WO2013102213A1 - Fire fighting systems and methods - Google Patents

Fire fighting systems and methods Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2013102213A1
WO2013102213A1 PCT/US2012/072318 US2012072318W WO2013102213A1 WO 2013102213 A1 WO2013102213 A1 WO 2013102213A1 US 2012072318 W US2012072318 W US 2012072318W WO 2013102213 A1 WO2013102213 A1 WO 2013102213A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
launch
projectile
fire
computing devices
projectiles
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2012/072318
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Robert J. Gold
Original Assignee
Chandler Partners International, Ltd.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US201161581973P priority Critical
Priority to US61/581,973 priority
Application filed by Chandler Partners International, Ltd. filed Critical Chandler Partners International, Ltd.
Publication of WO2013102213A1 publication Critical patent/WO2013102213A1/en

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B64AIRCRAFT; AVIATION; COSMONAUTICS
    • B64DEQUIPMENT FOR FITTING IN OR TO AIRCRAFT; FLYING SUITS; PARACHUTES; ARRANGEMENTS OR MOUNTING OF POWER PLANTS OR PROPULSION TRANSMISSIONS IN AIRCRAFT
    • B64D1/00Dropping, ejecting, releasing, or receiving articles, liquids, or the like, in flight
    • B64D1/16Dropping or releasing powdered, liquid, or gaseous matter, e.g. for fire-fighting
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A62LIFE-SAVING; FIRE-FIGHTING
    • A62CFIRE-FIGHTING
    • A62C19/00Hand fire-extinguishers in which the extinguishing substance is expelled by an explosion; Exploding containers thrown into the fire
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A62LIFE-SAVING; FIRE-FIGHTING
    • A62CFIRE-FIGHTING
    • A62C27/00Fire-fighting land vehicles
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A62LIFE-SAVING; FIRE-FIGHTING
    • A62CFIRE-FIGHTING
    • A62C31/00Delivery of fire-extinguishing material
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41AFUNCTIONAL FEATURES OR DETAILS COMMON TO BOTH SMALLARMS AND ORDNANCE, e.g. CANNONS; MOUNTINGS FOR SMALLARMS OR ORDNANCE
    • F41A23/00Gun mountings, e.g. on vehicles; Disposition of guns on vehicles
    • F41A23/24Turret gun mountings
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41AFUNCTIONAL FEATURES OR DETAILS COMMON TO BOTH SMALLARMS AND ORDNANCE, e.g. CANNONS; MOUNTINGS FOR SMALLARMS OR ORDNANCE
    • F41A27/00Gun mountings permitting traversing or elevating movement, e.g. gun carriages
    • F41A27/28Electrically-operated systems
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41AFUNCTIONAL FEATURES OR DETAILS COMMON TO BOTH SMALLARMS AND ORDNANCE, e.g. CANNONS; MOUNTINGS FOR SMALLARMS OR ORDNANCE
    • F41A9/00Feeding or loading of ammunition; Magazines; Guiding means for the extracting of cartridges
    • F41A9/35Feeding multibarrel guns
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41AFUNCTIONAL FEATURES OR DETAILS COMMON TO BOTH SMALLARMS AND ORDNANCE, e.g. CANNONS; MOUNTINGS FOR SMALLARMS OR ORDNANCE
    • F41A9/00Feeding or loading of ammunition; Magazines; Guiding means for the extracting of cartridges
    • F41A9/38Loading arrangements, i.e. for bringing the ammunition into the firing position
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41BWEAPONS FOR PROJECTING MISSILES WITHOUT USE OF EXPLOSIVE OR COMBUSTIBLE PROPELLANT CHARGE; WEAPONS NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F41B11/00Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns
    • F41B11/50Magazines for compressed-gas guns; Arrangements for feeding or loading projectiles from magazines
    • F41B11/55Magazines for compressed-gas guns; Arrangements for feeding or loading projectiles from magazines the projectiles being stored in stacked order in a removable box magazine, rack or tubular magazine
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B12/00Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material
    • F42B12/02Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect
    • F42B12/36Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect for dispensing materials; for producing chemical or physical reaction; for signalling ; for transmitting information
    • F42B12/367Projectiles fragmenting upon impact without the use of explosives, the fragments creating a wounding or lethal effect
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B12/00Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material
    • F42B12/02Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect
    • F42B12/36Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect for dispensing materials; for producing chemical or physical reaction; for signalling ; for transmitting information
    • F42B12/46Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect for dispensing materials; for producing chemical or physical reaction; for signalling ; for transmitting information for dispensing gases, vapours, powders or chemically-reactive substances
    • F42B12/50Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect for dispensing materials; for producing chemical or physical reaction; for signalling ; for transmitting information for dispensing gases, vapours, powders or chemically-reactive substances by dispersion
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B6/00Projectiles or missiles specially adapted for projection without use of explosive or combustible propellant charge, e.g. for blow guns, bows or crossbows, hand-held spring or air guns
    • F42B6/10Air gun pellets ; Ammunition for air guns, e.g. propellant-gas containers
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B64AIRCRAFT; AVIATION; COSMONAUTICS
    • B64CAEROPLANES; HELICOPTERS
    • B64C27/00Rotorcraft; Rotors peculiar thereto
    • B64C27/04Helicopters

Abstract

A fire fighting system configured to deliver rescue equipment and fight high rise building fires via pneumatically launched projectiles filled with either rescue equipment or fire suppressant chemicals. The system is composed of several sub-systems working in unison and carried by land vehicle, handcart, vessel or aircraft to accomplish the goal of storing, delivering, loading and launching the projectiles at close or distant targets via a controllable power source of either pneumatics, hydraulics, electromagnetism or other non-explosive methodology.

Description

FIRE FIGHTING SYSTEMS AND METHODS

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION This application claims the benefit of US Provisional Application No. 61/581973, filed December 30, 2011, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

Since the dawn of fire fighting there has been a need for more advanced systems to fight fires. As small buildings grew to become sky scrapers and small businesses became huge factories, fuel depots and chemical dumps, the need to effectively fight fires at these locations became greater, while the technology to accomplish these goals has stood relatively at a standstill. In recent years the military's of many countries have also expressed great concern at fighting fires in high threat areas like nuclear power plants, combat zones and at ammunition depots due to the extreme hazard of getting too close to the fires due to their inherent explosion and radiation risks.

Also, many high rise office fires that could have been extinguished when they were confined to one or two small areas spread to engulf entire buildings due to the inability of fire fighters to reach out and extinguish fires at a distance greater than their hoses could pump.

These problems and several others are of daily concern to fire departments around the world.

SUMMARY

This summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This summary is not intended to identify key features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter.

In accordance with aspects of the present disclosure, a system is provided. The system comprises one or more computing devices configured to transmit control instructions.

The system also comprises a plurality of projectiles. In some embodiments, the plurality of projectiles are selected from a group consisting of a refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a non-refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a barricade penetrator shell, and a life equipment carrying shell. In some embodiments, the refrigerated chemical shells include one of carbon dioxide hydrate and liquid nitrogen, the non-refrigerated chemical shells include one of halon and carbon dioxide, and the barricade penetrator shell includes one of solid core and an outer shell and a frangible inner core. The solid core can include material or materials selected from a group consisting of concrete, metal, and plastic, and the frangible inner core includes material or materials selected from a group consisting of sand, liquid, and powdered fire suppression chemicals.

In embodiment of the present disclosure, the life equipment shells are configured to carry life sustaining equipment selected from the group consisting of a smoke mask, a fire blanket, a first aid kit, a water container, and a two way radio. In some embodiments, the life equipment shells further include one of a light source and an audible source. Additionally or alternatively, the life equipment shells may also be configured to open upon contact with a barrier surface, and wherein the light source or the audible source is activated upon opening of the life equipment shells. In some embodiments, the audible source includes one of safety information regarding the fire and equipment usage directions.

In accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure, the refrigerated chemical shells include one of a bursting chemical shell and spinning chemical shell. In some embodiments, the spinning chemical shell includes carbon dioxide hydrate and is configured to employ the expanding carbon dioxide gas once transitioned from the carbon dioxide hydrate to spin the chemical shell or elevated and spin chemical shell. In these embodiments and others, the spinning chemical shell may include two opposing winglets and two vents disposed near the opposing winglets, the two vents configured to direct the expanding carbon dioxide gas at the winglets, whereby contact with the winglets causes spinning of the chemical shell.

The system also includes a launch system that includes a projectile cannon and a turret assembly. The turret assembly is configured to move the projectile cannon in both azimuth and inclination directions based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices.

The system also includes a loading system. The loading system includes a magazine configured to store the plurality of projectiles. The magazine is movable in order to deliver a selected projectile to a launch position and operable to load the selected projectile in the launch system based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices. In some embodiments, the loading system includes a plurality of transport tubes configured to store a plurality of projectiles. In some embodiments, each of the plurality of transport tubes stores the same type of projectile. In other embodiments, each of the plurality of transport tubes stores different types of projectiles.

In embodiments according to aspects of the present disclosure, the one or more computing devices transmits control instructions to move one of the plurality of transport tubes carrying a selected projectile to a launch position based on projectile tracking information. In some embodiments, the projectile tracking information is generated by an RFID system and is stored in the one or more computing devices.

In embodiments according to aspects of the present disclosure, the plurality of transport tubes are configured to move within a track configured to guide the transport to a launch position and a reload position. In some embodiments, the configuration of the track is serpentine.

The system further includes a propulsion force generator configured to apply a pressurized fluid to the projectile when the projectile is in the launch system to propel the projectile out of the cannon based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices. In some embodiments, the propulsion force generator is configured to provide a pressurized fluid adjustable in magnitude and duration. In these embodiments and others, the pressurized fluid includes compressed gas.

In embodiments according to aspects of the present disclosure, the propulsion force generator includes one or more pre-launch chambers configured to hold an amount of compressed gas at a variable pressure and volume. In some embodiments, the one or more pre-launch chambers are charged with an amount of compressed gas at a pressure and volume determined to propel the selected projectile to a target location. The pressure and volume can be determined by the one or more computing devices based on input from a targeting system. Additionally or alternative, embodiments of the propulsion force generator further includes one or more main supply tanks configured to store an excess amount of compressed gas at pressures higher than the determined pressure of the pre-launch chambers, and a pre-launch valve configured to conditionally charge the one or more pre-launch chambers with compressed gas from the one or more main supply tanks with at least the determined pressure and volume.

In embodiments according to aspects of the present disclosure, the one or more computing devices are configured to determine the launch variables of the propulsion force generator based on input from a targeting system and characteristics of the selected projectile. In some embodiments, the launch variables are pressure and volume. In other embodiments, the launch variables are based on data indicative of one or more of weight of the selected projectile, angle of the projectile cannon, distance from the target location, and wind speed. Alternatively or additionally, the propulsion force generator includes one or more main supply tanks configured to store an excess volume of compressed gas at pressures higher than the determined pressure of the pre-launch chambers, one or more compressors configured to conditionally supply compressed gas to the one or more main supply tanks, a pre-launch valve configured to conditionally charge the one or more pre- launch chambers with compressed gas from the one or more main supply tanks with at least the determined volume and the determined pressure; and a launch valve configured to conditionally deliver the compressed gas from the one or more pre-launch chambers to the launch system and to regulate the volume of the compressed gas delivery to the launch system based on instructions from the one or more computing device to equal the determined volume of compressed gas.

In embodiments according to aspects of the present disclosure, a compressed air distribution arrangement is coupled to the one or more main supply tanks. The compressed air distribution arrangement is configured to conditionally deliver compressed gas to one of: the loading system in order to load the selected projectile to the launch system; and the launch system in order to position the projectile such that the launch system can be de-coupled from fluid communication with the loading system via a valve.

In embodiments according to aspects of the present disclosure, the system further comprising a targeting system configured to acquire a target location and generate coordinates corresponding thereto. In some embodiments, the targeting system includes one or more cameras configured to capture images from a fire location and one or more laser targeting systems configured to determine the distance from the cannon of the launch system and a target location. Additional or alternatively, the targeting system further includes an infrared device configured to generate heat signature information of the fire location. In some embodiments, the one or more computing devices are configured to determine wind speed at the fire location based on information from one or more of the one or more video cameras, the one or more laser targeting systems, and the infrared device. In these or other embodiments, the propulsion force generator is controlled based on information from the targeting system. In embodiments according to aspects of the present disclosure, the target location is determined based on locations near the fire location, wherein the locations near the fire locations are obtained via the laser targeting system, wherein the target location is determined based on information obtained from the laser targeting system regarding the locations near the fire and information from the one or more cameras. In some embodiments, the targeting system is configured to acquire a visual target representing the target location, obtain a visual target lock on the target location, and obtain a sensor target lock on the target location. In some embodiments, the visual target lock is obtained by aiming the one or more cameras on the target location, wherein the visual target lock is indicative of azimuth and inclination measurements of the target location. In these or other embodiments, the sensor target lock is obtained by aiming the one or more distance determining devices at the target location and obtaining a distance from the canon to one of the target location and near the target location, the sensor target lock indicative of a distance measurement of the target location.

In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, a fire fighting system is provided. The fire fighting system includes one or more computing devices configured to transmit control instructions, a plurality of projectiles configured to assist in fire fighting, wherein the plurality of projectiles include two or more types of projectiles selected from a group consisting of a refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a non- refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a barricade penetrator shell, and a life equipment carrying shell, a launch system comprising a launch tube and means for moving the launch tube in both azimuth and inclination directions based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices, a loading system configured to store the plurality of projectiles and to deliver a selected projectile to the launch system based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices, and a non- explosive propulsion force generator configured to apply a non-explosive force to the selected projectile when the projectile is in the launch tube to propel the projectile out of the launch tube based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices.

