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The future of firefighting: Carnegie Mellon thinks helicopters could someday conduct searches inside burning buildings.

You pull up to a large high-rise residence in the middle of the night to find fire on two floors. Instead of immediately going into that inferno you open a compartment on the rig and suddenly scores of little robotic helicopters fly out and into the building. If they could talk, the would yell to the firefighters, "Don't worry we've got it". If a victim is found, the robotic choppers would direct the firefighters in for the save.

Pei Zhang, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University thinks that is a possibility for the future of these hovering drones equipped with radios, gyroscopes, and compasses. Zhang believes it's a way to make firefighting safer.

From what little I know about these things, I have no doubt there are some very functional uses for technology like this that could help in some search situations. While I have lots of questions (as I am sure you do), let me start with just two. Who will be forcing the doors throughout the building so these electronic heroes can do their work? How well do you expect these gizmos to hold up or fly under the high temperatures of a fire.

That said, they look some real fun things to play with. Do you think I could do a product review?

Comments - Add Yours

  • Shhh…

    Ummm… NO.
    I think the Assist. Professor needs to learn fire science and the dynamics of fighting a fire inside structures. While the idea is good there are many factors that need to be considered before something like this would work. For the time being, it would be just more debris to crawl over.

  • plastic_melts?

    Do the helicopters come with a black box that can Identify the last seconds before it entered the burning structure, melted from the heat, and laid motionless on the floor of the entry way prior to being trampled be a few companies of firemen? 
    plastics and electronics dont really work well in super heated enviroments… so I've been told

  • Dickey

    I agree. He has to make them be able to sustain very high temperatures and then design something a bit more heavy duty than just a cell phone for the information to come back to.
    Give him a chance…It might be the normal thing to do in a few years!

  • NFPA-10001 “Standard for Deployment of Toy Helicopters into a Burning Structure

    Who knows if it will ever work. At least someone is trying to do research on concepts that will save firefighters

  • DC Fireman

    Apparently he has not learned Fire Mathamatics.
    B+H2O= FO ——Balls+ Water = Fire Out
    H+OSF=WOT——Helicopters+ "Outstanding Fireman"= Waste of Time

  • Not gonna fly

    I doubt these would make it to far, ive had lap tops junked after the fans stopped working and it got to hot, think about a building fire, and what the guys are supposed to run around with the cell phones in their hands and follow and arrow? What if the path is blocked, i hope it recalculates a new route like my GPS does.

  • Andrew

    Sorry but I think yall are all missing the most important reason this is bad. If you send a little helicopter in and come across someone then you have lost moments and are already behind. If a search team enters and finds that person then they can get them out NOW and not have to wait for resources to enter the structure.

  • Molly

    This kind of thing is actually very useful and would have many apllications, but assisting firefighters in structure fire rescue is probably not one of them. Electronics can be built to survive extreme temps, like your TIC's and PASS devices, but then that is going to be a much bigger helicopter. I think they would have trouble finding victims in smoke conditions and as someone else said, opening doors or windows.
    But who knows what these boffins can come up with these days? We can now drive remote control cars on Mars….

  • Fireman Joe

    He reminds me of the Democratic far left, his idea seems like a great concept to him, the problem is it doesn't work in the real world.

  • SKD

    Slow down, folks, this is just research. The ideas, concepts, and technologies behind TICs and SCBA likely started in much the same way. They had to send a man into space to discover velcro.