Spanish company developing firefighting drones

Each drone would carry up to 160 U.S. gallons (600 L.) of water or fire retardant.

Drone Hopper envisions one drone or a fleet of them working together to suppress wildfires. Screengrab from Drone Hopper video below.

Drone Hopper, a Spanish startup, is developing drones that could be used for dropping water or fire retardant on wildfires. Their Wild Hopper model would carry up to 160 gallons (600 L.) which is almost double the capacity of a Bell 206 helicopter.

The company has designed several models. One of the earliest is seen in the photo at the top of this article. I can imagine that if someone saw one, or 15 to 20 of those saucer-shaped devices flying through the sky in formation, they might be thinking — UFO.

The video below, uploaded September 16, 2016, apparently shows the small early model.

This next video, uploaded November 17, 2018, features the later Wild Hopper model with a tall visible water tank presumably holding 160 gallons, according to information on the company’s website.

The rotorcraft’s electric motors are driven by batteries which also power a device to electronically convert the water to a mist through what the company calls a nebulization process. The downward thrust of the rotors drives the mist at high speed toward the ground. While a water mist could more evenly wet the vegetation, any significant wind or strong convection off the fire might blow the water off target.

The aircraft has a thermal camera which could make nighttime water drops more accurate.

One thought on “Spanish company developing firefighting drones”

  1. Videos look like CGI.

    The first “Fan in a can” model could not have flown. Impossible to restrict the intake of a ducted fan with the depicted cowling and have it produce much thrust. Later model may be feasible since the intake and exhaust are not restricted by cowling.

    Other design issue is the size/ weight of the battery pack required to provide the power to fly to a useful range or provide the necessary endurance. Good luck.

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