In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, a system is provided for fighting fires. The system includes one or more computing devices configured to transmit control instructions, a plurality of fire suppressing projectiles, a targeting system configured to acquire a target location and generate coordinates corresponding thereto, wherein the targeting system includes one or more cameras configured to capture images from a fire location, and one or more distance determining systems configured to determine the distance from the cannon of the launch system and a target location, a launch system comprising a launch tube, wherein the launch system is configured to aim the launch tube in both azimuth and inclination directions based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices or input from the targeting system, a loading system configured to store the plurality of projectiles and to deliver a selected projectile to the launch system based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices, and a propulsion force generator configured to apply a compressed gas of a determined volume and pressure to the projectile when the projectile is in the launch system to propel the projectile out of the launch tube based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices.

In some embodiments, the targeting system is configured to: acquire a visual target representing the target location; obtain a visual target lock on the target location; and obtain a sensor target lock on the target location. In these or other embodiments, the one or more computing devices are configured to determine the pressure and volume of the propulsion force generator based on input from a targeting system and characteristics of the selected projectile. The propulsion force generator in some embodiments can include one or more pre-launch chambers conditionally coupled in fluid communication with the launch tube, one or more main supply tanks configured to store a compressed gas at an excess pressure and volume, a pre-launch valve configured to conditionally charge the one or more pre-launch chambers with compressed gas from the one or more main supply tanks, and a launch valve configured to conditionally deliver the compressed gas from the one or more pre-launch chambers to the launch tube and to regulate the volume and/or pressure of the compressed gas delivered to the launch tube based on instructions from the one or more computing device.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the present disclosure, a system is provided, which comprises a plurality of fire suppressing projectiles, a launch tube movable in azimuth and inclination, a targeting system configured to acquire a target location, a loading system configured to store the plurality of projectiles and to deliver a selected projectile to the launch system, a non-explosive propulsion force generator configured to deliver a non-explosive force to the projectile in the launch tube to propel the projectile out of the launch cannon, and one or more computing devices. In some embodiments, the one or more computing devices of the system includes one or more processors and one or more computer program products including executions that when executed by one or more processors causes the one or more computing devices to: obtain a target location from the targeting system and generate coordinates corresponding thereto; direct the loading system to deliver a selected projectile to the launch tube; aim the launch tube in accordance with the coordinates of the target location; and determine a non-explosive propulsion force suitable for propelling the selected projectile from the launch tube over to the target location; and deliver the non-explosive propulsion force to the launch tube.

In accordance with still yet another aspect of the present disclosure, a control system is provided, which comprises a plurality of sensors, one or more operator controlled input devices, a display, and one or more computing devices coupled in communication with the display, the one or more sensors and the one or more operator controlled input devices. The one or more computing devices include one or more processors, memory, and program instructions stored in the memory. When the program instructions are executed by one or more processors, the program instructions cause the one or more computing devices to: sequentially obtain a plurality of target locations via input generated by the one of more input devices from fire locations rendered on the display; obtain spherical coordinate data corresponding to the plurality of target locations in part by information generated by one or sensors of the plurality of sensors; obtain information indicative of a type of projectile to be launch at each target location; locate the projectiles in a loading system based on inventory information generated by one or more sensors of the plurality of sensors and link the spherical coordinate data of the projectiles with the selected projectile for each target location; determine data indicative of a non-explosive propulsion force suitable for propelling each selected projectile to its corresponding target location based on the spherical coordinate data and projectile data; associate the determined data indicative of the non-explosive propulsion force with the linked spherical coordinate data of each selected projectiles for each sequential target location; and store the associated data as a firing solution file in memory.

In some embodiments, the program instructions, when executed by one or more processors, further cause the one or more computing devices to carry out the firing solution to: sequentially aim one or more launch tubes in accordance with the spherical coordinates of the target locations; sequentially deliver the selected projectile to the launch tube; and sequentially deliver the non-explosive propulsion force to the launch for launching each projectile at its corresponding target location. In these or other embodiments, the firing solution, when carried out by the one or more computing devices, is modified based on real time or near real time data geneterating by one or more sensors for the plurality of sensors. In some embodiments, the modification to the firing solution includes one of modification of the generated non-explosive propulsion force and modification of the spherical coordinates of the target locations.

In accordance with yet still another aspect of the present disclosure, a combination is provided, which comprises two or more fire fighting systems at a fire location. Each of the two of more fire fighting systems includes one or more computing devices configured to transmit control instructions, a plurality of projectiles configured to assist in fire fighting, wherein the plurality of projectiles include two or more types of projectiles selected from a group consisting of a refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a non- refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a barricade penetrator shell, and a life equipment carrying shell, a launch system comprising a launch tube and means for moving the launch tube in both azimuth and inclination directions based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices, a loading system configured to store the plurality of projectiles and to deliver a selected projectile to the launch system based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices; a non-explosive propulsion force generator configured to apply a non-explosive force to the selected projectile when the projectile is in the launch tube to propel the projectile out of the launch tube based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices; and a communications interface configured for two way radio communication. The two or more fire fighting systems exchange data based on the fire location and generate a fire combating strategy for cooperatively combating fires at the fire location.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing aspects and many of the attendant advantages of this invention will become more readily appreciated as the same become better understood by reference to the following detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of one example of a vehicle employing an embodiment of a system for fighting fires in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure; FIGURE 2 is a block diagram of components of the system of FIGURE 1;

FIGURE 3 is a schematic representation of an interior of the vehicle of FIGURE 1 , showing one or more components of the fire fighting system;

FIGURES 4A-4C are schematic representations of partial cross-sectional views of one example of a cannon and turret assembly of a launch system formed in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURES 5A and 5B are schematic representations of one example of a loading or rack system formed in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURES 6A and 6B are schematic representations of examples of components of the loading or rack system of FIGURE 5B;

FIGURES 7A-7E depict several examples of projectiles that can be launched at a target location in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURES 8A-8B depict an example method for loading one example projectile with a fire suppressing fluid in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURES 9A-9C illustrate one use of a example projectile in suppressing fire in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURES 10A-10E depict one example configuration of a refrigeration shell projectile in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURE 11 depicts first and second refrigeration shell projectiles of FIGURES 10A-10E in operation for fire suppression in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURES 12A and 12B depict one example of a barricade penetrator shell in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURES 12C-12E depict one example use of the barricade penetrator shell of FIGURES 12A and 12B in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURE 13A is an example of a life equipment shell (LES) in an open configuration in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURES 13B and 13C depict one example use of the life equipment shell (LES) of FIGURES 13A in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURE 14 is a schematic representation of one or more laser beams transmitted from the system at a building with a smoke obscured fire, the data from the one or more laser beams being part of a near target acquisition algorithm in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure; FIGURE 15 is a schematic representation of a computer screen visually displaying information regarding a target location and the operational conditional of other components of the system;

FIGURE 16A and 16B are schematic representations of one or more laser beams transmitted from one or more systems at a building with a smoke obscured fire, the data from the one or more laser beams being part of another near target acquisition algorithm in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURES 17A-17D are schematic views of a handtruck employing another embodiment of a system for fighting fires in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURE 18A is a schematic view of an aircraft employing yet another embodiment of a system for fighting fires in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURES 18B and 18C are schematic views the system of FIGURE 18A for fighting fires in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURE 19 is schematic view of yet another example of a vehicle employing yet another embodiment of a system for fighting fires in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURE 20 shows multiple fire fighting systems, such as a VLS, a ALS and a PLS, in a fire battle scenario involving a high rise building, another low rise building with a street disposed therebetween;

FIGURE 21 A shows a mountain area where a building and forest are on fire and an ALS and a VLS are delivering projectiles to their targeted locations;

FIGURE 2 IB shows an ocean fire battle scenario with both a ship and an oil platform involved in a fire, and an ALS and a VLS are delivering projectiles to their targeted locations;

FIGURE 22 is a block diagram of one example of a control system in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure;

FIGURE 23 is a block diagram of one example of a force generator formed in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure; and

FIGURE 24 is a functional block diagram of one example of a targeting system in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The detailed description set forth below in connection with the appended drawings where like numerals reference like elements is intended as a description of various embodiments of the disclosed subject matter and is not intended to represent the only embodiments. Each embodiment described in this disclosure is provided merely as an example or illustration and should not be construed as preferred or advantageous over other embodiments. The illustrative examples provided herein are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the claimed subject matter to the precise forms disclosed. Similarly, any steps described herein may be interchangeable with other steps, or combinations of steps, in order to achieve the same or substantially similar result.

Prior to discussing the details of various aspects of the present disclosure, it should be understood that the following description includes sections that are presented largely in terms of logic and operations that may be performed by conventional electronic components. These electronic components may be grouped in a single location or distributed over a wide area. It will be appreciated by one skilled in the art that the logic described herein may be implemented in a variety of configurations, including but not limited to, hardware, software, and combinations thereof. In circumstances were the components are distributed, the components are accessible to each other via communication links.

In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of representative embodiments of the present disclosure. It will be apparent to one skilled in the art, however, that many embodiments of the present disclosure may be practiced without some or all of the specific details. In some instances, well-known process steps or structure have not been described in detail in order not to unnecessarily obscure various aspects of the present disclosure. Further, it will be appreciated that embodiments of the present disclosure may employ any combination of features described herein. Accordingly, the following descriptions and illustrations herein should be considered illustrative in nature, and thus, not limiting the scope of the claimed subject matter.

The following description and the drawings set forth one or more examples of systems and methods suitable for fighting fires at a distance greater than hoses can pump, and at any height that can be achieved by modern building design. These examples and other may also propel life saving equipment to people trapped in a fire situation so they have a chance to survive until fire fighters can physically reach their location. Through the use of one or more aspects of the systems and methods described herein, a stand-off approach for attacking the very source of the blaze can occur to rapidly and effectively deliver a wide variety of chemical, solid and equipment bearing projectiles into the blaze.

In one embodiment, a system of the present disclosure employs a pneumatic projectile launch system that has the ability to directly and indirectly deliver pin-point fire suppressing chemicals. Other embodiments may employ a hydraulic projectile launch system. In either case, the projectile launch system in some embodiments is adjustable in order to either "lob" (arced trajectory) or "speedball" (straight line trajectory) projectiles, sometimes referred to herein as "shells" or "chemical shells" into, over, or through a fire situation to best address the requirements of particular types of fires.

The unique implementation of the attack on the fire lends itself to a variety of fire suppression chemicals and a variety of projectile configurations that deliver the fire suppression chemicals as will be described in detail below. The projectiles in several chemical shell configurations can deliver their load via bursting, spilling, spraying and even flying around disbursing chemicals in a fire situation. The chemical shell configurations also have the ability to carry gaseous compounds, liquids, solids and multi-part chemical configurations that can mix at the fire location for maximum effect.

The fire fighting systems can be implemented in several different configurations that allow them to be used in a variety of ways from inside and outside of office buildings, to maritime shipboard fires, and from forest fires to ammunition dump fires. Examples of these configurations include but are not limited to a "Hand Truck" man portable system, a land vehicle mounted system, and an aircraft system. These configurations allow the system to be utilized in ways that exceed the capabilities of conventional fire fighting equipment. The ability to stop various high rise and large factory fires that now routinely rage on in an uncontrollable fashion will not only save live but save millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars every time the systems and methods of the present disclosure can be utilized.

Current fire fighting techniques expose both victims trapped in the buildings, and fire fighters trying to rescue them, to extreme danger, severe injury and possible death. As will be appreciated from the examples below, one real advantage of the systems and methods disclosed herein is their ability to deliver life saving equipment to people trapped in the fires while allowing the fire fighters to stay at a stand-off distance until the majority of tile fire is suppressed and entry to the location is less hazardous. Embodiments of the system can deliver life saving equipment like smoke masks, anti-burn blankets and other equipment that will allow people trapped in smoke filled, high heat areas to survive until the fire is subdued and they are rescued. The rapid delivery of this equipment using life equipment shells, along with portable communications systems to guide fire victims to safety, makes embodiments of the systems and methods of the present disclosure unique in its approach to fire fighting by combining both fire fighting and on-demand victim assistance in a single system.

Turning now to FIGURE 1, there is shown one example of a system, generally designated 20, for combating fires. The system 20 is sometimes referred to herein as a chemical shell system. FIGURE 2 is a block diagram of the components of one embodiment of the system 20. The system 20 depicted in FIGURE 1 is incorporated into a vehicle 22, such as a van, and will sometimes be referred to as a Vehicle Launch System 20 or VLS 20. It will be appreciated that embodiments of the system 20 or variations thereof can be employed by other types of vehicles, such as an aircraft 24 shown in FIGURE 18 A, marine vessels 26 as shown in FIGURE 2 IB, or larger land vehicles, such as the bus 28 shown in FIGURE 19. In other embodiments, aspects of the system 20 may be employed in a handtruck 30, as shown in the embodiment of FIGURES 17A-17D.

