Researchers Create ‘Flying Dragon’ Robot to Fight Fires

The robot was first demonstrated at the opening ceremony of the World Robot Summit 2020, held in September 2021 in Fukushima

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

January 16, 2024

2 Min Read
The 'flying dragon' robot in action
Tadokoro Laboratory, Tohoku University, Japan

A team of researchers from Japan have developed a “flying” robot that spouts water, with the potential to join firefighting teams around the world. 

The remotely controlled “Dragon Firefighter” robot is just over 13 feet long and is propelled upwards by eight controllable jets of water to hover 6 feet above the ground. The flexible design allows users to change its orientation depending on the placement of the fire.

Yuichi Ambe, one of the researchers, said the flying firehose robot is engineered to “safely and efficiently extinguish fires in buildings by directly approaching the fire sources.”

The robot is connected to a fire truck with a water capacity of just over 3,600 gallons.

“The nozzles spout water at a rate of 1.7 gallons per second with a pressure of up to one megapascal,” the team said in a statement. “The hose’s tip contains a conventional and thermal imaging camera, which helps to find the location of the fire.”

The design was first demonstrated in 2021 at the opening ceremony of the World Robot Summit 2020, held in September in Fukushima. At the event, the Dragon Firefighter extinguished the ceremonial flame, which itself consisted of fireballs lit by another robot.

Now, the blueprint of the model has been published as Open Science, allowing roboticists from around the world to make use of the designs and build their own Dragon Firefighters.

Related:Spot the Firefighter: New York City's Fire Department to Use Boston Dynamics Robots

Since the opening ceremony, the team said they have worked to improve the design and “learned many things.” 

“For example, we found that the original passive dampening mechanism which counters oscillations of the Dragon Firefighter’s body was impractical: it took too long to prepare for flight,” said  Yu Yamauchi, another of the researchers. “We also found that heat from fires can cause detrimental plastic deformation in outdoor applications of the corrugated tube that holds the water hose and electric cables.”

Other improvements include better waterproofing, a nozzle capable of handling a wider range of forces, and an improved mechanism for channeling water flow. The robot is not yet ready for commercialization though, with researchers planning future updates to the design.

“We estimate that it will take approximately 10 more years to deploy our robot in real-world firefighting scenarios,” said Ambe. “The primary challenge will be to extend its reach beyond 32 feet. Developing effective firefighting tactics tailored to this robot's unique capabilities will likewise be a critical aspect of further development.”

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About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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