Fotokite Launches Tethered Drone System for Firefighters

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Tethered drone provider Fotokite is equipping firefighters to help save lives during crisis situations.

The Zurich-based company is partnering with firefighting-apparel firm Pierce Manufacturing to launch a UAV system that can be integrated with public-safety vehicles as well as other firefighting equipment.

Aptly named the Pierce Situational Awareness Systems by Fotokite, the system can deploy “persistent aerial situational awareness with the single push of a button, no piloting necessary,” according to a Fotokite statement.

The company also states the system is “the only UAS authorized by the FAA to be used by all public safety teams without requiring pilot licenses or individual authorizations to fly.”

Several firefighting agencies have already used the system in operations such as live-fire response, search-and-rescue missions and structure collapse inspection.

A company spokesperson notes:

“Pierce Fotokites uniquely deliver automatic and reliable hands-off launching, flight, and landing from a small vehicle-integrated enclosure while also providing 24+ hour continuous flight endurance and secure data delivery via tether, rather than wireless data transmission dependency. Thermal and visual video are streamed directly to first responder laptops, tablets, and even remote command centers to gain instant situational awareness capabilities. The lightweight, heavy-duty flight frame is designed for robust long-term operation in demanding environments and is IP55 rated to fly in rain, snow, and windy conditions.”

A subsidiary of Oshkosh, Pierce’s other products include custom and commercial pumpers, aerials, rescue trucks, wildland trucks, mini-pumpers, elliptical tankers, and homeland security apparatus. In addition, Pierce designs its own foam systems and was the first company to introduce frontal airbags and the Side Roll Protection system to fire apparatus.

As reported at DroneLife, Fotokite in 2016 “launched a tethered camera drone, the Fotokite Phi. Like plenty of other consumer drones, the Phi is designed to carry a GoPro camera. But there the similarities end. This is a drone on a string. It’s tethered, just like a kite, and ticks plenty of boxes for new flyers.”



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