As best shown in FIGURES 1 and 2, the fire fighting system 20 includes: (1) a control system 34; (2) a plurality of projectiles 38; (3) a launch system 42; (4) a load or rack system 46; (5) a targeting system 50; (6) a power generation and delivery system 54; and (7) an optional refrigeration system 58. As best shown in FIGURE 3, a system operator (not shown) can access the control system 34 from, for example, an operator control station 64 housed in vehicle 22. As will be described in more detail below, the control system 34 includes one or more computers suitably programmed to interface with the system operator at the operator control station 64 via one or more human machine interface devices. Using the control system 34, a system operator has the ability to select, load and launch a multiplicity of projectiles 38 at any location that can be located via the targeting system 50, and is in range of the launch system 42. Once a target is located by, for example, the targeting system 50, the control system 34 employs the rack system 46 to deliver one or more suitable projectiles 38 to the launch system 42 to be launched at the targeted location. In one embodiment, an optional refrigeration system 58 maintains one or more of the projectiles 38 at a suitable temperature, and may provide general air conditioning functionality to one or more components of the vehicle 22. Finally, the system 20 may include its own power generation and distribution system 54 so that the fire fighting system can be employed in areas independent of "mains" power.

Turning now to FIGURES 3-16, each of the components or systems of the system 20 will be described in more detail. As best shown in FIGURE 3, the system operator can access the control system 34 from, for example, an operator control station 64 housed in vehicle 22. At the control station 64, the system operator interfaces with the control system 34 via human machine interface devices such as one or more displays, keyboards, joysticks, trackballs, touchpads, speakers, and/or the like. From this position, the system operator has the ability to select, load and launch a multiplicity of projectiles 38 at any location suitably located via operation of the targeting system 50 (FIGURES 2 and 24), etc.

In the embodiment shown in FIGURES 3 and 15B, the one or more displays include a computer screen 70. As will be described in more detail below, a graphical user interface (GUI) of the control system 34 can render content on the computer screen 70 in, for example, four sections. For example, each half of the screen 70 is a split screen view with two sections - the top or bottom section video image with cannon operational status and the top or bottom section with the system status readout. In various embodiments, each combined lateral view on the screen 70 may display both the video image generated by a telephoto camera 128 of the targeting system (and mounted, for example, on each cannon 160 as shown in FIGURE 3) and a graphically generated image of the various components of the control system employed to control the system 20. Within content rendered on the computer screen, crosshairs 304 can be included, which are manipulated by actuation of one of the HMI devices 136, such as a joystick, etc.

Referring now to FIGURE 22, the control system 34 may include one or more computing device 100, such as computers. A computing device 100 in one embodiment includes a processor 104 or central processing unit (CPU), a memory 108, and I/O circuitry 112 suitably interconnected via one or more buses. Depending on the exact configuration and type of device, the memory 108 may include system memory in the form of volatile or nonvolatile memory, such as read only memory ("ROM"), random access memory ("RAM"), EEPROM, flash memory, or similar memory technology. The system memory is capable of storing one or more programs, that are immediately accessible to and/or currently being operated on by the CPU. In this regard, the CPU serves as a computational center of the computer 100 by supporting the execution of instructions.

The memory 108 may also include storage memory, and may include a data store 116. The storage memory may be any volatile or nonvolatile, removable or nonremovable memory, implemented using any technology capable of storing information. Examples of storage memory include but are not limited to a hard drive, solid state drive, CD ROM, DVD, or other disk storage, magnetic cassettes, magnetic tape, magnetic disk storage, and the like. The information stored in the storage memory to be accessed by the CPU includes but is not limited to program modules, such as an operating system 118 (Microsoft Corporation's WINDOWS®, LINUX, Apple's Leopard, etc.), a system control module 120, etc. Generally, program modules may include routines, applications, objects, components, data structures, etc., that perform particular tasks or implement particular abstract data types. In some embodiments, the memory 108 stores a targeting module 122 and a launch module 124 among others.

As used herein, the term processor is not limited to integrated circuits referred to in the art as a computer, but broadly refers to a microcontroller, a microcomputer, a microprocessor, a programmable logic controller, an application specific integrated circuit, other programmable circuits, combinations of the above, among others. In one embodiment, the processor 104 executes instructions stored in memory 108, such as system control modules 122, to control the overall functionality of the systems described in detail below as well as other modules, such as targeting module 122 and launch module 124, to operate and/or control other functionality of the system 20.

The system control modules 120 as well as other modules, such as the targeting module 122 and the launch module 124, may include one or more sets of control algorithms, determination algorithms, etc., including resident program instructions and calibrations stored in one of the storage mediums and executed to provide desired functions. Information transfer to and from the modules can be accomplished by way of a direct connection, a local area network bus and a serial peripheral interface bus. The algorithms may be executed during preset loop cycles such that each algorithm is executed at least once each loop cycle. Algorithms stored in the non-volatile memory devices are executed by the processor to monitor inputs from the sensing devices and other data transmitting devices or polls such devices for data to be used therein. Loop cycles are executed at regular intervals, for example each 3.125, 6.25, 12.5, 25 and 100 milliseconds during ongoing operation of the vehicle. Alternatively, algorithms may be executed in response to the occurrence of an event.

Still referring to FIGURE 22, the processor 104 communicates with various data sources 126 directly or indirectly via an input/output (I/O) interface 112 and suitable communication links. The interface 112 may be implemented as a single integrated interface that provides various raw data or signal conditioning, processing, and/or conversion, short-circuit protection, and/or the like. Alternatively, one or more dedicated hardware or firmware chips may be used to condition and process particular signals before being supplied to the processor 104. In some embodiments, the signals transmitted from the interface 112 may be suitable digital or analog signals to control components of the system 20.

As briefly described above, the data sources 126 can include but are not limited to on-board sensors, a navigation/GPS device, a communications device, data stores, etc. In some embodiments, the data sources may also include one or more telephoto or video camera 128, one or more laser targeting devices 130, one or more infrared devices 132, sonar, radar devices and/or microwave devices 134, etc. In some embodiments, as will be described in detail below, the data sources may be part of or used by the targeting system 50.

The computing device 100 may also interface with one or more output devices in the form of graphical display (e.g., liquid crystal display (LCD), light emitting polymer display (LPD), plasma display, Light emitting Diode (LED) display, Organic Light emitting Diode (OLED) display, etc.), such as computer screen 70. The computing device 100 may also include one or more input devices 136, such as a keyboard, touch pad, joystick, cameras, a pointing device, a touchscreen, which can be referred to as HMI devices herein. The output devices and the input devices are suitably connected through appropriate interfaces of the I/O circuitry. As would be generally understood, other input/output devices may also be connected to the processor in a similar manner.

In some embodiments, the control system 34 also includes a communications interface 140 comprising one or more components for communicating over one or more wireless networks, using any suitable communication protocols (e.g., cellular, infrared, satellite, mesh, IEEE 802.11, 802.15, 802.16, 802.20, FHSS, etc). As best shown in FIGURE 22, one example of the interface may include components, including modems, transmitter/receiver and/or transceiver circuitry, for performing communications over the one or more wireless networks. To communicate wirelessly, the interface may include one or more suitable antennas 142. For ease of illustration, FIGURE 22 does not depict analog to digital converters, digital to analog converters, amplifiers, device controllers, etc., which will typically be included with the communications interface. However, since these and other components that may be included with the communications interface are known in the art, they will not be described in detail here. It will be appreciated that communications interface can be controlled by the one or more computing devices or one or more separate controllers in communication with the computing devices and/or the HMI devices. In some embodiments, the system 20 is capable of communications with other systems 20 in the vicinity of the fire as well as a central command center, etc., via the communications interface. In other embodiments, the communications interface 140 allows direct or indirect control of the system 20 from remote locations.

One example operation of the control system 34 will now be briefly described. As will be described in more detail below, a vehicle 22 employing an embodiment of the system 20 arrives at the scene of a fire, such as a high rise building shown in FIGURE 20. Once at the scene, the system 20 establishes communication links with other systems 20 (or systems 20', 20" described below) on site via the communications interface 140. In doing so, information is exchanged, the fire is assessed, and a common fire fighting strategy can be brought forth. For example, the fire fighting strategy may include prioritized locations to strike, types of projectiles desired for use, etc. In some embodiments, the prioritized location can be illuminated with a laser generated outline, which can either be visibly seen on the building or rendered on the computer screen 70 and displayed to the systems operations at each system. Thus, most or all of the systems 20 at the scene can battle the fire cooperatively and can direct the projectiles at the prioritized location.

The system operator of the system 20 can then employ the computer screen 70 and one or more of the HMI devices 136, such as the joystick or touchpad, to sequentially select target locations within the prioritized location. Contemporaneously, the system operator can also select the type of projectiles desired to be launched at the sequentially selected target locations. Next, as will be described in more detail below, the control system 34 can automatically develop a firing solution for sequentially launching the projectiles at the selected target locations. In doing so, the control system 34 employs the targeting system 50 to acquire information about each of the target locations, such as GPS location, cannon elevational and rotational position, distance to target, and other information of the target site, such as wind speed, etc. At the same time, the control system 34 uses information from, for example, an RFID system, to locate the selected projectiles within the rack system 46 and optimizes their sequential delivery to the launch system 42. Next, the control system 34 obtains the launch force for launching each projectile based on launch variables such as pressure, volume, weight of projectile, inclination angle, distance, etc. These may be stored in previously generated look-up tables or can be determined via calculation algorithms of, for example, the launch module 124, etc.

The results of the obtained launch force for each sequential target location can then be adjusted in real-time or near real time based on monitored data regarding one or more variables, such as wind speed, etc., in order to create a final firing solution. In some embodiments, the firing solution may alternatively or additionally include adjustment to the angle of inclination and azimuth of the cannon in order to affect proper placement of the projectile at the target location. The control system 34 can then control the rack system, the launch system, and the propulsion force generator to automatically fire the projectiles according to the final firing solution. In other embodiments, the control system 34 can prompt the system operator for firing authorization prior to autonomously carrying out the firing solution.

As was briefly described above, the launch system 42 is mounted to or otherwise associated with the vehicle 22 and is configured to: receive one or more projectiles 38 from the rack system 46; and project or launch the one or more projectiles, such as projectiles 38, externally outwardly away from the vehicle 22. As will be described in more detail below, under control of the control system 34, the launch system 42 utilizes high pressure fluid, such as compressed gas, to propel one or more projectiles 38 to the site of a fire based on information from the targeting system 50.

Still referring to FIGURE 3 and 4A-4B, the launch system 42 includes one or more cannons 160 and associated turret assemblies 164. In the embodiment shown, left and right side cannons 160 A and 160B are supported by the roof of the vehicle 22 via turret assemblies 164 A and 164B. The construction and operation of the left and right cannons and their respective turret assemblies are substantially similar, and thus, for brevity of the disclosure only the left side cannon 160B/turret assembly 164B will be described in more detail. The cannon 160B includes a cannon barrel forming a launch tube and a cannon muzzle at its free end. When assembled, the barrel of the cannon 160B is coupled to the rack system 46 via a flexible launch tube 170. The flexible launch tube 170 interfaces with the transport tube 246A of the rack system 46 via a pre-launch portal 174 and launch tube entry section 176, as best shown in FIGURE 3. In some embodiments, the launch tube entry section 176 is part of or integrally formed with the flexible launch tube 170.

High pressure fluid is delivered to the launch tube entry section 176 via injection port 178 fed by high pressure delivery lines, passageways, conduits, or the like. The high pressure fluid can be conditionally and adjustable delivered to the launch tube entry section 176 under control of one or more controllable valves, etc., as will be described in more detail below. Disposed adjacent to the launch tube entry section 176 and in proximity of the pre-launch portal 174 is a pre-launch portal valve or other structure that is capable of sealing off the flexible launch tube 170 from the transport tube 246A of the rack system in its closed position. It will be appreciated that the valve or other structure in its open position allows the projectiles 38 to pass from the transport tube 246 A of the rack system 46 to the cannon 160B. In the embodiment shown, the pre-launch portal valve includes a sliding door 180 that is actuatable between a closed position shown in FIGURE 4A, and a closed position shown in FIGURES 4B-4C.

In some embodiments, the high pressure fluid is delivered to the launch tube entry section 176 via a propulsion force generator. In one embodiment, the propulsion force generator includes one or more pre-launch chambers 182 conditionally connected to the injection port 178 via controllable launch valve 188, as best shown in FIGURES 3, 4A, and 24. As will be described in more detail below, the pre-launch chambers 182 are filled via main supply tanks 184, which may also be used to supply pressurized fluid to other components of the system 20. The main supply tanks 184 can be continuously or intermittently filled by one or more gas driven compressors 186, which in some embodiments are positioned below the operator control station 64 as shown in FIGURE 3. The main supply tanks 184, the pre-launch chambers 182, as well as other components of the system 20 are interconnected via valve and distribution arrangements 190. In some embodiments, the pressurized fluid is compressed gas, such as air. As will be described in detail below, the main supply tanks 184 and the pre-launch chambers 182 may be part of or used by the power generating system 54. Each cannon 160, via their respective turret assembly 164, is capable of movement in the elevational (e.g., inclination) and rotational (e.g., azimuth) direction under control of the control system 34, as will be described in more detail below. Such movement can be realized via any known or future developed mechanical arrangement, and can be actuated by any conventional means, such as electrical, electro-mechanical, pneumatic, or hydraulic means. In some embodiments, movement of the cannons 160 via the mechanical arrangements can be affected manually by human operator. As such, the muzzle 166 of each cannon 160 can be moved according to a spherical coordinate system and can be aimed with precision according to coordinates determined by, for example, the control system 34.

One example of an arrangement for carrying out the functionality described above will now be described with respect to FIGURES 4A-4C. In order to affect both rotational (e.g., azimuth) and elevational (e.g., inclination) movement of the one or more cannons 160, each turret assembly 164 may include a rotational device 200 and an elevational device 204. In some embodiments, the rotational device 200 may include a ring, a rotary table/platform, etc., on which most of the remaining components of the turret assembly 164 is mounted. The rotational device 200 or components thereof are rotationally supported about a vertical axis by a base or the like, which is stationarily mounted to the vehicle 22. In the embodiment shown, the rotational device 200 includes a rotary table or platform 208 supported by a plurality of bearings 210.

