Google looks to test firefighting drones, asks the FAA

Google firefighting drones FAA

According to a recently filed FAA exemption document, Google’s research climate and energy group are looking to test firefighting and monitoring drones. Google Research plans to test out the HSE-UAV M8A Pro spraying drone focused on the agriculture industry.

The document made public gives us the location the drone will be tested at, the drone being used, and what exactly the drone will be doing. You can see that in the below description.

Google Research Climate and Energy Group (Google Research) seeks relief to operate the HSE-UAV M8A Pro unmanned aircraft system, weighing over 55 pounds (lbs.) but no more than 98.8 lbs., for testing fire-fighting and monitoring operations with first person view technology located at a confined private property in Firebaugh, California.

The drone being tested is the HSE-UAV M8A Pro, a 20-liter spraying drone designed to spray crops rather than fires. The fully autonomous drone uses a carbon fiber frame and has six sprayers extended on an arm that comes out of each side of the drone. As the nozzles are designed to spray a fine mist on crops, they have likely been switched out for something better suited to firefighting. This could also mean a larger tank has also be fitted to the drone.

It’s not exactly clear why Google is testing out a drone in this way, but a theory is that Google has a large campus with lots of things that could burn in a fire. What better way to put out a fire than to use a team of drones? They can respond faster than a standard firefighting team and be located throughout the campus like fire hydrants usually are. This would essentially create a network of firefighters throughout its campus.

Google’s drone company

It’s not Google’s first time exploring drone use cases. It actually owns a previous Google X project now called Wing Aviation. Established in 2012, then-named Google Wing is the Mountain View-based tech giant’s entry into the world of drone deliveries. Wing Aviation started off tackling a problem, sending defibrillators by drone to heart attack victims. The Wing Aviation team soon realized drone delivery technology first needed to gain a big upgrade and approval from the world.

Wing Aviation is actively pursuing drone deliveries in Australia and Finland. Opposite ends of the world with totally different weather conditions, making both locations the perfect testing grounds for drone deliveries. Wing Aviation has a testing facility in Northern California and runs operations out of Virginia.

In Australia, Wing Aviation has been working with residents for a few years to develop a viable and effective way to deliver packages. Wing Aviation has chosen to test in Canberra, Australia. The company also moved into Helsinki, Finland, in the spring of this year, taking on the harsh cold weather and creating a perfect testing ground for Wing Aviation’s delivery drones.

Photo: Google and HSE-UAV


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