Watch an unmanned helicopter put out fires with help from a drone

Sponsored Links

Watch an unmanned helicopter put out fires with help from a drone

Fighting wildfires is sometimes a daunting prospect with manned aircraft; pilots can't always fly around the clock or cover every patch of land. They won't have to if Lockheed Martin's efforts pan out. It recently demonstrated a tweaked version of its unmanned K-MAX helicopter that can work in tandem with a quadrotor drone, Indago, to stamp out fires with relatively little human intervention. As you'll see in the clip below, Indago serves as a forward scout that marks any hotspots. After that, K-MAX swoops in with a bucket to douse the flames. It fetches more water on its own, too.

People do need to oversee some of the process, but the mostly hands-off approach still lets K-MAX extinguish blazes with the kind of efficiency you don't always get from regular aircraft -- in the demo, it dumped 24,000 pounds of water in an hour. It can also change roles if there's a need to drop off supplies or rescue survivors. Eventually, Lockheed hopes that this one-two robotic combo will take over from humans when they either aren't available to fight fires or would face too many risks.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Popular on Engadget