On the other hand, the elevational device 204 in one embodiment includes a cannon elevation ring 214, which is attached to the cannon barrel at the end of the flexible launch tube 170. The cannon elevation ring 212 is rotationally supported about a horizontal axis on the rotational device 200 within a turret cowl 216.

The platform 208 of the rotational device 200 and the cannon elevation ring 212 of the elevational device 204 can be actuated by one or more motors 220. In the embodiment shown, the one or more motors 220A are configured and arranged to interface with and drive the platform 208, which in turn, moves the turret cowl 216 and cannon 160 to the selected rotational position based on control signals of the control system 34 for the launch of the next projectile 38. Similarly, one or more motors 220B are provided to rotate the cannon elevation ring 212, which in turn, rotates the cannon 160 in an elevated arc to the selected inclination position based on control signals of the control system 34 for the launch of the next projectile 38. The one or more motors 220 can be electric motors such as stepper motors, pneumatic or hydraulic motors, or combinations thereof. Other components, such as gears, linkages, cables, and/or the like, may be employed in conjunction with the motors 220 as known in the art to rotate the platform 208 and the cannon elevational ring 212.

The motors 220 can be controlled by the control sub- system 34 via suitable device level circuitry in order to control the rotational (e.g., azimuth) position and the elevational (i.e., inclination) position of the one or more cannons. Sensors or other feedback mechanism may be employed to assist in proper positioning of each cannon 160. As such, the combination of the control system 34 and the motors 220 are capable of providing a precise multi-directional aiming ability of the cannon 160.

As briefly stated above, one or more projectiles, such as projectiles 38, are delivered to the launch system 42 via the rack system 46. Generally described, the rack system 46 is configured to store one or more groups of projectiles 38, and to deliver a projectile selected by the control system 34 to the launch system 42. In some embodiments, the rack system 46, sometimes referred to as a load system, stores one or more sets of projectiles in a magazine. For the purpose of the examples described herein, a magazine is any device which can be loaded with, store and on demand provide the launch system with one or more projectiles 38.

In the embodiment shown, the magazine of the system 20 includes a magazine carrousel 234 as shown in FIGURES 5A-5B. The operation of the magazine carrousel 234 is controlled by the control system 34 via input by the system operator. For example, when the system operator directs the control system 34 to fire one or more specific projectiles 20 at a target location, the control system 34 uses the magazine carrousel 234 to locate and select the proper projectiles 38 within the magazine carrousel 234 and ready them for launch as directed by the control system 34.

As best shown in FIGURES 5A and 5B, the magazine carrousel 234 in some embodiments includes left and right carrousel sections 234A and 234B that provide projectiles to the left and right cannons 160 of the launch system 42. The construction and operation of the left and right carrousel sections 234 are substantially similar, and thus, for brevity of the disclosure only the left side carrousel section 234B will be described in more detail. The carrousel section 234B includes upper and lower carrousel assemblies 236B and 238B, upper and lower transport tube retainers 240B (hidden in FIGURES 5A-5B) and 242B, and a plurality of transport tubes 246. The transport tube retainers 240 and 242 are securely mounted but flexibly coupled for movement within corresponding tracks 248B (upper tracks hidden in FIGURES 5A-5B) disposed in the upper and lower carrousel assemblies 236 and 238. In the embodiment shown, the tracks 248B have a serpentine configuration, although other configurations may be practiced with embodiments of the present disclosure. The transport tube retainers 240 and 242 are configured to support the transport tubes 246 in an upright manner, as best shown in FIGURES 5A-5B. In some embodiments, the transport tube retainers 240 and 242 include tubular end caps, which are flexibly coupled together in a chain or belt drive configuration. As such, respective upper and lower transport tube retainer pairs 240, 242 move in parallel synchronous sequence within the tracks 248 of the upper and lower carrousel assemblies 236 and 238.

Transport tube retainers 242 in the upper carrousel assemblies 236 can be tubes with open ends. The open ends are covered by the structure of the upper carrousel assembly 236 when the transport tubes 246 are supported therein in substantially all positions except the launch position. In the launch position, the open top of the transport tube retainer 242 enables the loading of the projectiles from the transport tube 246 into the pre-launch portal 174.

FIGURE 5B illustrates one transport tube 246A in the launch position and one transport tube 246B in the re-load position. In order to move the selected transport tube into the launch position, an actuator is provided. In some embodiments, the actuator comprises a motor 250 and a transfer shaft 252. The transfer shaft 252 is configured to interface with both the motor 250 and the upper transport tube retainers 240 at one end and is configured to interface with the lower transport tube retainers 242 at the other end. In use, motion of the motor 250 rotates the transfer shaft 252, which transfers the rotational motion of the motor 250 to the transport tube retainers 240, 242, thereby moving the retainers 240, 242 with the tracks 248. The one or more motors 250 can be electric motors such as stepper motors, pneumatic or hydraulic motors, or combinations thereof.

The motors 250 can be controlled by the control system 34 via suitable device level circuitry in order to control the positioning of the transport tubes 246 within the rack system 34. Sensors or other feedback mechanism may be employed to assist in proper positioning of the transport tube at the launch and/or reload position. As briefly discussed above, FIGURE 5B shows two different transport tubes 246A and 246B loaded into the magazine carrousel 234. The two transport tubes 246A and 246B are loading with projectiles 38. One transport tube 246B is shown in the re-loading position at the rear loading door 260 of the magazine carrousel 234. This is the location where empty transport tubes 246 are removed and fully loaded transport tubes 246 are loaded into the magazine carrousel 234. The other transport tube 246A is shown at the launch position directly aligned under the pre-launch portal 174 of the launch system 42.

As shown in FIGURE 6A and 6B, the magazine carrousel 234 may include projectile identification means disposed near or otherwise associated with the selected transport tube when the selected transport tube is in the launch position. For example, a series of RFID reader modules 264 may be mounted or integrally formed with the interior magazine wall. When each transport tube 246 is positioned at this location, or any location along the interior magazine wall where a plurality of RFID reader modules are located, the control system 34 reads the type and number of projectiles in that particular transport tube 246 according to a corresponding projectile identifier, such as an RFID tag, carried by each type of projectile 38, as will be described in more detail below. The projectile identification means may also allow the control system 34 to determine and track the position of each transport tube 246 and the number of associated projectiles 38 carried therein. This can create a constantly updated inventory in the control system 34, which can be rendered on the display and viewed by the systems operator. Such data may also be transmitted to a central command unit via the communications interface, which can be tracking the progress of the fire fighting scenario for command, control, training and accounting reasons, among others.

Also shown in FIGURE 6B, each transport tube 88 includes a lifting mechanism 270 configured to advance the next available projectile 38 within the transport tube 246 to the launch entry tube section 176 of the launch system 42. In the embodiment shown, the mechanism 270 includes a lifter 274, such as a tubular piston, slidably disposed within the bottom of the transport tube, and capable of motion along the entire length of the transport tube. The lifter 274 can be moved within the transfer tube via pneumatic pressure intermittently introduced to the transport tubes 246 under the lifter 274, although other lifting mechanisms, such as jack screws and/or the like, may be configured and arranged to achieve such functionality. Movement of the lifter 274 can lift the entire column of projectiles 38 within the transport tube 246 so that the topmost projectile 38 can be moved into the pre-launch portal 174 and on to the launch entry tube section 176. As briefly discussed above, the pre-launch portal 174 sits above the open top of the transport tube 246A in the launch position and interfaces with the flexible cannon tube 170 and launch tube entry section 176. In some embodiments, the lifter 274 rises with each projectile within the transport tube and maintains its position via a vertical locking system, such as a retractable pawl system or other motion locking device, to achieve simple indexed movement and position retention of the lifter after each projectile is positioned for launch. In some embodiments, the lower retainers 242 can interface with a conditional source of fluid pressure, such as main supply tanks 184, when in the launch position in order to provide fluid pressure to the lifter 274.

As will be described in more detail below, the projectiles 38 can be any projectile configured for either fire mitigation or the delivery of life saving equipment. In embodiments of the present disclosure, the system 20 employs two or more types of the projectiles in order to battle a fire. Each type of projectile can be loaded into their respective transport tubes, which can be loaded in various sequences in the magazine carrousel. By loading several transport tubes with similar types of projectiles in a sequence in the magazine carrousel, the control system only has to rotate the carrousel motor a small amount to move a transport tube carrying the selected projectile to the launch position. Alternatively, different types of projectiles can be loaded into each transport tube, and their positioning within the transport tube and the within the magazine carrousel can be tracked by the RFID system and stored in the control system 34.

Operation of the rack system 46 and the launch system 42 in accordance with some embodiments will now be described in some detail. Once the system operator selects a projectile 38 or a set of projectiles 38 for launch according to instructions from the targeting system 50, the control system 34 transmits appropriate command instructions in the form of control signals to the rack system and the launch system. Upon receipt of these commands at the rack system 46, the rack system 46 activates the carrousel motor 250 on the side of the vehicle 22 with the appropriate cannon that has been designated to launch the selected projectile 38. As shown in FIGURE 5B, the carrousel motor 250 rotates the carrousel transfer shaft 252, which in turn, moves the carrousel transport tube retainers within the track. Under control of the control system 34, the carrousel motor 250 can precisely move any transport tube to the launch position as shown in FIGURE 6B. In moving the transport tubes 246, the control system 34 can use the information from the RFID system to locate the closest projectile of the type selected by the systems operator.

Once a transport tube containing a projectile of the selected type is moved to the launch position, the lifter 174 can be activated to move the upper most projectile into a launch position within the pre-launch portal 174 and launch tube entry section 176. In one embodiment, pneumatic force from the main supply tanks 184 can be routed to the transport tube 246A via appropriately configured valves and distribution lines to elevate the lifter 174, and in turn, the selected projectile 38, into a launch position within the pre-launch portal 174 and launch tube entry section 176.

Upon receipt of the commands from the control system 34 at the launch system 42, the launch system, either prior to, simultaneously with, or after the selection and loading of the projectile 38, activates the turret assembly 174 on the side of the vehicle 22 with the appropriate cannon 170 that has been designated to launch the selected projectile 38. In doing so, one or more motors drive both the rotational device and the elevational device so that the cannon muzzle attains the proper positioning with regards to the targeted location.

Once the selected projectile 38 is positioned in the pre-launch portal 174 and launch tube entry section 176, the pre-launch portal valve is closed under control of the control system. In some embodiments, the projectile 38 may be moved further up the launch tube entry section 174 or flexible launch tube in order for the pre-launch portal valve, such as the sliding door valve of FIGURES 4A-4C, to close off the pre-launch portal from the transport tube 246A. For example, in some embodiments, a quantity of lower pressure fluid from the main supply tanks 184 is directed to the launch tube entry section. When this lower pressure fluid enters into the launch tube entry section 176, the projectile 38 is lifted up into the flexible launch tube above the sliding door. Alternatively, the structure may be used to lift the projectile. In any case, as the projectile rises up the launch tube entry section 176, the sliding door can be activated by, for example, pneumatic pressure, a solenoid, etc., so that the sliding door moves across and seals the pre-launch portal 174.

Contemporaneously with the projectile 38 reaching the pre-launch portal 174, the control system 34 commands a pre-launch valve 196 to open, which releases fluid under pressure from the one or more main supply tanks 184 into the one or more pre-launch chambers 182. As soon as the one or more pre-launch chambers 182 is filled with a volume and pressure of fluid equal to the amount determined for the accurate launch of the current projectile 38 and its delivery to its targeted location, the control system 34 closes the pre-launch valve 196. After a suitable force is loaded in the one or more pre-launch chambers 182, the control system 34 operates the launch transfer valve 188, thereby releasing a fluid pressure force of sufficient magnitude and duration behind the projectile 38, which is sitting in the launch tube entry section 176 as shown in FIGURE 4C. In some embodiments, the control system 34 regulates the launch transfer valve 188 in order to provide the determined volume and/or pressure of compressed air from the one or more pre-launch chambers 182. Introduction of the fluid pressure force propels the projectile 38 rapidly through the flexible launch tube 170, down the cannon barrel, and out of the cannon muzzle toward the target location. The system operator can follow the progress of the launch and the projectile trajectory on the computer screen 70, as the system operator selects the next "real time" target or the control system selects the next queued target location and the sequence repeats itself as needed to fire the remaining selected projectiles 38.

It will be appreciated that if the projectile 38 is launching in a single selection launch in "real time" by the system operator then the cannon 160b may already by positioned on a targeted location, as will be described in more detail below regarding the targeting system 50. If the projectile 38 is part of a list of projectiles 38 in a queue to be launched in sequence then the turret assembly 164 will be activated by the control system 34 as each projectile 38 reaches the launch position and the RFID module confirms the next projectile 38 (via its RFID tag) to be launched is in position and awaiting a lift via the lifter 274 to enter the launch entry tube section 176.

Turning now to FIGURES 2 and 3, the system 20 may also include a power generation and delivery system 54. Electrical power is generated by compressors and electric generators shown in FIGURE 3 located under the operator control station. The system 54, which can be one or multiple subsystems, also include pneumatic power, hydraulic power and/or electromagnetic force generation, and supplies such power via appropriate distribution means for operation of the system 20. Likewise, the system 54 includes conventional components for the distribution of electrical power to the other components of the system. The system 20 may also include an optional refrigeration system 58. In some embodiments where the system 20 is employed in the vehicle 22, the refrigeration system 58 may include a refrigeration unit located at the rear of the vehicle. In systems which house projectiles that include temperature sensitive materials, the refrigeration unit is configured to supply cold air to the magazine carrousel. The refrigeration unit can receive power from the power system 54, and in some embodiments, can air condition the vehicle in other parts of the vehicle, such as the control station, the driver compartment, the compressors, generators, etc.

