Vector UAS assists in securing the demolition of an apartment block

Vector UAS assists in securing the demolition of an apartment block

On September 5th, 2021 the second “White Giant” was blown up in Duisburg/Germany. The Duisburg Fire Department was charged with the task of safely carrying out the blasting of the 23-story building itself. They had to take direct action on the effects of the blast (dust generation) and monitor the danger zone to prevent spectators from harm.

As one of the first authorities in Germany, the Duisburg Fire Brigade, relies on Quantum-Systems drones to gather relevant data for situational awareness.

Planned demolitions of inner-city buildings are a logistical feat

The “White Giant” weighs 50,000 tons, is 63 meters high and 90 meters long. More than 1,700 residents were affected by the evacuation and had to leave their houses and apartments.

Securing the danger zone on the day of the blast places an enormous logistical demand on the local authorities. In addition, the supply of the affected citizens who had to leave surrounding apartments for safety and the necessary countermeasures at the moment of the blast such as reducing dust development was part of their task list. 

The vector UAS equipped with a thermal camera was used

To ensure no people were in the evacuation zone, a Quantum-Systems Vector including HD40 gimbal payload was deployed. This way, live monitoring of the entire area of operation and efficient observation was made easy.

Auterion Ground Station Vector Use Case

Live-view of the demolition via the Auterion SkynavThe government-ready scalable controller for unmanned systems

What is the benefit of using a drone for aerial live monitoring during the day of the demolition?

The blasting itself had to be delayed for a few minutes because several residents were detected on the roof of an adjacent building close to the evacuation zone. Though in advance, the city had asked citizens not to make a “public viewing” out of the blast.

More than 200 spectators had gathered on-site, and were advised not to come because of the extensive barriers, the traffic situation, and the limited visibility of the blast object.

Jörg Helmrich / Fire Brigade Duisburg right before the launch of the Vector UAS

800 kilograms of explosives brought the building down

The manpower required for such a blast should not be underestimated. In addition to units of the Duisburg fire department, about 200 employees of municipal offices and police forces were deployed. Drones can be used flexibly and thus provide added value in order to save personnel or to gain more insight with less danger to all involved.

A payload with live video capabilities was used in this mission. Additional systems are being developed together with DLR as part of the LiveLage project since 2018.

The Duisburg Fire Department is part of the LiveLage project in cooperation with Quantum-Systems and DLR

Driven by requirements from emergency services, the desire arose to develop an optical system for fast, precise optical reconnaissance of large-scale damage and disaster situations that can be integrated into unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and provide this data in real-time. The LiveLage project was born:

The LiveLage Project in detail

The Security Research and Applications Department of the Institute of Optical Sensor Systems of the DLR is developing new technologies for the rapid reconnaissance of large-scale damage and disaster situations from the air. Current optical technologies are to be combined with the possibilities of new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) such as Vector and Scorpion to enable operational support for authorities and organizations with security tasks (BOS).

Training for the UAV Team of the Duisburg Fire Brigade on Vector & Scorpion UAS

The Duisburg fire brigade is taking on the role of being able to prove the system’s operational capability under real conditions.

Operations like the one in Duisburg create confidence among the emergency services and the public. It also demonstrates the added value of these investments in people and equipment.

Both are important steps toward large-scale approval for public safety operations.


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