DOFEC – Drone for Fire-Fighting
The DOFEC (Discharging Of Fire Extinguishing Capsules) project focuses on developing an autonomous drone capable of locating, tracking and extinguishing fires with minimal input from humans.
Disaster response is one of the most common use cases of drone technology. Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are designed to collect information from the disaster-struck area so the first responders can react in time. Trained pilots usually pilot these drones. However, a manual flight can often slow down the response or be ineffective in scenarios where the circumstances slow down the pilot. The UAV’s limited capabilities also make it ineffective to use these systems in real applications.
The DOFEC drone uses an autonomy engine to explore an area for fires and keep track of their locations. The drone is equipped with a launcher capable of firing fire-extinguishing capsules in flight.
The drone also has onboard cameras that can be used to locate people and collect other useful information about the disaster-struck area.
The Fire Extinguishing System
The onboard system
Since there can be multiple fires during the mission, the drone keeps track of the locations of these fires while exploring the area. Based on the mission requirement, the drone can extinguish fires in the desired order and at any time.
When trying to extinguish a fire, the drone approaches the fire location and positions itself in an optimal configuration to effectively discharge a capsule filled with a fire-extinguishing material.
The primary motivation is to extinguish fires accessible from outside a building to stop fire growth and provide the firefighters with increased and safer access to the area. The onboard cameras provide RGB and depth information, which can detect and locate humans, animals, and other objects inside the fire-struck area. Besides detecting fires, thermal cameras can also help detect people and animals not visible to normal RGB cameras. These cameras can be used for collecting information to make an effective strategy to extinguish the fire and save as many lives as possible.
Large DOFEC for Higher Payload
The large DOFEC drone can fire seven capsules in a single flight. The high capacity is advantageous in large industrial fires and saves both valuable lives and resources.
In the event of a fire in a large area, it is crucial to act quickly and extinguish as many fires as possible to prevent escalation. The small DOFEC drone with a single capsule is lightweight and is designed for quick response. However, the time lost in reloading capsules after each launch can lead to severe losses.