Google sought FAA approval to test drones for firefighting

Firefighters working with a drone as they try to extinguish a fire in a warehouse in Badalona, near Barcelona. Google’s plans to test drones for firefighting have since been shelved. — AFP

Google asked the US Federal Aviation Administration for permission to test drones to research how the technology can help monitor and control fires, before abandoning the effort.

The Alphabet Inc company’s climate and energy research group said it planned to use the drone at a private property in Firebaugh, California, according to a filing with the FAA. Those plans have since fizzled.

“The FAA filing from Google Research’s Climate and Energy group is a petition submitted almost a year ago for a project we were considering exploring at the time,” a Google spokesman wrote in an email. “We have no immediate plans to re-engage on this work.”

The FAA has previously granted waivers to other organisations that sought permission for similar operations. The drone Google planned to use, weighing between 55 and 98.8 pounds (44.8 kg), was made by Homeland Surveillance & Electronics LLC and is mass-produced for agricultural applications. It holds 20 liters of liquid, or about five gallons. Loaded up, HSE says the drone can fly for eight to 15 minutes.

Alphabet’s drone moonshot, Wing, has mainly focused on autonomous drone delivery to increase access to goods, reduce traffic congestion in cities and help ease carbon emissions. The company said it began working on that technology in 2012. – Bloomberg

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