This flying dragon robot is a firefighter to fight dangerous fires

Looking like something out of an anime movie, this is the firefighting kite designed by Japanese researchers that is revolutionizing firefighting

Imagine a flying dragon that does not breathe fire, but rather extinguishes it with powerful jets of water. Japanese researchers have developed this innovative robot called the Dragon Firefighter, which could soon be integrated into firefighting teams around the world to fight fires too dangerous for humans. The design, published in Frontiers in Robotics and AI, is available as open science and allows roboticists around the world to build their own “Dragon Firefighters” for the benefit of all.

The research team in Professor Satoshi Tadokoro’s lab at Tohoku University began working on similar flying robots in 2016. Since then, 11 researchers and students have contributed to its development, working closely with Japanese firefighters to better understand their needs.​

The “Dragon Firefighter” is propelled into the air by eight controllable jets of water emanating from its center and head and flies two meters above the ground. The hose can change shape and be directed towards the flames. It is controlled by a control unit on a wheeled cart behind it, which is connected to a fire engine with a 14,000 liter water tank. The nozzles expel water at a rate of 6.6 liters per second and a pressure of up to one megapascal. The tip of the hose is equipped with conventional cameras and thermal imaging cameras to locate the fire.

This robot had its first demonstration at the opening ceremony of the World Robot Summit 2020 in Fukushima in September 2021, where it successfully extinguished a celebratory flame four meters away. Since then, improvements have been made, such as improved waterproofing, a jet assembly that can handle a wider range of net forces, and an improved mechanism for channeling water flow. However, further developments are planned for the future.

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The goal is to have it ready for use in real firefighting situations in about ten years. The biggest challenge will be to extend its range to over 10 meters and develop effective firefighting tactics adapted to this robot’s unique capabilities.

REFERENCES

Development of a remotely controllable, 4 m long hose fire extinguishing robot.

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