A briefly described above, the control system 34 receives targeting information from the targeting system 50. Generally described, the targeting system 50 utilizes one or more sensors and/or other data gathering technology to view, scan and/or otherwise sense the parameters of a target location, such as the distance, heat, angle, wind conditions and other particulars. In some embodiments, the targeting system 50 communicates, in real time or near real time, the collected information to the control system 34. The information can then be managed and manipulated in a fashion conducive to the aiming of the system's cannons in order to propel one or more of the projectiles at the target location. In some embodiments, the targeting system 50 includes optical telephoto or video cameras 128, infrared devices 132 and infrared sensors, laser targeting devices 130 and target designating systems, etc.

It will be appreciated that the targeting system 50 may include one or more computing devices or signal processors to provide preprocessing, filtering, etc., of the information generated by the components of the targeting system. In some embodiments, as will be described in more detail below, the one or more computing devices may additionally or alternatively process the information according to one or more target acquisition algorithms in order to determine one or more target locations. In other embodiments, the functionality can be implemented in the control system 34, such as by targeting module 124. In either case, the determined target locations can then be employed by the control system 34 to aim the launch system 42, delivering the appropriate projectile to the launch system 42 via the rack system 46, and to fire the projectile at the target location. In doing so, the targeting system 50 may employ components from other systems, such as the HMI devices.

FIGURE 24 is a functional block diagram of one example of the targeting system 50 according to aspects of the present disclosure. As briefly described above, the functionality can be carried out by the control system 34 via the targeting module 124. As best shown in FIGURE 24, the targeting system includes visual target acquisition 300. Visual target acquisition 300 may employ one or more optical sensors and/or devices, such as the telephoto camera 128, for gather optical information of both the fire location and potential target locations that will mitigate the fire with the delivery of the projectiles. In some embodiments, the targeting system 50 renders the captured view of the fire location on one section of the display, such as computer screen 70, and overlays an adjustable target crosshairs 304 that can be manipulated by the system operator via HMI input, such as a joystick or the like. The optical view of the fire in some embodiments can be obtained via telephoto or video cameras mounted on the cannons 160. In some embodiments, the telephoto cameras are calibrated and adjusted so that the adjustable target cross hairs 304 shown on the screen 70 indicate the line of site of the cannons 160.

To obtain a target location, the system operator is able to manipulate an HMI device, such as the joystick, thereby adjusting the target cross hairs 304 on the screen 70 to an object on fire. Movement of the target cross hairs 304 will activate the motors 220 of the turret assembly 164 to move the cannon barrel into the selected position indicated by the cross hairs 304. As will be described in more detail below, this may create a visual target lock by aiming the telephoto camera at the desired location and storing the coordinate information of the desired location in memory.

Visual target acquisition also employs a laser targeting system, and optionally may employ a microwave and/or sonar ranging system. The laser targeting system uses multiple laser beams from one or more laser targeting devices 130 that are focused at, or near, each visually targeted location as indicated by the crosshairs 304 on screen 70. In some embodiments, the one or more laser targeting devices 130 can be mounted beside on the telephoto camera 128 in the cannons 160. The laser targeting system is configured to obtain distance measurements, including direct measurements to an object and near target measurements in cases where the target location is obscured by smoke, fog and/or the like. As will be described in more detail below, the laser targeting system may be used to assist in the determination of smoke/particulate matter speed at the site of the fire, direct line angle of attack, etc.

Visual target acquisition 300 further employs one or more infrared devices 132 configured to provide visual heat signatures of the target location. In some embodiments, the screen 70 will render an on-screen overlay of the infrared heat signature so that a composite visual image of the actual fire (behind the visible flames and through the obscuring smoke) can be provided to the system operator. The infrared device(s) can also scan the target location (e.g., building) as directed by one or more of the HMI devices for obtaining additional information about the fire. For example, the location of heat signatures can indicate the presence of people trapped by the fire within the building. These areas may need smoke mask equipped shells to provide people trapped in the fire environment with a way to survive the smoke until help can actually reach their locations. Other appropriate equipment shells like two way radios and fire blankets may also be launched based upon the visual assessment of the situation by the system operator. Additionally, the infrared scans can provide a location of the fire which cannot be readily apparent based on the video from the telephoto camera (e.g., a fire location in the interior of the building). These areas may need barricade penetrator shells to be launched into the building so that other fire suppressant shells can reach these hidden fire locations. Further, information from the heat signatures may be used to calculate movement of heat plumes, and in turn, assist other devices, such as the telephoto cameras 304, the laser targeting system 310, etc., in calculating wind speed, etc., as described in more detail below.

The video images of the fire from the telephoto cameras 128 and/or the like can be processed in several ways to determine the best firing solution. For example, with the aid of the laser measurements indicating the distance to the target location, and/or the heat signatures from the infrared devices, the air flow/heat plumes/smoke movement can be determined. For example, since the distance is known, the video frames will convey a specific width based upon the known lensing system of the telephoto cameras and the known reticle size on screen 70. The speed of the wind at the fire location can be calculated by the motion of the smoke in the video frame and width of the video frame - thus providing a real-time airflow calculation of at/near target wind speed and direction. As will be described in more detail below, this information in the video frames can be used to update wind motion variables in the launch algorithms so that the proper pneumatic force and/or angle (e.g., rotation, elevational, etc.) of attack for the projectiles can be determined.

The targeting system 50 also includes a visual target lock 320. Actual target locations where the system operator wants to deliver projectiles can be either single or multiple locations depending upon the fire situation. By adjusting the angle of elevation and rotation of the telephoto camera 302 used in visual target acquisition, the system operator can select one target location after another via the movement of the crosshairs 304, and then can lock their locations into memory of the one or more computing devices. By selecting a visual target location, the system 20 and the target location becomes a fixed and known set of spherical coordinates of inclination and azimuth. Each spot on the building that is targeted is thus locked into the memory of the computing devices so that the turret assemblies can re-engage these locations whenever needed in the sequence of launches that are scheduled by the system operator.

The targeting system 50 further includes a sensor target lock 326. The sensor target lock 326 is based on data received and manipulated from the laser targeting system and optionally from the microwave, sonar and/or any other sensors added to the system. This data, combined with the information gathered from the telephoto cameras (from the visual target lock 320) forms the basis of a final targeting solution employed by the control system 20 to launch the selected projectile. For example, when creating a visual target lock 320, the system operator can also create a sensor target lock 326 by operating the laser targeting system 310 to deploy a target ranging beam at the target location indicated by the crosshairs on the screen 70. If the target ranging beam is able to reflect off the target location, such as a window or wall, and obtain a distance reading, it will show up on the screen 70 as a sensor target lock. The computing device can then create and store both a GPS target location data file and a spherical coordinate (azimuth, inclination, and distance) data file for storing in memory. This enables the system 20 to place the target location into a queue for an immediate or sequential firing pattern by one or both turret assemblies 164.

If the target location cannot return a distance measurement from the laser targeting system 310, a near target location scheme may be employed. For example, if the target location is obscured by smoke, fog, or clouds, the laser targeting system 310 and an approximate target designator triangulation algorithm can be employed. This target aiming technique determines the location of two or more points 328A, 328B of laser targeting locations on a building wall 330 or other reflective surface, such as a window, which are outside the area 332 obscured by fire or smoke. These points 328A, 328B of laser targeting location are calculated as to their known distances and the inclination/azimuth data from the telephoto cameras, as depicted on screen 70 in FIGURE 15. The targeting crosshairs 304 on screen 70 (and shown as 336 in FIGURE 14) representing the visual target lock 320 between the points 328 A, 328B of laser targeting create a variable which, based upon the two known distances 340A and 340B (See FIGURE 14) to the points of laser targeting locations and the size of the targeting crosshairs in relation to the known distances, can be calculated as a distance between the points 328A, 328B of laser targeting. Thus, an approximate horizontal locking position and an approximate vertical locking can be established, which in turn, creates a virtual sensor target lock, thereby allowing an accurate deployment of projectiles 38 to the obscured target location.

FIGURE 16A depicts a schematic representation of an arrangement of windows 350 of a high rise building 352. In FIGURE 16A, one or more systems 20 can transmit one or more laser beams (shown as dashed lines) at locations M on a building with a smoke obscured fire. The locations M are outside the obscured target area in which a target reading can be obtained by the laser targeting devices, and in the embodiment shown, are approximately the center of the windows 350. In some embodiments, the data obtained from one system 20 can be shared with other system 20, 20', 20" in the vicinity.

The data obtained from the one or more laser beams can be processed in accordance with another near target acquisition algorithm to determine the coordinates for the target locations marked by the X's in FIGURE 16A. For example, data obtained from the one or more laser beams can be used in conjunction with known window spacings, window sizes, etc., of the building to determine the coordinates for the target locations X. Alternatively, the data obtained from the one or more laser beams can aid in the determination of the window spacings, window sizes, etc., of the building along with other data, such as the size of the targeting crosshairs, as shown in FIGURE 16B. With the window spacing and size data, since these measurements are typical constant throughout the same building, and the distance data from the laser targeting devices, the near target acquisition algorithm can output the coordinates of the approximate centers of the windows in the obscured areas, which have been designated the target locations X.

Thus, any target location, once its angle of elevation (inclination) and rotation (azimuth) is determined by a visual target lock 22b, can be obtained - and that data combined with its known distance from the cannon as established via the use of a laser targeting system, can be accurately targeted for deployment of a projectile 38. It should be appreciated that the launch algorithms employ known ballistics calculations to deliver any weight projectile taking the basics of weight, angle of launch and distance to target to determine the proper amount of force needed to thrust the projectile to the target location via a direct launch trajectory or an arc launch trajectory.

In some examples of the system 20, the force is compressed air. As a result, the calculations may also add the various chambers of the launch system or the power delivery system that is filled with compressed air and emptied behind the projectiles 38 as the projectile 38 moves down the cannon barrel. These calculations are based upon the physical structure of the launch system 42. The calculations also take into account the type of shell and its weight. Each shell can be verified at the time of launch as to the type of projectile via its RFID tag.

Thus, after visual and sensor target lock (either direct or obscured target) are accomplished, the final targeting solution can be generated. For example, with the spherical coordinates obtained by the visual target lock and the sensor target lock, a projectile 38 is selected to be fired and the weight of the projectile (taken from RFID data as the shell is selected from the onboard inventory) is added to the variables of the launch algorithm. Then the weight of the projectile, the distance to target, and the angle of launch are employed by the launch algorithm for producing a specific force needed to deliver the selected projectile to the target location. In some embodiments, the algorithm simply uses a multi-variable look-up table stored in memory.

This force number is interpreted by the targeting system and/or the control system as a specific pressure (PSI) and volume of air pressure to be released behind the projectile 38. With this determination, compressed air from the pre-launch chambers is regulated by the launch valve 188 in order to delivery to the launch tube entry section the determined pressure and volume of air. In some embodiments, the launch algorithm adjusts the pneumatic force and volume of compressed air placed behind each projectile in order to take wind forces, heat plumes and distance to target into account for each shell launch. In other embodiment, these variables may cause an adjustment in inclination angle or azimuth angle of the cannon. In some embodiments, these variables are calculated at the time of initial target selection and then modified on-the-fly by data from sensors of the system as each shell is readied within the system for launch. The wind forces, heat plumes and distances can be determined by the processing of collected sensor data as described briefly above. In some embodiments, when the system operator finds a target location and creates a visual target lock and then a sensor target lock, either by the use of a direct target ranging or the use of either "Near Target" approximate position locking scheme, the one or more computing devices displays on the screen 70 a plurality of data about the target location and the on-board status of the launch system and the projectiles 38. This onscreen data provided to the system operator includes the shell selection status, the shell delivery timing, magazine positioning, laser ranging data, shell trajectory data, VLS GPS positioning data, onboard systems status, infrared targeting status, cannon activity status and Real-Time video tracking of projectiles.

As was described above, the launch system 50 launches one or more projectiles 38 based on information from the control system 34. The projectiles 38 can be any known or future developed projectile that can be used in fighting fires. As will be described in more detail below, examples of the projectiles that may be practiced with embodiments of the present disclosure may include but are not limited to refrigerated chemical shells, non-refrigerated chemical shells, barricade penetrator shells, and life equipment shells. The projectiles 38 can be grouped in categories based on their different and distinct fire fighting functions.

Examples of each type of projectile 38 will now be described in detail with reference to FIGURES 7A- 14. FIGURES 7A-7B illustrate several examples of projectiles in the form of refrigerated chemical shells. These shells can utilize several types of chemical mixtures to suppress fire. In some embodiments, the chemical mixture is a carbon dioxide called CO2 hydrate. In others, the chemical mixture is liquid nitrogen. CO2 hydrate is a Carbon Dioxide created under pressure (e.g., twenty atmospheres of pressure) and refrigeration creating an ice crystal format which reverts to gaseous form at the moment the compound reaches a "cross-over" temperature threshold. The CO2 hydrate transitions from a solid ice form to a rapidly expanding gas form.

