A company called Throwflame, “the oldest flamethrower manufacturer in the U.S.”, is taking drone technology to the next level. A recent YouTube video showed the company's latest offering: a flame throwing drone that is damn cool. The Verge reported on the Throwflame TF-19 WASP - a fully functional flamethrower that can be attached to commercial grade drones. The TF-19 features a one-gallon fuel tank capable of producing a stream of fire for up to 100 seconds. Targets up to 25 feet away can be hit. With a weight of 5 pounds for the device only heavy lift drones can benefit from the WASP.
A flame throwing drone doesn't come cheap: the WASP apparatus will hit the market at a price of $1,499. That doesn't include the commercial grade drone for carrying the host of specialty equipment needed for operation. The video features a DJI S1000 drone (similar to this carbon framed one from Amazon) with an A2 flight controller (available on Amazon) for operation. Power is delivered by a 16,000mAh LiPo battery ($300-400) and a 5.8 GHZ TBS Tango R/C remote ($250) allows the user to control the drone. Total cost for this set up will run around $2,600.
Throwflame will offer turnkey drones at prices ranging from $1,000 to over $10,000 depending on the options and capabilities chosen. If you want to record the flame throwing fun, the latest GoPro Hero7 camera with micro SD card and 4k streaming will set you back even more.
Now the obvious question is what exactly do you need a flame throwing drone for? The company suggests a couple uses such as controlling wasp nests and “ground clearing, snow and ice removal, incinerating weeds and pesky insect hives, pyrotechnic events and movie props, firefighting and training, (and) grassland management.” Maintenance workers in the Chinese city of Xiangyang recently used a similar drone to remove a net that was caught in a power line, restoring function in only ten minutes.
Now the licensing and registration required for drone operators, as well as the price tag, will keep the TF-19 WASP out of the hands of neighborhood hooligans regardless of how wealthy their parents are. But the military or weaponization potential of the drone is obvious. Imagine being able to attack an enemy with just a swarm of flame throwing drones controlled from a distance - the causalities could be huge. Or imagine if a militant group like Antifa, with their willingness to engage in physical attacks and violence against those they oppose, were to purchase one and use it on a crowd? On the other side of things, how do we keep law enforcement from using a drone like this on the genral public?
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