Professional or Industrial drones have been making considerable strides in the past decade, allowing cheap and easy inspections of various critical infrastructures. We’ve even seen huge ones carrying construction materials to remote construction sites challenging to access by truck.
This flame-thrower drone is something else: in 2017 CCTV reported that after a 12-meter-long nylon net got stuck on a powerline, the drone was dispatched to incinerate the unwanted net.
I’m not sure why the net posed a safety issue, but it might have allowed stuff to aggregate on it, perhaps something that could eventually cause a very dangerous short-circuit.
It is said that the drone requires two operators: a pilot and a flame-thrower controller. Netizens were quick to comment about how this kind of drone technology could be a prelude to a Terminator-like “rise of the machines,” while others were joking about the executive decision process that led to attaching a flame thrower onto a commercial drone.
In any case, the drone made it much easier, faster, and less dangerous when compared to the option of sending a human up there to perhaps cut and remove the net from the powerline.
In 2019, the $1500 TF-19 flamethrower was introduced commercially by a company called Throwflame that can can shoot a 25-foot flame for 100 seconds. Not surprisingly, the FAA banned “drone with a dangerous weapon attached” shortly after.
Since then, such drones have been used in China to burn wasp nests perched high in trees (2020), and who knows what else they’ll be used for in the future.
Japan has a less dangerous solution, with a “vacuum drone” which sucks in the dangerous wasps, instead of burning them. While less spectacular and potentially more time-consuming, it sure seems safer.