Firefighting has come a long way since the Romans established the first ever fire service, which operated by passing buckets along a line of men standing between the nearest water source and the burning building. Since then, a number of innovations – ranging from the iconic red truck to the fireman’s pole – have transformed the profession, and new innovations are constantly in the pipeline.
Among the most exciting of these is the Fireproof Aerial Robot System (FAROS), which has been developed by a research team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Designed specifically to help detect and combat fires in high-rise buildings, the drone can both fly and climb walls, using technology that was first developed for a previous model called the Climbing Aerial Robot System (CAROS).
The device also boasts a thermal-imaging camera in order to locate people trapped inside buildings, and a range of other image-processing technology that enables it to identify a fire’s point of origin.
As can be seen in the video below, FAROS is able to withstand extreme heat, enduring temperatures of up to 1,000°C (1,832°F) for over a minute without losing its functional capacity. This is thanks to a coating made of aramid fibers, which are also commonly used by the automotive, aerospace and military sectors to create heat-resistant surfaces.
Beneath this is a buffer layer of air, which is maintained at an optimum temperature by a thermoelectric cooling system, whereby an electric current is passed between two different materials. As it does so, a temperature increase is produced at one of the junctions where the two materials meet, with a corresponding decrease at the other junction – a phenomenon known as the Peltier effect.
Using all this equipment, the drone is able to access fires in skyscrapers, entering the burning building in order to conduct a search and transmit information back to firefighters on the ground, who can then decide on an appropriate course of action.
It is hoped that this will lead to improved response times from fire services tackling blazes that are not on the ground, with FAROS being the latest in a series of new technologies designed for this purpose. For instance, the government of Dubai recently announced plans to equip its firefighters with jetpacks so they can access fires in high-rise buildings and scope out the situation before deciding how to proceed.