FIGURE 7A illustrates one embodiment of a refrigerated chemical shell projectile 38 A. The refrigerated chemical shell projectile 38A includes an outer spherical shell body 402 that defines an internal cavity 404 suitable for housing a fire suppressing chemical mixture 406, such as C02 hydrate, liquid nitrogen, etc. In some embodiments, the chemical mixture is in solid form (e.g., C02 hydrate), and thus, the outer shell body 402 of the refrigerated chemical shell projectile 38A encapsulates a solid inner core of chemical mixture 406. In some embodiments, the outer shell body is configured to be frangible when the projectile strikes a surface. In other embodiments, the outer shell body is configured to be frangible in high temperature environments, such as close proximity to fires. In some embodiments, the outer shell body may contain liquid nitrogen in order to maintain the temperature of the CO2 hydrate inner core.

As best shown in FIGURE 9A-9C, the refrigerated chemical shell 38A is a projectile that can be launched into a window 408 or other opening to reach a fire location 410. Either upon entering the high heat location of the fire or striking a surface, such as the ceiling or floor, the frangible shell configuration breaks into pieces and allows the solid ice form of the CO2 hydrate contained inside the outer shell body to transition into a high pressure gas cloud. The gas cloud 412 of fire fighting chemical CO2 in the area it burst acts to extinguish the fire, as shown in FIGURE 9C.

Turning now to FIGURE 7B, there is shown another example of the refrigerated chemical shell 38B formed in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure. As best shown in FIGURE 7B and FIGURES 1 OA- 10E, the refrigerated chemical shell 38B includes a reinforced interior shell body 414 that defines an internal cavity 416 suitable for housing a fire suppressing chemical mixture 418, such as CO2 hydrate. Disposed over the interior shell body 414 are spherical sections 420. Of these sections, two opposes sections 420A and 420B on the upper hemisphere of the shell 38B are outwardly movable from a withdrawn position shown in FIGURE IOC, to an extended position shown in FIGURES 10A-10B. These sections 420A and 420B are sometimes referred to as winglet sections. As will be described in more detail below, the winglet sections are cooperatively configured so as to rotate the refrigerated chemical shell 38B upon contact with internal applied pressurized fluid.

The refrigerated chemical shell 38B further includes a pressure venting module, as seen in FIGURE 10E. The pressure venting module includes a tubular venting structure that is disposed at or integral to the reinforced interior shell body 414. The pressure venting module 430 includes left and right side vents 434A and 434B located under the left and right winglet sections 420A and 420B, and a bottom vent 436 located at the center bottom of the sphere. The left and right vents 434A and 434B as well as the bottom vent 436 are in fluid communication with the CO2 hydrate. As will be described in more detail below, the vents and the winglets are configured such that the expanding gas from the transition to gas CO2 is vented by the pressure venting module in a manner that utilizes the gases to both elevate and rotate the refrigerated chemical shell 38B. In some embodiments, the vents may be plugged.

When the refrigerated chemical shell 38B enters a heated environment the internal pressure from the transition to gas C02 builds rapidly within the sphere and causes the pressure plugs, if employed, within vent nozzles of the pressure venting module 430 to be ejected. This in turn ejects the internal pressurized C02 gas through the vents 434A and

434B, and 436 and directly at the left and right winglet and out the bottom of the sphere. This forces open the winglets 420A and 420B to the position shown in FIGURE 10A. In this position, continued ejected pressure streams contact the winglets 420 A and 420B, causing the refrigerated chemical shell 38B to rapidly spin about an axis, and in some embodiments, to also give it lift in conjunction with the bottom vent 436. As a result, a flying pressurized shell 38B disburses C02 in all directions around the fire area as the shell 38B spins. The bottom pressure vent 436 acts to either elevate and provide a powered flight path around the target area or if the shell is inverted it will cause the shell 38B to spin on a surface and move around the floor while spraying CO2 in all directions.

FIGURE 11 illustrate one refrigerated chemical shell 38B (left side of FIGURE 11) utilizing the controlled release of the pressurized C02 to create a spinning and aerial motion disbursing mode of deployment of the gas. Another refrigerated chemical shell 38B (right side of FIGURE 11) utilizes the controlled release of the pressurized C02 to create an inverted spinning disbursing mode of deployment of the C02 gas at the fire.

The second example of the projectile is a non-refrigerated chemical shells 38C or

NRCS 38C. As best shown in FIGURE 7C, the shell of the NRCS 38C includes an outer spherical body 450 defining an interior cavity 454 suitable for housing a fire suppressing gas 456, such as Halon, C02> etc. In the embodiment shown, the outer spherical body 450 may be formed by two hemispherical halves, such as top clam-shell half and the bottom clam-shell half, which can be placed together and sealed by a glue or microwave fusing to create the full outer spherical body 450. The outer spherical body 450 can be a frangible plastic capable containing the internal pressure of a compressed gas such as C02 or Halon. Upon an impact in a heat environment, like a fire situation, or just rolling into a fire, the NRCS 38C will have its outer wall weaken and burst, releasing the contents of the projectile in a rapid dispersion. Similar to the refrigeration chemical shell 38 A, the NRCS 38C can enter a fire and either fragment from an impact or from exposure to the fire.

In some embodiments, the NRCS 38C includes a tubular support 460, which extends from the top to the bottom of the sphere. The tubular support 460 includes an exterior injection port 464 and internal outlets 466 that communicate with the interior cavity 454 of the NRCS 38C. The NRCS 38C further includes a fill valve 470, which in one embodiment, is a ball-type valve. The ball type valve includes a spring 474 fixed within the tubular column support and is configured to apply a biasing force against a ball 476 in order to seal the inner cavity 454 from the exterior opening 464 of the tubular column support. The NRCS 38C further includes a set of three, spaced apart radial supports 478 attached at the midpoint of the tubular support and extending radially outwardly to the outer walls of the shell body 450. As such, the interior cavity 454 is contiguous. As was briefly described above, an RFID tag 480 or the like may be positioned within the NRCS 38C. The RFID tag 480 may include data of the projectile such as weight, type, etc. Other supports, reinforcement structure or the like may be employed within the NRCS 38C.

The NRCS 38C in some embodiments can be loaded with fire suppression chemicals, such as Halon, CO2 or other compressible gas or liquid fire suppressants by using a loading wand 480 shown in FIGURES 8A-8B. The loading wand 480 includes a fluid hose 482 couplable to a pressurized fluid source (not shown). At the other end, the fluid hose is coupled to a loading wand handle 484 and loading needle 486. The loading needle 486 is coupled in fluid communication with the fluid hose, and includes a one or more outlet ports 490 where pressurized liquid exits from the loading needle 486. The loading wand 480 may further include valve 492 positioned along the fluid hose 482 in order to control the delivery of pressurized fluid to the loading needle 486.

To load NRCS 38C, a sealing stopper (not shown) is removed from the exterior injection port 464 at the top of the sphere body 250, and the loading needle 486 is inserted therein. As the loading needle 486 is inserted, the loading needle contacts ball 476, and in turn, forces the spring 474 to compress downward inside the support column 460. The full linear insertion of the loading needle 486 causes the ball 476 to move downward in the support column 460 past the internal outlets 466, causing the internal outlets 466 to be in fluid communication with the fluid hose 482. The valve 492 is then opened, causing pressurized fluid to be delivered from the fluid source to the loading needle 486, and into the interior cavity 454 of the NRCS 38C via the interior outlets 466. After the interior cavity 454 is filled to the desired or maximum loading state, the loading wand 480 is removed from the tubular support 460 and the sealing stopper is re-inserted into the exterior injection port 464. Removal of the loading wand 480 causes the ball 476 to move upwardly to seal the interior cavity 454 from the exterior injection port 464 by the force of the spring 474.

The third example of the projectile 38 is the barricade penetrator shell 38D, as best shown in FIGURE 7D. In embodiments of the present disclosure, the barricade penetrator shell 38D may have two different configuration: [1] a solid barricade penetrator shell and [2] a frangible barricade penetrator shell. The function of the barricade penetrator shell is to impact a barrier surface, such as a window, floor, ceiling, wall, etc., and create an opening in that barrier surface for other projectiles, such as shells 38A-38C and 38E, to be able to traverse the opening and gain access to an interior of the fire.

The solid barricade penetrator shell, as shown in FIGURE 7D, is a sphere projectile configured to stay intact after impact with, and penetration of, a barrier surface. The solid barricade penetrator shell 38D optionally can have an outer external shell body 502, which can be made of, but whose construction is not limited to, wax , a thin plastic or metal. The core 506 of the solid barricade penetrator shell 38D can be of a solid material like concrete, metal, plastic, or other material(s) of proper weight and hardness to sustain the impact and deliver the kinetic energy for creating an opening in the barrier surface. The solid barricade penetrator shell 38D also can be of a non-solid material core 506 like a liquid, sand or other fragmented materials if the external shell 502 of the solid barricade penetrator shell 38D is rugged enough to contain the fragmented non-solid core upon impact.

On the other hand, the frangible barricade penetrator shell, as shown in FIGURES 12C-12E, is a sphere projectile configured to impact a barrier surface 510 and penetrate the barrier surface 510. The frangible barricade penetrator shell is further configured to break open after delivering its kinetic energy and deliver its contents to the area just past the impact location of the barrier surface 510. The frangible barricade penetrator shell includes an outer external shell 514 made of, but whose construction is not limited to, wax or a thin plastic. The core 518 of the frangible barricade penetrator shell can be a material like, but not limited to, sand, powdered fire suppressant, liquid fire suppressant or other material(s) of proper weight to deliver the kinetic energy for creating an opening in the barrier surface 510, as well as to provide some fire mitigation in the area adjacent thereto.

In use, the frangible barricade penetrator shell may have a flight path 520 that approaches a contact point with a glass barrier surface 510, as shown in FIGURE 12C. Upon impact, as shown in FIGURE 12D, the frangible barricade penetrator shell breaks open the barrier surface 510 and its external shell 514 starts to break apart allowing the internal frangible component 518 to start to disburse. As the frangible barricade penetrator shell continues to penetrate the opening in the barrier surface 310, the frangible barricade penetrator shell continues to further break open the barrier surface 510 and its external shell 514 continues to break apart allowing the internal frangible component 518 to fully disburse, thereby providing some form of fire mitigation in the area adjacent to the opening in the barrier surface.

The fourth example of a projectile 38 that may be practiced with embodiments of the present disclosure is the life equipment shell 38E (or LES 38E). The various types of LES 38E are designed to deliver aid to people trapped in fire situations where firemen may not be able to reach because of fire or because the location in which they are trapped is otherwise inaccessible. Statistics show that more than 90% of people who die in fires die from smoke inhalation and not from actual exposure to heat or flames. The LES 38E is designed to deliver one or more types of aid to these victims of a fire. The types of equipment carried by the LES 38E include, but are not limited to, smoke masks, the fire blankets, first aid equipment, communications devices, lights, audible sound generators, etc., and combinations thereof.

One example of the LES 38E will now be described in more detail with reference to FIGURE 7E. As best shown in FIGURE 7E, the LES 38E includes an outer body comprised of two hemispherical clam shell halves 528A, 528B, which are connected together by a spring loaded hinge 534 and maintained in a closed position via a latch 538 (see FIGURE 13C). In some embodiments, the latch may be part of an impact lock opening system configured to un-latch the clam shell halves upon impact and/or one or two rolls of the LES 38E on the floor, which in turn, allows the spring loaded hinge 534 to cause an automatic opening motion of the of the LES 38E to the configuration shown in FIGURES 7E and 13C. In one embodiment, the impact lock opening system includes a side impact lock receiver unit 542 that interfaces with an impact lock post unit 544. In some embodiments of the LES 38E, one of the claim halves may function as an interior compartment section for housing life saving equipment 548. As mentioned above, the life saving equipment can be smoke masks, fire blankets, first aid equipment, communications devices, etc. For example, an LES 38E carrying a smoke mask can be launched into a smoke location of a fire where people are trapped in an environment where smoke may be a dangerous to their health and even their life. In another example, an LES 38E carrying a fire blanket and/or first aid supplies can be launched into a fire location where people are trapped in environment where direct heat and flames from a fire are present. In yet another example, an LES 38E carrying communications devices, such as two way radios, can be launched into the location of a fire where people are trapped and where they need to communicate their situation to the fire department or other rescue service engaged in their rescue. As assembled, the life saving equipment 548 sits within the interior compartment and can be attached thereto by a pull release (Velcro or other simple connection not shown).

Additionally, the interior compartment of the other clam shell half may in some embodiments house a light and sound module 556. The light and sound module 556 may be configured with a high powered light source 560 and speakers 562. In some embodiments, additional lights 566 are located on the exterior of the clam-shell body. For example, a set of, for example, three lights can be located on each calm shell half such that one light is facing at ninety degrees on all three sides of each exterior of the clam-shell body. The lights may be operated as strobe lights to direct attention to the LES 38E. In use, the light and sound module 556 is configured to create one or more areas of upward illumination that can attract the visual attention of anyone nearby, even in a smoke environment. In some embodiments, the lights illuminate areas all around the sides of the clam shell halves to provide a lateral visual attention garnering effect to lead people to the LES 38E. The light and sound module 556 may also be configured to provide an alternating combination of a loud audible audio alarm and a voice alert sound from the speakers 392, which alerts people to the availability of the life saving equipment as well as provides quick and concise instructions as to how to remove the equipment and use it in the fire and/or smoke environment. In some embodiments, the light and sound module 556 is activated upon un-latching of the LES 38E, via a switch, sensor, or the like. As shown in FIGURE 13B and 13B, the LES 38E is in a flight path 572 of a final entry trajectory 574 about to impact the floor 576 of a room with a fire. Upon impact and/or one or two rolls of the LES 38E on the floor 576, the impact lock opening system can cause the impact lock receiver unit 542 to release its locking hold on the impact lock post unit 544 allowing the spring loaded hinge 534 to cause an automatic opening of the LES 38E. The LES 38E may be weighted more on the equipment side so as to facilitate an upright positioning of the projectile. Upon opening, the light and sound module 556 may begin to operate as described above.

