High-rise fires are a growing problem around the world. The height of fire rescue ladders and the reach of fire nozzles are usually less than 50 meters, and their operations are often limited to one side of a building. Furthermore, because high-rise buildings are often located in urban centers, traffic can significantly lengthen response times.
And so in July 2020, China-based maker of autonomous aerial vehicles (AAV) EHang launched a better alternative for dealing with high-rise building fires in the form of a large-payload intelligent firefighting drone. Based on its flagship product, this new firefighting version of EHang 216, “EHang 216F” is specially designed for high-rise firefighting.
With hundreds of thousands of high-rise buildings in China, the company believes the EHang 216F can become essential equipment for thousands of fire stations across China and eventually those around the world.
The EHang 216F has a maximum flight altitude of 600 meters (0.37 miles), and can carry up to 150 liters (around 40 gallons) of firefighting foams and 6 fire extinguisher bombs in a single trip. The drone uses a visible light zoom camera to quickly identify the location of fire; it then hovers precisely in position and uses a laser aiming device to fire (in succession) a window breaker, the fire extinguishing “bombs” and then a full-range spray of firefighting foam. Multiple 216Fs can be deployed to rapidly extinguish the fire.
“We are pleased to introduce the EHang 216F AAV aerial firefighting solution, which solves difficult challenges in high-rise firefighting,” EHang’s Founder, Chairman and CEO, Huazhi Hu said at the time of the announcement. “The high-rise fire use case highlights the practical application of our passenger-grade AAV platform to different smart city management needs.”
EHang 216Fs are expected to be deployed in urban fire stations to assist in firefighting within a 5km radius (around 3.1 miles). EHang’s autopilot and centralized management technologies enable a fleet of EHang 216Fs to be remotely dispatched for the first response even before the firefighters arrive. This significantly shortens response time and can reduce casualties.
The fully-equipped EHang 216F AAVs combined with the command-and-control system offers comprehensive services including investigation, firefighting, rescue and emergency management.
Accelerating urbanization and building density are increasing fire hazards and creating more difficulties in firefighting. According to a survey by China Fire Magazine, 233,000 fires were reported nationwide in 2019, among which 6,974 cases happened in high-rise buildings with a year-on-year growth of 10.6%.
The EHang 216F uses a visible light zoom camera to quickly identify the location of fire; it then hovers precisely in position and uses a laser aiming device to fire (in succession) a window breaker, the fire extinguishing "bombs" and then a full-range spray of firefighting foam. Multiple 216Fs can be deployed to rapidly extinguish the fire.
The EHang 216F is one of those solutions your municipality — presuming it is home to a few skyscrapers — better has at its disposal at the time of need. If the money is tight, perhaps you could partner with an insurance company and see if you could split the bill, making it more bearable for the budget. Such a proposal, which will also keep property safer in an event of a fire, could also win the person behind the initiative to procure these drones (or just one) some votes along the way. Or, at very least, help your career.
If your business serves municipalities that house a few skyscrapers, you may want to contact EHang and ask them to be a distributor of their products. Chances are they are still focused on China but would definitely like to see their gear reaching all corners of the world, allowing businesses like yours to make some money as a middleman. With these drones, you are not only selling technology but also safety for the valuable property and that comes with a premium.