For as much ink as AI-infused robots get in the press, fueled in part by Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking warning us of a future filled with “killer robots”, I think we need to start focusing on a far more worrisome piece of technology: Flame-throwing drones.
Recently, a power company based out of Xiangyang, China came up with the idea as a way to clear power lines of pesky debris, often in the form of plastic bags and other pieces of trash that somehow find landing spots in less than ideal locations. Their badass fire-oriented solution, like most great innovations of our time, seems obvious in hindsight.
While spraying power lines with fire might ostensibly seem like a dangerously foolish endeavor, it’s actually a lot safer than having workers climb up and try and remove hanging items themselves.
Before, maintenance workers would risk their lives to clean power lines, climbing upwards of 10 meters (32 feet) into the air while risking electrocution with each step. While the use of a flamethrower may require more frequent cable replacements, the metal power lines will not be harmed by the flames.
Now as to why the power company would even care about an errant bag resting atop of a power line, a single bag can have a discernible impact on electrical supply. The drones themselves, which weigh in at nearly 25 pounds a piece, are obviously not available for commercial purchase. Still, that won’t stop us from enjoying their majestic ability to dance above ground while incinerating hard-to-reach debris in poetically destructive fashion.