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Drones to Assist First Responders in China, with a Focus on High-Rises

Chinese scientists and engineers are designing drones to help firefighters rescue trapped people, especially in high-rise building fires. Developed by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, the drones can quickly fly into a building via doors or windows, search for trapped people and plan rescue routes.

When a fire occurs in a high-rise building, firefighters often have to walk up stairs and their sight is affected by heavy smoke, making it hard to plan a rescue route. The drones can be flown into the fire location to access the situation before firefighters arrive. They can also provide much quicker access in tall buildings. For a towerblock of around 500 meters, it would take about half an hour for firefighters to climb the stairs to the top floor, but the drones can be there in two minutes.

The drones can avoid obstacles, draw a three-dimensional map indicating the distribution of obstacles, and plan a barrier-free rescue route. They are also equipped with cameras and pictures can be transmitted back to the ground in real time, which help firefighters locate trapped people. The exterior of the drone is made of a composite material commonly used on rockets, allowing it to withstand a high-temperature environment of 200 degrees.

China has a huge demand for the drones and they are expected to be put into use by the end of this year.

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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