EHang Launches Autonomous Firefighter

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China-based EHang introduced a version of its EHang 216 autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) last week designed to operate as an aerial firefighting solution. The company says its 216F AAV is specifically targeted at high-rise firefighting, aiming to address issues such as the insufficient height of fire rescue ladders, reach of fire nozzles and potential for traffic in urban centers to slow response times. According to EHang, its autopilot and centralized management technologies will allow 216Fs to be remotely dispatched in advance of first responders.

“The high-rise fire use case highlights the practical application of our passenger-grade AAV platform to different smart city management needs,” said EHang founder and CEO Huazhi Hu. “The potential of our intelligent AAV technology platform is boundless. We will explore and develop more aerial solutions and use cases to empower smart cities.”

The 216F is capable of carrying up to 150 liters (40 gallons) of firefighting foam and launching six fire extinguisher “bombs” that are guided by a laser aiming device. It has a maximum operating altitude of 600 meters (1,968 feet). As previously reported by AVweb, EHang also conducted several aerial sightseeing trial flights using the EHang 216 AAV last month.

Video: EHang

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9 COMMENTS

  1. While an interesting concept, the practicality of the device is questionable. Ignoring the aerodynamics of the device, forty gallons of foam mixture is little more than an overgrown hand-held fire extingusher. So, it would be of extremely limited value unless it is responding to an incipient stage fire. At that point, most fires have not yet been reported. I’m not really sure what the extinguisher “bombs” would do except break the glass windows and provide access to the foam nozzle. It might actually work better to load it up with about 150 pounds of dry chemical powder, which would knock down the fire better and faster. It might not totally extinguish the fire, but it would allow time for ground fire crews to respond. The foam would have to be applied directly to the fire, but dry chemical could just be blasted into the room and the fog will find and suppress the fire.

    The device might find limited use in third-world countries where high rise living structures have much smaller apartments than one would find in American high rise condos. Plus, street access for fire trucks is more difficult due to crowding and narrow streets. As I said, interesting, but still needs some refinement.