Air tankers have been used to fight fires for a number of years now but they are still limited by human pilots. Nevada-based Drone America and Georgia-based Thrush Aircraft have teamed up to build a fleet of autonomous air tankers that would have a huge potential in the firefighting industry.
The recent forest fires in Californa have made the people realize the risks of the changing climate and they want to be prepared now. Drone America specializes in design and manufacture of UAVs. Thrush America manufactures a variety of firefighting aircraft. The partnership of the two aims to produce autonomous air tankers that can operate tirelessly at all hours of the day or night.
The end goal is to produce an aircraft that can be driven without a human pilot and has the ability to deliver 3,000 liters of water or fire retardant to the heart of the fire. It will also be providing real-time data to the ground-based crew that will be monitoring its progress and flight.
“Joining in the fight to better control wildfires from the air is in perfect alignment with our recent introduction of the 510G Switchback and its advanced manned-aircraft firefighting capabilities,” says Payne Hughs, president and CEO of Thrush Aircraft. “Collaborating with Drone America now gives us the ability to enhance airborne firefighting even more, by applying our design, manufacturing and flight test capabilities to a whole new generation of autonomous aircraft that can do things manned aircraft simply can’t do safely, or as efficiently.”
firefighting is their first priority. But, if this venture is a success, the two companies will continue working on aircrafts to deliver other payloads in disaster relief missions. There is no timeline given for when we can expect the vehicle in action but hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later.