A flying saucer that fights fire

Fighting forest fires can be a huge challenge, as they're often in remote areas, hard to reach. One inventor thinks a flying saucer might be the answer - using sound waves to quell the flames.

Despite the conspiracy theories, the first time we actually encounter a hovering disc in the sky equipped with advanced technology, it might be here to save us, not to enslave us.

The Firesound is a firefighting flying saucer. The bright yellow, meter wide, autonomous disc is designed to patrol parks and forests, constantly looking for danger using smoke sensors and thermal cameras.

Unlike UFOs from 50s B-movies, however, it won't shoot out the kind of laser beams that might spark a forest fire, the Firesound will blast low frequency sound waves to extinguish small fires before they can spread.

Around 90 per cent of wildfires in the US are started by humans, some as deliberate acts of arson but most unintentionally.

Throwing away a still-glowing cigarette or leaving a cooking fire to burn unattended can have disastrous consequences in a dry forest.

"In national parks around the world, we have people who start campfires and then leave in the morning without putting out the fire properly," says designer Charles Bombardier.

"These drones could be used by park officials to inspect each site and make sure that all the campfires have been extinguished."

Firesound is a concept. Although most of the technology needed to build it does exist, nobody has combined it into a super-saucer… yet.

Bombardier's proposed saucer is an electric drone, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Four fans placed around the edge of the disc provide propulsion.

Air intakes at the front and back, and exhausts underneath, are used for thrust and changing direction.

He is not the only person looking at drones as potential firefighting tools.

As their price falls, fire departments around the world are looking at them as an "eye in the sky".

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