FIGURES 17A-D illustrate another example of a fire fighting system 20' employed in a handtruck 30. The system is substantially similar in construction and operation as the system 20 described above except for the differences that will now be explained. The system, also referred to as a portable launch system (PLS) 20', utilizes a simple gravity feed portable magazine 704 or "hopper system" of approximately forty- five projectiles 38. The projectiles 38 are loaded to the magazine 704 and the magazine is inserted into the PLS 20' where the activation of the firing control advances the next projectile in the magazine. Swapping out different magazines is envisions for the launching of different projectile types. Alternatively, a pre-set sequence of projectiles can be loaded into the portable magazine. A more sophisticated magazine can be achieved with control over the various columns of projectiles 38 in the magazine. In some embodiments, the magazine can be thermally insulated to achieve temperature stability for the time the projectiles 38 are disposed in the magazine prior to launch.

As shown in FIGURES 17B and 17C, the propulsion system or force generator of the PLS, for example, is three main pressure tanks 708 of highly compressed gas, such as air. The main tanks are accessible at the rear of the main body of the PLS via a tank loading hatch, shown closed in FIGURE 17A and open in FIGURES 17B and 17C.

The physical size gives the PLS the ability to be moved when it is packed for travel and has its transport cover in place, as shown in FIGURE 17D. The PLS can be moved by one man and enables the PLS to be taken, as shown in FIGURES 20 and 21, by its operator into a building and onto rooftops where the PLS can launch projectiles 38 at targeted locations in nearby structures. The PLS includes wheels 710 on its main body and can be rolled and maneuvered within elevators and stairwells using an integral hand grip 712. The integral hand grips 712 may also function as a support footing when the PLS is in its operational configuration as shown in FIGURES 17A, 17B and 17C. In its operational mode, the transport cover 716 is removed to allow the PLS operator to unfold and then sit in the operator chair 720 at the rear of the PLS. When seated in the operator chair, the operator has access to the control grips 724 which are connected to the control pylon 726 that connects to the main PLS body via the support pylon 728 on which the azimuth and inclination mount 730 are located under the portable magazine 704. The control screen 734 can be mounted directly adjacent to and behind the magazine 140 and in front of the operator when the operator sits in the chair. Using electronic controls in the control grips 724, the operator can manipulate a control in the control pylon 145, as shown in FIGURE 17B, to raise or lower the inclination of the cannon tube via the inclination mount as well as control the azimuth of the cannon 160 via the azimuth mount to provide a full targeting location capability for aiming the PLS.

The PLS 20' includes one or more computing devices (hidden in the FIGURES), which can be stored under the operator chair, and is connected to the control screen 734, control grips 724 and laser targeting system 130 and optical targeting system 128 mounted on the cannon 160.

The electrical power for the control and motion of the PLS 120 is supplied by an on-board electric generator 740 and fuel tank mounted, for example, in the forward section of the main body. As shown in FIGURE 17B, the operator, using the control grips 724, can utilize the one or more computing devices and its launch control software to control the motion of the control in the control pylon to adjust the aim of the cannon using the inclination mount and the azimuth mount 730. The operator 143 can then load the next projectile 38 using a rotating load chamber which accepts a projectile 38 from the magazine and rotates it into the cannon breach. The one or more computing devices calculates the firing solution based upon the targeted location and releases high pressure compressed pneumatic force via the pre-launch valve from the main pressure tanks 708 into a high pressure connector pipe and loads the pre-launch chamber (not shown in the FIGURES) with the proper pneumatic force calculated by the one or more computing devices for the accurate delivery of the selected projectile 38. When the operator presses the "fire" button on his control grips 724, the launch valve releases the pneumatic force from the pre-launch chamber, which propels the projectile 38 from the cannon breach down the cannon barrel and onward to the targeted location.

FIGURE 18A illustrates another example of a fire fighting system 20" employed in an aircraft 24. The system 20" is substantially similar in construction and operation as the system 20 described above except for the differences that will now be explained. The system 20", also referred to as an airborne launcher system 20" or ALS 20" is a modular device that can be attached to the underside of a helicopter 24. The system is not limited to helicopter 24 and could be built to be used by fixed wing aircraft, both integral to the fuselage and as an under airframe attachment system.

In the ALS 20", the rack or loading system 804 is horizontally mounted with two levels of projectiles 38 and having the ability to rotate a plurality (e.g., six) of reloadable transport tubes 806 to a loading position within each side of the rack system, as best shown in FIGURES 18B and 18C. The loading system 804 can hold as many as 20 projectiles, for example, per transport tube 806 with a corresponding number of rack system slots for transport tubes. Some of the projectiles 38 may require a stable and refrigerated temperature. In this regard, the main body 810 of the ALS 20", in one embodiment, is built with a double wall system with a vacuum between the walls making the interior of the ALS 20" like a "thermos bottle." A liquid nitrogen dispensing system (not show) can be disposed at the forward section of the main body, where it is controlled by the one or more computing devices as it monitors the internal temperature of the main body 810. When the temperature inside the main body of the ALS approaches a pre-set allowable maximum internal temperature (well below the danger point for the thermally sensitive projectiles 38), the liquid nitrogen dispensing system releases a small volume of the gas to restore the refrigerated temperature inside the ALS main body.

The rack system 804 utilizes an electro-mechanical projectile loading system 804 which utilizes a stepper motor 814 to move and position the transport tubes 806 as instructed by the operator. The one or more computing devices 820 control the advancement of the projectiles 38 down the length of each transport tube 806 via the use of pusher plates 824 linked to stepper motors 814 on the rack system. As shown in FIGURE 18B, the pusher plates 824 are in an advanced position in the transport tubes, thereby feeding cannons 160 A "A" and "B.

The power systems of the ALS may include high pressure air cylinders 830 of highly compressed air or other gas which use electronic tank valves 832 to release high pressure pneumatic force to the pneumatics system 836. The pneumatics system 836 can be controlled and regulated to provide accurate pressure at higher volume to achieve the launch speed and power indicated for each projectile 38, as determined by the targeting system and control system. Two air tanks 830 are shown in the drawings can be oversized and extended versions of the standard "D" type cylinder but could also utilize small and more multiples of standard cylinders with 3000+ psi. The high pressure air cylinders 830 can be recharged in place or removed via the air cylinder reloading or refilling hatch. The electrical power for systems operations comes from a replaceable and rechargeable battery 840 situated in the front of the ALS under the computer system of one or more computing devices 820, as shown in FIGURE 18C.

The one or more computing devices 820 operates the control panel 840, on the end of the cable 842, from inside the helicopter cockpit to adjust each cannon using the aiming step motor 848 to aim the telephoto camera 128 and the laser targeting system 130, as shown in FIGURE 18C, to locate and designate a targeting location for the establishment of a visual target lock and then a sensor target lock. The operator can view all the data and video image with targeting cross hairs on the screen of the control panel 840. Once the targeted locations are established, the one or more computing devices can use the launch software between the sensors to calculate the proper high pressure pneumatic force to deliver the projectile 38 to the targeted location over the distance determined by the laser targeting system and taking into account the force of the helicopter downward "rotor wash". The one or more computing devices 820 then utilize the stepper motor 814 to rotate and position the proper transport tubes 806 into the proper position for loading the selected cannon as well as advance the pusher plate 824 (in the selected transport tubes) to move the selected projectile 38 down the transport tubes and into the proper loading position so as to enter the rotational loading mechanism and advance the rotational loading mechanism 856 from the loaded position to the firing position. The operator then confirms the target lock and activates the launching sequence which causes the pneumatics system 836 to open the tank valve 832 to allow the high pressure pneumatic force to enter the regulator 860 and cause the projectile 38 to propel down the cannon at the designated targeted location.

The three illustrated embodiments of the present disclosure can form a multi- faceted system for addressing fires that has independent and joint use scenarios. FIGURE 20 shows multiple systems, such as VLS 20, ALS 20", and PLS 20*) in a fire battle scenario involving a high rise building 910 with a narrow street 914 between it and another building 920. The various systems are being used on the ground (VLS 20), in the air (ALS 20"), inside buildings (PLS 20') against targeted locations on other buildings as well as being used intra-building to fight fires on those floors. All units are launching chemical shell projectiles 38A-D and launching LES 38E projectiles with life saving equipment such as smoke masks, fire blankets, communications equipment, etc., to people trapped in the fire.

FIGURES 21 A and 2 IB show two alternate fire fighting scenarios using the

VLS 20 at the scene and the ALS 20" at the scene. FIGURE 21 A shows a mountain area where a building 930 and forest 932 are on fire. The ALS 20" and VLS 20 are using direct trajectory launch 940and arc trajectory launch 942 to deliver chemical shells 38 to their targeted locations through the use of the targeting system. FIGURE 2 IB shows an ocean fire battle scenario with both a ship 950 and an oil platform 952 involved in a fire. An ALS 20" and VLS 20 (on vessel 26) are using direct trajectory launch 960 and arc trajectory launch 964 to deliver chemical and equipment shells 38 to their targeted locations.

As briefly mentioned above, the multiple systems, such as VLS 20, ALS 20", and PLS 20', shown in FIGURE 20 and 21A-21B can communicate via a communications interface for the transmission, reception, and exchanged of information regarding the fire, a fire fighting strategy, and the components of each system, such as from the targeting system. In some embodiments, the multiple systems at the scene of the fire can coordinate to battle a fire location within the scene according to a prioritized list. Alternatively, one or more of the systems can be assigned to battle a fire location at the scene that may have a lower priority, etc.

From the foregoing examples, many benefits and advantages of the systems and methods set forth herein can be realized, including among others:

1. The ability to fight fires at a distance where fire fighters and their conventional equipment cannot adequately address the fire;

2. The ability to deliver a multiplicity of fire suppressant chemicals in rapid succession and sequence while operating at a distance;

3. The ability to protect fire fighters from having to get too close to many hazardous situations such as, but not limited to, extreme heat, noxious fumes and smoke, explosive materials and radiation - while still having the ability to deliver various types of fire suppressants or equipment to the fire location;

4. The ability to deliver a multiplicity of life saving or life sustaining equipment packages to people trapped in fire environments at a time when fire fighter cannot reach those people by any other conventional means. These shells can contain, but are not limited to, smoke masks, communications gear, escape lighting, ropes and rappelling gear, escape tools, burn blankets, 1st aid kits and drinking water.

5. The modular ability of the system to utilize the system from vehicles, with portable units inside or atop buildings and from aircraft. This modular ability enables the use of the system in multiple types of fire fighting scenarios and locations - both urban and rural.

6. The ability to utilize one system to combat multiple types of fire scenarios such as, but not limited to high rise building fires, forest fires, multiple location urban fires caused by riots or natural catastrophe, fast moving grassland fires, oil rig fires both on land and at sea, ship fires, airport/airplane fire scenarios, ammunition depot and nuclear facility fires.

7. The ability to deliver shells to the exterior, near window locations or deep within a burning structure or area.

8. The ability to precisely target the location of the delivery of shells via the use of, but not limited to, laser ranging, infrared targeting, and optical targeting systems.

9. The ability to select various fire suppressant delivery methodologies within the fire location. These include, but are not limited to spraying, bursting, and controlled and timed distribution of solids, liquids and gaseous fire suppressants.

10. The ability to selectively target and deliver fire suppressants into a fire situation so that various effects can be created or maintained within the fire fighting scenario. These include but are not limited to, the creation and maintenance of escape pathways for civilians and fire fighters in multiple enclosed and open ground fire scenarios, the creation of fire breaks in grassland or forest fire scenarios, the ability to create a chemical "fire line" to halt or deflect the advance of wild fires without deploying hundreds of fire fighters into harms way, and the ability to air burst, ground burst or spray fire suppressants - or any combination of delivery methodologies - to achieve desired situational control of a fire scenario.

11. The ability to deliver specialized chemical shells such as, but not limited to, liquid nitrogen shells for the purpose of quickly - and at a great distance - a) rapidly cooling down nuclear reactor fires and cooling rod situations which cannot be addressed by conventional water hose systems due to the danger from radiation at a close distance to the situation; b) deliver cooling to high heat situations on oil rigs and other locations in danger of collapse from high temperatures affecting the very composition of the steel superstructure of the location. Chemical explosive shells can be designed to literally "Blow Out" fires at the "well head" per the example set by the famous oil well fire fighter "Red Adair". By launching the shells with detonation systems activated by the intense heat of the well head fire, the fire crews do not have to get in a position to physically place the explosives and risk death by their accidental detonation prior to the proper time. Multiple VLS, ALS or PLS units could coordinate multiple shell detonations simultaneously to knock out a well head fire.

12. The ability to rapidly reload the system launchers and quickly re-engage multiple fire target locations. Due to the modular nature of the system's shells and launchers, they can not only be rapidly deployed at a fire scene but can also be quickly reloaded. Convention airborne systems often take 10 to 30 minutes to drop their water or chemical load, and go back to a lake or base location to reload and fly back to the fire scene. The ALS (Airborne Launch system) of the Invention can land anywhere near the fire and have it Chemical Shell magazines reloaded in a matter of moments and return to selectively target a fire, especially a high rise building where "dumping" chemicals or water by tire fighting aircraft (especially helicopters) has proven very ineffective in the past.

