake or reservoir.
This device makes it simple to fight wildfires in locations where it could be challenging to transport a truck full of water since it allows water to be transported from a greater distance. However, it needs a heavy lift drone that can move enough weight to have an impact on the conflict.
For instance, Singular Aircraft produces two Flyox drones, which resemble small airplanes more than they do drones. One model has a range of 260 miles, a two-hour flight time, and the amazing ability to carry 3,400 pounds of water. The other has a range of more than 500 miles, can carry 3,000 pounds of water, and can fly for 4.5 hours.
Contrasted to these water-carrying behemoths, the SAP is rather compact and agile.
The researchers who created the SAP claim it is simple to fly and is built of carbon fiber. The drone’s wingspan is seven feet, weight is 46 pounds, and flying time is 17 to 24 minutes. (The Flyox II weighs 8,800 pounds and has a 35-foot wingspan as a point of comparison.)