FRED has three primary R&D works to combine.
1. Drone technology for heavy lift and stability in 70mph wildfire wind conditions.
2. Paranetting material and weave dimensions testing in wind-tunnels and in-situ.
3. Artificial Intelligence to target Tree Bombs that will generate wildfire embers storms. The AI will focus on translating thermal data, real-time wind data feeds for anticipation, real-time flight control. Swarming the drones to allow one flight operator (pilot) to fly many FREDs is seen.
We know this is technically feasible. Please see https://firenetting.com/brad for a youtube video showing FRED in action and animation.
Each R&D effort has talented team members that know the space and how to direct and find resources to achieve our goals. Our FRED Product will work with any drone capable of its lift requirements and hi-wind stability needs. Although we will work on custom drone models for our R&D we see deployment possible beyond our first drone efforts. The target of 20-minute flight time in a high-wind wildfire environment is our goal. The continual substitution and rotation of FRED is planned.
Paranetting design and material choices is key to our success and will use off-the-shelf and available technologies to be able to handle the high temperatures that a stream of wildfire embers generate. Kevlar thread seems a logical first choice, but many material options and configurations exist.
This R&D will lead to straightforward engineering to deploy and improve this product. The Epiphany Bubble must be explored to coalesce technologies of the envisioned FRED. But, to be clear, this is not an easy project. It is not simply making the wheel bigger to fit a larger vehicle.
Can a net capture embers? Yes.
Can a net fly? Yes
So, Brad, just build it. You don’t need science. Ok, now that you are back with me as the NSF reader. I need you to close your eyes after you visualize a hurricane on fire and our Fire Eating Dragon entering that maelstrom to specifically target an Ember Tree Bomb. Then imagine a Swarm of drones that are designed to be rotational.
Rotational? Yes, the next FRED drone must replace a “filled with burning embers” partner drone in-situ to continue to capture embers. The filled FRED will secure its bundle of embers and quash.
Pattern Swarm FRED to expand netting reach when forests explode into ember storms.
FRED needs this: AI, Thermal Imagery, Drone Power for high winds, material science to handle plasma like heat from hi-wind ember streams, remote piloting, incoming and outgoing sensor data streams like NASA fire satellite data, real-time wind maps and FRED in-situ sensor data.
The University of Oregon at Corvallis has invited FRED to test when they burn trees for wildfire ember research in May and October timeframes. The science of compression of the ember storm into “heated plasma streams” as forced by high-winds is fed by this type of real-world testing. Your funding will get to work immediately.
FRED can save the world.
Every year wildfires do enormous damage throughout the world. Some wildfires in recent years have killed dozens of people, burned hundreds and even thousands of homes and other structures, and inflicted billions of dollars in damage. Wildfires such as the 2017 Paradise fire in Northern California and the 2018 Woolsey fire in Southern California are regularly driven by strong dry winds. Wildfires driven by winds of 40 mph or stronger they are nearly impossible to stop, in part because burning embers particularly from trees can fly hundreds of yards, and sometimes even miles, allowing the fire to quickly hopscotch from one location to multiple new location creating new ignition points far away. Palm trees in particular have been identified as constituting "fire bombs" that shed burning large burning palm fronds from high in the air that often float for long distances before they finally land. Many climate experts predict that the losses of life and property due to wildfires will increase as average temperatures increase due to climate change. Accordingly there exists a need for improved methods of suppressing wildfires.
The present invention is of fire containment system that employs an airborne fire netting to capture flying embers, particularly from trees that constitute "fire bombs," as those embers begin flying, to prevent those embers from either travelling far or from hitting fresh fuel-containing ground before they land. By capturing and containing flying embers as those embers are launched, the invention is expected to significantly slow the spread of wildfire, thus aiding other firefighting efforts and buying valuable time for people in the path of the fire to evacuate and/or otherwise prepare for the fire. The netting may be carried and held aloft by one or more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) commonly referred to as drones.
Drones typically use battery power, and accordingly their ability to remain powered in flight is unaffected by smoke and fire which could choke a UAV or manned aircraft powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE). Battery-powered drones are now available that have lift capacities of nearly 2,000 lbs. Suppliers of battery operated, high lift capacity drones include Griff Aviation of Norway, www.griffaviation.com. The present invention leverages the ability of battery operated high lift capacity drones to rapidly carry fire nettings and deploy and hold them over hard to access, rugged terrain in wildfire environments.
Additionally, drones typically include video cameras to allow them to be remotely operated, as well as automatic "return to base" capability if communication with the base station controller gets interrupted. Preferably the drones of the present intention are also equipped with thermal sensing and imaging and the ability through artificial intelligence (AI), pattern recognition, or other programming to autonomously identify and target ember sources such as burning trees. Further, drones can be programmed to operate as a group, and/or to avoid each other while independently carrying out similar tasks. Drones operating in a group are sometimes referred to as swarm drones.
The fire netting is preferably of a strong, lightweight, fire resistant material such as Kevlar® or similar material. The mesh of the net is tight enough to contain dangerous flying embers, yet loose enough to allow wind to flow through sufficiently so that the fire netting can be carried and held in a strong wind by a drone. The material may be multi-layered interspersed netting in order to maximize its ability to catch and stop embers yet allow wind to flow through with a minimum of wind resistance.
In one embodiment the fire netting when deployed has the shape of a round parachute. It may be tethered to a single UAV by a single cord made of fire resistant material.
In another embodiment the fire netting has a generally square or rectangular shape, and is carried by two drones, one at each top corner. The bottom corners may be weighted for ballast, and/or carried by two additional drones. The four drones operating together carry the netting to a target location and cooperate together to hold the netting at an optimum shape and location to catch embers from the target ember source. The netting may be initially rolled into a roll, and then when the drones reach their target they unfurl the netting.
In another embodiment suitable for stationary operation the netting is held aloft by one or more lifting kites. Many different kite designs have been used as lifting kites. One type known as a "French Military Kite" or "Rescue Kite" is a triangular winged box kite similar to a classic box kite but having only three sides to the box instead of four, and having has dihedral wings added to one surface which increases its side to side stability. this type of kite and is favored by some due to its ability to lift payloads such as antennas in a wide variety of conditions.
The kites may be accurately positioned in the sky via one or more drones that are attached directly to, or otherwise tethered to, the kites. In this embodiment because the weight of the netting is borne by the kite(s) instead of the drones, the flying time of the drones is greatly increased.
The drones may carry a small supply of water or other fire suppressant material such as PhosCheck®, and may direct a spray of that material from the drones to embers that have been caught in the netting.
In another embodiment suitable for stationary operation the drones are tethered to the ground. When tethered, drones can be supplied with electrical power from the ground allowing them to stay aloft as long as needed. Tethered drones can also be supplied with water or other fire suppressant material such as PhosChek® from the ground via a tube or hose, and can direct a spray of that material onto the embers that have been caught by the netting. Alternatively, the drones may carry an onboard supply of wire or other fire suppressant liquid or material, and can spray the fire suppressant onto burning embers within the net.
A. Drones can be made to carry 2000lbs