The Phoenix Fire Department recently drones added to its arsenal of firefighting and rescue equipment and selected based in the United States drone manufacturer Skydio to supply the unmanned aircraft systems.
As of July 15, the department had completed 94 flights totaling 14.4 hours in the air using three Skydio X2 drones equipped with thermal cameras. Phoenix Fire responded to 12 incidents including first alert fires, bushfires and mountain rescues.
The drones, which are equipped with Skydio Autonomy AI-driven autonomous flight software, will primarily be used when the department is fighting structure and bushfires and search and rescue.
The drones are capable of 360-degree obstacle avoidance, autonomous tracking, GPS-free navigation and full workflow automation and are designed with a rugged, foldable airframe, GPS-based night flight, strobe lights in visible and infrared wavelengths and a dual sensor payload with a 12MP color camera and a 320×256 FLIR thermal sensor. The cost of the drones starts at around $13,000 each, according to Skydio’s website.
The department phased in the drones to allow the team of nine FAA-certified pilots to gradually gain experience with the aircraft. In the coming days, the team will look to improve integration with the department’s fire and special operations division, as well as the FAA, Phoenix Sky Harbor and the Phoenix Police. The Fire Department Technical Services Division is working to improve video stream options to allow for better recognition.
“The Skydio drones’ autonomous flight capabilities will help our teams gain situational awareness from an aerial view, while being equipped with advanced safety features that protect both our community and firefighters, and enable our new pilots to fly with confidence,” said Phoenix Fire Chief Mike. said Durana.