There was a time in our not-too-distant past when the idea of a personally piloted object that spits fire would seem totally batshit insane — in fact, it still seems batshit insane. But makeshift flame-throwing drones have been around for a minute, and now, you can purchase one of your very own.
Capitalising on this unique opportunity to bring fire-breathing machines to our skies is Throwflame, whose TF-19 WASP drone flamethrower attachment can allegedly spray fire up to 25 feet for over a minute and a half on a gallon of fuel. And if you are wondering why the hell anyone would want such a contraption — beyond sheer novelty, of course — the short answer is functionality.
Fire-shooting drones, it turns out, are a good stand-in for risky jobs like clearing powerlines of trash and controlled forest management and agriculture burns. They can even be used for pest elimination, as evidenced by a bananas promotional clip of the hell drone clearing a nest. The company claims other functions include pyrotechnics and movie props, citing uses in films like The Punisher and The Purge (which seems about right).
Quinn Whitehead, Throwflame’s founder, tells Gizmodo by phone that people will likely purchase the $US1499 ($2138) attachment for the same reason they purchase any of the company’s other products. About half of its customers pick up Throwflame goods for recreational purposes, Whitehead says, while the other half use them for agricultural work or lighting stuff where access is limited by foot or vehicle.
“It’s definitely a unique concept,” Whitehead says. “But any new technology is a little bit scary at first. You think back to when drones first got commercialised and popularised — they were cheap enough for the average person to buy — there was a lot of concern about privacy issues and people flying them all over the place, and swarms of drones blocking out the Sun. But in hindsight, it’s kind of an overreaction I think.”
He does have a point there. Given how long both flame-throwers and drones have been around, it seems unlikely we’ll see an inordinate number of flame-spitting robots taking to the clouds. Plus, if it helps you sleep better, users are still bound to the FAA’s drone rules and local ordinances.
The TF-19 WASP drone attachment goes on sale Friday, if you really want to set fire to something.