High-rise fires are a growing problem around the world. The height of fire rescue ladders and the reach of fire nozzles are usually less than 50 meters, and their operations are often limited to one side of a building. Furthermore, because high-rise buildings are often located in urban centers, traffic can significantly lengthen response times. The intelligent aerial firefighting solution by EHang provides a better alternative for dealing with high-rise building fires.
The company demonstrated the new firefighting version of EHang 216, “EHang 216F”, which is specially designed for high-rise firefighting. The firefighting drone can carry up to 150 liters of firefighting foams and six fire extinguisher bombs in a single trip with the ability to fly within a radius of 5 km from the station. This payload should be enough to eliminate fire in one or more apartments, and, after all, drones can work in swarms.
The 216F uses a visible light zoom camera to quickly identify the location of the fire. It then hovers precisely in position and uses a laser aiming device to fire (in succession) a window breaker, the fire extinguishing “bombs,” and then a full-range spray of firefighting foam. Multiple 216Fs can be deployed to rapidly extinguish the fire.
Each firefighting drone is capable of flying up to an altitude of 600 meters, so it is an ideal platform to provide quick assistance to a burning skyscraper while waiting for the actual fire engine to arrive at its destination. The developers haven’t released the performance specs for this version. The passenger version can reach a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph) and has a maximum flight time of 21 minutes.
Until recently, the Chinese company EHang has focused on the production of multicopters, which are used as air taxis and for transporting tourists. With the fully-equipped EHang 216F AAVs and the command-and-control system, this solution offers comprehensive services including investigation, firefighting, rescue, and emergency management.
Currently, flying firefighters are being tested in Yunfu with the intention of expanding operations throughout China before reaching the rest of the world.