EHang Holdings Limited of Guangzhou, China, launched what it describes as the world’s first large-payload aerial firefighting solution. Based on its flagship EHang 216 autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) platform, the new firefighting variant of the aircraft, denoted as 216F, is specifically designed for fighting high-rise building fires.
The company projects the 216F will become essential equipment for thousands of fire stations across China, with plans to distribute the technology worldwide.
With a maximum flight altitude of 600 metres, the 216F can carry up to 150 liters of firefighting foams and six fire extinguisher bombs in a single trip. The aircraft uses a visible light zoom camera to identify the location of fire; it then hovers 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. EHang notes multiple 216Fs can be deployed to rapidly extinguish the fire.
“The high-rise fire use case highlights the practical application of our passenger-grade AAV platform to different smart city management needs,” said Huazhi Hu, founder, chairman and CEO, EHang. “The potential of our intelligent AAV technology platform is boundless. We will explore and develop more aerial solutions and use cases to empower smart cities.”
EHang explains its 216Fs are expected to be deployed in urban fire stations to assist in firefighting within a 5 km radius. EHang’s autopilot and centralized management technologies enable a fleet of EHang 216Fs to be remotely dispatched for first response, potentially before firefighters arrive.
EHang notes the height of most fire rescue ladders and the reach of fire nozzles are usually less than 50 metres; and that their operations are often limited to one side of a building. The company also points to how traffic in urban centres can significantly lengthen response times, while accelerating urbanization and building density are increasing fire hazards and creating more difficulties in firefighting.
China Fire Magazine reported 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 per cent.
“Firefighting and rescue is a race against death. By taking advantage of the rapid response and centralized management of the EHang AAV platform, we can greatly improve the effectiveness of our efforts,” said by Weiqiang Chen, head of a fire station in Yunfu, China. “EHang’s intelligent aerial firefighting solution can effectively solve difficult problems in fighting high-rise fires. This complements existing firefighting systems and will improve society’s ability to respond to emergencies.”