Is a Drone Flamethrower Such a Good Idea?

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This week, Ohio-based flamethrower specialist Throwflame is launching a flamethrower that can be attached to a commercial drone. The TF-19 Wasp can shoot fire 25ft and, with its 1-gallon fuel capacity, offers 100 seconds of fire between refills.

The TF-19 Wasp is being marketed as useful tool for anyone who wants to reduce beehives to ashes, clean high-voltage wires or carry out remote agricultural burns.

Read more: That Flamethrower Drone Might Actually Be Useful

In the video above, the TF-19 Wasp is attached to a DJI S1000, flown with an A2 flight controller and a TBS Tango R/C remote. It costs $1,499; you’ll have to provide your own drone.

The flamethrower attachment is designed for platforms with a payload capacity of 5lbs (2.2kg) or more.

And, as you must surely be wondering by now, it seems to be totally legal. Flamethrower drones are not considered weapons under federal law, according to Throwflame. Although users are still required to comply with the FAA’s UAS rules in addition to local regulations.

Throwflame's drone flamethrower.

Throwflame’s drone flamethrower.

What could possibly go wrong?

Throwflame’s products are used for all kinds of tasks, including agricultural burns, pest removal, firefighting and training, grassland management and even as movie props. Many are also purchased for the sheer novelty value.

But there are two concerns with the step into drone accessories. First and most obvious is the thought of this getting into the wrong hands. It’s not something you can necessarily legislate for and not something you can definitely prevent with regulations. But the ease with which anyone can get hold of a drone capable of causing significant damage to people and property is something the industry will have to face at some point.

The second concern is the uncertainty added into the equation now that a drone is involved. A flying, remote-controlled flamethrower comes with significantly more risk than a flamethrower on the ground. The room for human error is increased, the potential for mechanical failure is introduced and the potential damage caused by any accident rises too.

Here’s hoping the team at Throwflame are working on a flying fire extinguisher as part of the package.



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