The principles, representative embodiments, and modes of operation of the present disclosure have been described in the foregoing description. However, aspects of the present disclosure which are intended to be protected are not to be construed as limited to the particular embodiments disclosed. Further, the embodiments described herein are to be regarded as illustrative rather than restrictive. It will be appreciated that variations and changes may be made by others, and equivalents employed, without departing from the spirit of the present disclosure. Accordingly, it is expressly intended that all such variations, changes, and equivalents fall within the spirit and scope of the present disclosure.

Claims

CLAIMS The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:
1. A system, comprising:
one or more computing devices configured to transmit control instructions;
a plurality of projectiles;
a launch system including a projectile cannon and a turret assembly, the turret assembly configured to move the projectile cannon in both azimuth and inclination directions based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices;
a loading system including a magazine configured to store the plurality of projectiles, the magazine movable in order to deliver a selected projectile to a launch position and operable to load the selected projectile in the launch system based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices; and
a propulsion force generator configured to apply a pressurized fluid to the projectile when the projectile is in the launch system to propel the projectile out of the cannon based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices.
2. The system of Claim 1, wherein the propulsion force generator is configured to provide a pressurized fluid adjustable in magnitude and duration.
3. The system of Claim 1, wherein the pressurized fluid includes compressed gas.
4. The system of Claim 3, wherein the propulsion force generator includes one or more pre-launch chambers configured to hold an amount of compressed gas at a variable pressure and volume.
5. The system of Claim 4, wherein the one or more pre-launch chambers are charged with an amount of compressed gas at a pressure and volume determined to propel the selected projectile to a target location, wherein the pressure and volume are determined by the one or more computing devices based on input from a targeting system.
6. The system of Claim 5, wherein the propulsion force generator further includes
one or more main supply tanks configured to store an excess amount of compressed gas at pressures higher than the determined pressure of the pre-launch chambers; and
a pre-launch valve configured to conditionally charge the one or more pre-launch chambers with compressed gas from the one or more main supply tanks with at least the determined pressure and volume.
7. The system of Claim 4, wherein one or more computing devices are configured to determine the launch variables of the propulsion force generator based on input from a targeting system and characteristics of the selected projectile.
8. The system of Claim 7, wherein the launch variables are pressure and volume.
9. The system of Claim 8, wherein the propulsion force generator further includes
one or more main supply tanks configured to store an excess volume of compressed gas at pressures higher than the determined pressure of the pre-launch chambers;
one or more compressors configured to conditionally supply compressed gas to the one or more main supply tanks;
a pre-launch valve configured to conditionally charge the one or more pre-launch chambers with compressed gas from the one or more main supply tanks with at least the determined volume and the determined pressure; and
a launch valve configured to conditionally deliver the compressed gas from the one or more pre-launch chambers to the launch system and to regulate the volume of the compressed gas delivery to the launch system based on instructions from the one or more computing device to equal the determined volume of compressed gas.
10. The system of Claim 4, wherein one or more computing devices are configured to determine the launch variables of the propulsion force generator, wherein the launch variables are based on data indicative of one or more of weight of the selected projectile, angle of the projectile cannon, distance from the target location, and wind speed.
11. The system of Claim 5, further including a compressed air distribution arrangement coupled to the one or more main supply tanks, the compressed air distribution arrangement configured to conditionally deliver compressed gas to one of: the loading system in order to load the selected projectile to the launch system; and
the launch system in order to position the projectile such that the launch system can be de-coupled from fluid communication with the loading system via a valve.
12. The system of Claim 1, wherein the loading system includes a plurality of transport tubes configured to store a plurality of projectiles.
13. The system of Claim 12, wherein each of the plurality of transport tubes stores the same type of projectile.
14. The system of Claim 12, wherein each of the plurality of transport tubes stores different types of projectiles.
15. The system of Claim 12, wherein the one or more computing devices transmits control instructions to move one of the plurality of transport tubes carrying a selected projectile to a launch position based on projectile tracking information.
16. The system of Claim 15, wherein the projectile tracking information is generated by an RFID system and is stored in the one or more computing devices.
17. The system of Claim 12, wherein the plurality of transport tubes are configured to move within a track configured to guide the transport to a launch position and a reload position.
18. The system of Claim 17, wherein the configuration of the track is serpentine.
19. The system of Claim 1, wherein the plurality of projectiles are selected from a group consisting of a refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a non- refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a barricade penetrator shell, and a life equipment carrying shell.
20. The system of Claim 19, wherein the refrigerated chemical shells include one of carbon dioxide hydrate and liquid nitrogen.
21. The system of Claim 19, wherein the non-refrigerated chemical shells include one of halon and carbon dioxide.
22. The system of Claim 19, wherein the barricade penetrator shell includes one of solid core and an outer shell and a frangible inner core.
23. The system of Claim 22, wherein the solid core includes material or materials selected from a group consisting of concrete, metal, and plastic, and the frangible inner core includes material or materials selected from a group consisting of sand, liquid, and powdered fire suppression chemicals.
24. The system of Claim 19, wherein the life equipment shells are configured to carry life sustaining equipment selected from the group consisting of a smoke mask, a fire blanket, a first aid kit, a water container, and a two way radio.
25. The system of Claim 24, wherein the life equipment shells further include one of a light source and an audible source.
26. The system of Claim 24, wherein the life equipment shells are configured to open upon contact with a barrier surface, and wherein the light source or the audible source is activated upon opening of the life equipment shells.
27. The system of Claim 25, wherein the audible source includes one of safety information regarding the fire and equipment usage directions.
28. The system of Claim 19, wherein the refrigerated chemical shells include one of a bursting chemical shell and spinning chemical shell.
29. The system of Claim 28, wherein the spinning chemical shell includes carbon dioxide hydrate and is configured to employ the expanding carbon dioxide gas once transitioned from the carbon dioxide hydrate to spin the chemical shell or elevated and spin chemical shell.
30. The system of Claim 29, wherein the spinning chemical shell includes two opposing winglets and two vents disposed near the opposing winglets, the two vents configured to direct the expanding carbon dioxide gas at the winglets, whereby contact with the winglets causes spinning of the chemical shell.
31. The system of Claim 1, further comprising a targeting system configured to acquire a target location and generate coordinates corresponding thereto.
32. The system of Claim 31 , wherein the targeting system includes
one or more cameras configured to capture images from a fire location;
one or more laser targeting systems configured to determine the distance from the cannon of the launch system and a target location.
33. The system of Claim 32, wherein the targeting system further includes an infrared device configured to generate heat signature information of the fire location.
34. The system of Claim 33, wherein the one or more computing devices are configured to determine wind speed at the fire location based on information from one or more of the one or more cameras, the one or more laser targeting systems, and the infrared device.
35. The system of Claim 31, wherein the propulsion force generator is controlled based on information from the targeting system.
36. The system of Claim 32, wherein the target location is determined based on locations near the fire location, wherein the locations near the fire locations are obtained via the laser targeting system, wherein the target location is determined based on information obtained from the laser targeting system regarding the locations near the fire and information from the one or more video cameras.
37. The system of Claim 31 , wherein the targeting system is configured to acquire a visual target representing the target location;
obtain a visual target lock on the target location; and obtain a sensor target lock on the target location.
38. The system of Claim 37, wherein the propulsion force generator is controlled based on information from the targeting system.
39. The system of Claim 37, wherein targeting system further comprises one or more cameras configured to capture images from a fire location; and
wherein the visual target lock is obtained by aiming the one or more cameras on the target location, the visual target lock indicative of azimuth and inclination measurements of the target location.
40. The system of Claim 37, wherein targeting system further comprises one or more distance determining devices configured to determine distance from the cannon to the a reflective object; and
wherein the sensor target lock is obtained by aiming the one or more distance determining devices at the target location and obtaining a distance from the canon to one of the target location and near the target location, the sensor target lock indicative of a distance measurement of the target location.
41. A fire fighting system, comprising:
one or more computing devices configured to transmit control instructions;
a plurality of projectiles configured to assist in fire fighting, wherein the plurality of projectiles include two or more types of projectiles selected from a group consisting of a refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a non-refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a barricade penetrator shell, and a life equipment carrying shell;
a launch system comprising a launch tube and means for moving the launch tube in both azimuth and inclination directions based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices;
a loading system configured to store the plurality of projectiles and to deliver a selected projectile to the launch system based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices; and
a non-explosive propulsion force generator configured to apply a non-explosive force to the selected projectile when the projectile is in the launch tube to propel the projectile out of the launch tube based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices.
42. A system for fighting fires, comprising:
one or more computing devices configured to transmit control instructions;
a plurality of fire suppressing projectiles;
a targeting system configured to acquire a target location and generate coordinates corresponding thereto, wherein the targeting system includes one or more cameras configured to capture images from a fire location, and one or more distance determining systems configured to determine the distance from the cannon of the launch system and a target location.
a launch system comprising a launch tube, wherein the launch system is configured to aim the launch tube in both azimuth and inclination directions based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices or input from the targeting system;
a loading system configured to store the plurality of projectiles and to deliver a selected projectile to the launch system based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices; and
a propulsion force generator configured to apply a compressed gas of a determined volume and pressure to the projectile when the projectile is in the launch system to propel the projectile out of the launch tube based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices.
43. The system of Claim 42, wherein the targeting system is configured to: acquire a visual target representing the target location; obtain a visual target lock on the target location; and obtain a sensor target lock on the target location.
44. The system of Claim 42, wherein one or more computing devices are configured to determine the pressure and volume of the propulsion force generator based on input from a targeting system and characteristics of the selected projectile; and wherein the propulsion force generator includes
one or more pre-launch chambers conditionally coupled in fluid communication with the launch tube; one or more main supply tanks configured to store a compressed gas at an excess pressure and volume;
a pre-launch valve configured to conditionally charge the one or more pre-launch chambers with compressed gas from the one or more main supply tanks; and
a launch valve configured to conditionally deliver the compressed gas from the one or more pre-launch chambers to the launch tube and to regulate the volume and/or pressure of the compressed gas delivered to the launch tube based on instructions from the one or more computing device.
45. A system, comprising:
a plurality of fire suppressing projectiles;
a launch tube movable in azimuth and inclination;
a targeting system configured to acquire a target location;
a loading system configured to store the plurality of projectiles and to deliver a selected projectile to the launch system;
a non-explosive propulsion force generator configured to deliver a non-explosive force to the projectile in the launch tube to propel the projectile out of the launch cannon; one or more computing devices including
one or more processors;
one or more computer program products including executions that when executed by one or more processors causes the one or more computing devices to: obtain a target location from the targeting system and generate coordinates corresponding thereto;
direct the loading system to deliver a selected projectile to the launch tube; aim the launch tube in accordance with the coordinates of the target location; and
determine a non-explosive propulsion force suitable for propelling the selected projectile from the launch tube over to the target location; and
deliver the non-explosive propulsion force to the launch tube.
46. A control system, comprising:
a plurality of sensors;
one or more operator controlled input devices; a display;
one or more computing devices coupled in communication with the display, the one or more sensors and the one or more operator controlled input devices; wherein the one or more computing devices include
one or more processors;
memory;
program instructions stored in the memory, wherein the program instructions, when executed by one or more processors, cause the one or more computing devices to:
sequentially obtain a plurality of target locations via input generated by the one of more input devices from fire locations rendered on the display;
obtain spherical coordinate data corresponding to the plurality of target locations in part by information generated by one or sensors of the plurality of sensors;
obtain information indicative of a type of projectile to be launch at each target location;
locate the projectiles in a loading system based on inventory information generated by one or more sensors of the plurality of sensors and link the spherical coordinate data of the projectiles with the selected projectile for each target location;
determine data indicative of a non-explosive propulsion force suitable for propelling each selected projectile to its corresponding target location based on the spherical coordinate data and projectile data;
associate the determined data indicative of the non-explosive propulsion force with the linked spherical coordinate data of each selected projectiles for each sequential target location; and
store the associated data as a firing solution file in memory.
47. The control system of Claim 46, wherein the program instructions, when executed by one or more processors, further cause the one or more computing devices to carry out the firing solution to:
sequentially aim one or more launch tubes in accordance with the spherical coordinates of the target locations; sequentially deliver the selected projectile to the launch tube; and sequentially deliver the non-explosive propulsion force to the launch for launching each projectile at its corresponding target location.
48. The control system of Claim 47, wherein the firing solution, when carried out by the one or more computing devices, is modified based on real time or near real time data geneterating by one or more sensors for the plurality of sensors.
49. The control system of Claim 48, wherein the modification to the firing solution includes one of modification of the generated non-explosive propulsion force and modification of the spherical coordinates of the target locations.
50. A combination comprising;
two or more fire fighting systems at a fire location; each of the two of more fire fighting systems including
one or more computing devices configured to transmit control instructions; a plurality of projectiles configured to assist in fire fighting, wherein the plurality of projectiles include two or more types of projectiles selected from a group consisting of a refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a non-refrigerated fire suppression chemical shell, a barricade penetrator shell, and a life equipment carrying shell;
a launch system comprising a launch tube and means for moving the launch tube in both azimuth and inclination directions based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices;
a loading system configured to store the plurality of projectiles and to deliver a selected projectile to the launch system based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices; and
a non-explosive propulsion force generator configured to apply a non- explosive force to the selected projectile when the projectile is in the launch tube to propel the projectile out of the launch tube based on control instructions from the one or more computing devices; and
a communications interface configured for two way radio communication; wherein the two or more fire fighting systems exchange data based on the fire location and generate a fire combating strategy for cooperatively combating fires at the fire location.
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