Smart Helicopter Buckets for Fire Fighting
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop an improved bucket design that will revolutionize the approach to fire suppression. Helicopters now use slung buckets to deliver water, retardants and foam to fire sites. The urgency of time (fire control lines must be established before the fire overruns them) and the need for expensive equipment (helicopters typically cost $20 million and rent for $5,000 per hour) demand that rapid -- and controllable -- technologies be used. Unfortunately, current bucket technology does not have any means to control the release of material delivered, except by varying the speed and height of the aircraft. With the smart bucket design proposed herein, the pilot simply selects the coverage level and volume of the material to be deposited. A system controller then opens the bucket valve on command and varies its position to provide uniform flow rate and deposition. More strategic use of the bucket contents will then occur. Instrument inputs for wind speed, ground speed, acceleration and release height will be used to adjust valve position to obtain the desired coverage level under the helicopter and downwind of its flight path. When installed, this system will reduce operational costs, increase pilot safety, and save millions of dollars in resources (life and property) by putting down reliable fire control lines and/or extinguish the fire more quickly.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Principal Investigator:Mr. Andrew E. Kaufman
Continuum Dynamics, Inc.
P.O. Box 3073 Princeton, NJ 08543
Number of Employees: