The faster you can pour water on a forest fire, the faster you can put it out. And this prototype aerial water-bucket system from Spanish designers Inventec sucks up water three times faster than existing systems.
Most of these existing systems are little more than over-sized pails slung beneath a helicopter's fuselage and have to be dragged across a body of water to fill them up, usually at a rate of around 4000 litres a minute. The Inventec prototype, however, incorporates a powerful vacuum at the tank's base to help that process along. Without even fully submerging the tank, it can reportedly hoover up to 12,000 litres per minute. What's more, it can do so from bodies of water less than a foot deep.
Once the filled tank is in position over the fire, crews can simply dump its contents as they would with a conventional system or they can untether the tank and leave it for ground crews to use as a portable fire hydrant -- either spraying water from it directly or using the pressurised canister to refill their own personal spraying packs. It can even be used as an emergency potable water supply at natural disaster sites. The Inventec system has not yet entered production but is expected to make quite the splash once it does. [Inventec via Gizmag]