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Drone fights fires by dropping flaming balls

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The thought of a fire-starting robot would normally have us fleeing in terror, but we'll make an exception for this one. Researchers are developing a drone, the Unmanned Aerial System for Fire Fighting (UAS-FF), that helps contain and prevent fires by dropping ping pong-sized flaming balls. If you need to burn grass before it fuels an uncontrolled blaze, you just program the drone to drop its chemically-ignited cargo in a specific pattern -- you don't have to send in a costly aircraft or face the risks of starting fires on the ground. It'll be a while before you see UAS-FF in service, but it's already nice to see a drone that helps firefighting instead of getting in the way.

[Image credit: Craig Chandler/University Communications]

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