The FireDrone can pass through a wall of flame and its housing allows its components to withstand temperatures of up to 200 degrees. To achieve this, the scientists who developed it were inspired by nature.
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Firefighters are now using drones to monitor the development of fires and many other rescue missions. What drones haven’t done yet is rush inside a burning building to help firefighters plan their response more efficiently and safely.
team of Scientists from’Imperial College London and the Swiss research institute Empa have developed a way to create an experimental drone capable of resisting fire. their prototype fire It can be held in the air, without flinching, while being subjected to a temperature of 200 degrees for about ten minutes.
In order for the aircraft to be able to withstand such high temperatures, the researchers drew inspiration from nature and more specifically from animals such as the penguin, arctic fox or beetle. They all have the ability to live in extreme temperatures. To protect them, nature has provided them with fur, layers of fat, or other layers of heat-regulating protection.
FireDrone in action. The drone managed to cross a wall of flames without incident. © Empa
A bio-inspired drone
To protect the core of the drone, they thought of a layer of aerogel, that is, an extremely light, gel-like substance, but whose liquid components are replaced by air. The encapsulated body of this antenna is made of polyimide plastic material. This is exactly what NASA uses to insulate astronauts’ suits. For added rigidity, the scientists also added silica and the assembly was reinforced with fiberglass.
This protective layer then thermally insulates the electronics. The outer aluminum “skin” also allows heat to be reflected. Protected electronics include the battery, flight controller, video transmitter, and radio receiver, as well as an optical camera, infrared camera, and carbon dioxide sensor.2. FireDrone has already been successfully tested at the Firefighter Training Center. With its protective layer, it may also be deployed in very cold weather, when the drones are naturally grounded.
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