Rainpiper is an autonomous drone swarm that fights forest fires. When Rainpiper is called out on a mission, one or more Rainpiper platforms transport the folded drones to the base of operations. Each platform can transport up to forty drones. From the platform, the drones can successively take off and fly the last kilometres to the active fire front. Each hydrogen-powered drone has a flight time of up to eight minutes. After spraying their extinguishing agent over the forest fire, the drone returns to the platform for refilling. Within one minute, the extinguishing agent and hydrogen tanks are filled and the drone can take off for the next flight. This cycle repeats for all drones until the fire is extinguished or the mission goal is achieved. This ensures a continuous flow of water around the clock, even in poor visibility and bad weather.
I came across the scientific paper "Drone Swarms in fire Suppression Activities: A Conceptual Framework" by three scientists from the University of Genoa, Italy. In their paper, they develop a logistical concept for transporting the UAVs and define the number of UAV payloads. In the main part they calculate the length of the fire front that can be extinguished with the swarm of UAVs under different conditions. In a scenario typical for the Mediterranean region, approximately 70–75 linear meters of active front can be extinguished with 120 drones each carrying 20 L. They conclude that a platform managing up to 120 drones is a valid alternative to current fire fighting systems in the case of small or low-intensity fires. The configuration of the UAVs remains very vague, which leaves a lot of creative freeway in the design of the UAVs. The proposed transport and flight concept is also a theoretical assumption, which leaves room for further development. A comparative search revealed that there have been few well-founded further developments, both scientific and practical, towards a forest fire fighting UAV swarm. In combination with the climatic topicality of this subject, it seemed like a suitable topic for my master's thesis.