Recent devastating wildfires in California – with negative economic impact (and 
death toll) about half of Hurricanes Harvey– brings to mind a near-term 
suggestion that could have been implemented already.

This would be the self-driving fire truck and/or the robotic water cannon. 

Actually even a small format like the size of an ATV is amenable to this 
implementation – bringing a few hundred gallons of fire retardant to a site 
ASAP without the need human supervision (and delay).

The main point to keep in mind in this suggestion is that satellites can spot a 
wildfire within seconds of its starting and any fire is exponentially easier to 
contain, the sooner first responders arrive at the scene. By having many robots 
spread over a large area, response time is further slashed.

Fire crews are of course optimized for quick response – but even so a 10-20 
minutes delay is inevitable  especially at night, and valuable time could be 
saved if a fleet of driverless water tankers were widely deployed in high risk 

As soon as a satellite picks up a possible wildfire – within seconds, not 
minutes – a first response vehicle is headed to the coordinates of the active 
site and in many cases fire retardant can be sprayed before the area gets out 
of control.

I suspect that Google and Waymo (not Uber) are fully aware of this prime 
application already – but guess what - the Chinese are taking orders… If the US 
is lagging, let’s put a fire under their butt to get prototypes out in the 
field this year! since now is the time to get government involved and the fire 
season is far from over. 

Plus, the future of self-driving cars can derive PR benefits from an early 
successful implementation. (do not use the phrase “killer app”)

Here is the Chinese version – made primarily for crowd control, it is said – 
but I suppose that is the easiest way to get the basic idea approved by Congress

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