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Image courtesy: Impossible Aerospace Corporation via YouTube
 

Like a good neighbor, Impossible Aerospace flew over to a nearby construction fire to help locate hotspots for first responders

What better time to conduct a product demonstration than when a neighboring building goes up in flames?

When a four-alarm fire started burning at a Santa Clara, California construction site down the street from Impossible Aerospace Corporation, the startup sent one of its US-1 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone equipped with thermal and optical sensors to help ground crews battle the blaze.

According to Impossible Aerospace, the US-1 delivered high-definition thermal video to ground crews, allowing them to easily identify hot spots to share with first responders. The aircraft was operated by Impossible Aerospace pilots as part of the company's Rapid Response program offered to neighboring agencies.

 

 

A testament to the endurance of modern small electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, the US-1 hovered on site for one hour and six minutes before the fire was extinguished, outlasting three news helicopters that also arrived on scene.

The US-1 delivers between 78 and 90 minutes of flight time when carrying payloads used by first responders. In other configurations, its flight time has exceeded two hours, says the company.

 

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“We designed the US-1 to deliver the performance of a helicopter at less than one percent of the price,” says Spencer Gore, CEO of Impossible Aerospace. “It's made for the 99.8% of municipalities that lack air assets. Some call it a drone, but it's no toy. The US-1 is a performance aircraft made to respond to real emergencies, and it's built by an American company.”

As the demand for domestically-sourced aerospace technology continues to rise, Impossible Aerospace is forging partnerships with local governments, police and fire departments, and private customers alike. The best-in-class US-1 has a longer battery life and is integrated with combined thermal and optical sensors built for critical missions.

 

 

“We were glad to hear there were no casualties. Santa Clara is our home. We are always here to help if we can,” says Gore.

Earlier this year, Impossible Aerospace made its first public appearance with the US-1 at a police standoff at a restaurant in Campbell, California. Equipped with similar thermal and optical sensors, the US-1 provided a persistent and accurate aerial view of the perimeter, roof, and exits of the building.

 

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According to the Campbell, California police and SWAT authorities, the US-1 provided a regular perimeter scan and more consistent video footage than the county’s helicopter. The US-1 confirmed the precision of the SWAT teams’ strategies – which included using tear gas to force the suspect out of hiding and later using police canine – so the authorities could react and plan their next steps. The US-1’s persistent view informed officers that an open kitchen vent was quickly leaking tear gas, which allowed the SWAT team to adjust their strategy and succeed in a peaceful arrest.

 

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.