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Flamethrower-Drones Clear Powerlines in China

A series of images have emerged showing fiery new technology on display.

Power lines, like any other structure, are prone to collecting a bit of debris now and then. Everything from branches to bird poop will find its way onto the power lines, and eventually, it needs to be cleaned up. Usually, this is done manually, but a power company in Xiangyang, China, have found a novel and exciting new way of doing it.

The company has developed a drone with an on board flame thrower which can quickly zip up to the power lines and burn debris, like plastic bags, off. It may seem like a dangerous approach to tidying up, but it’s actually comparatively safe. Power line workers are consistently ranked among those with the most dangerous professions because they work high up, and close to dangerous currents. Cleaning debris off of power lines usually involves humans hanging 10 meters off the ground while hoping they don’t make a mistake that ends up electrocuting them. The go-to method for such workers is basically to take a big stick and try to push the debris off.


The drone approach won’t put any humans at risk, and since power lines are made from metal, and won’t be directly damaged by a quick burst of flame (though it will degrade the cables quicker, prompting more frequent replacements). The drones seem to be a DJI model S1000+, a heavy-duty multi-rotor drone capable of carrying up to 11 kg, perfect for air-lifting a small flame-thrower. This isn’t the first time a drone has been tasked with starting fires. In 2015, Nebraska-Lincoln University created a drone which was used to start controlled burns to clear a field. Meanwhile, also in 2015, MIT partnered with Olin College to create drones to help fight fires instead. The drones would venture into wild fires where it was too dangerous for humans to go, and capture aerial photos that could help firefighters plan how to control the blaze.

source: Sputnik News

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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