A first: a sniffing drone in search of toxic substances

Toxic substances are sometimes released in the event of a fire, creating a dangerous situation. Together with Saxion and Robor Electronics, the Twente Fire Brigade developed a sniffing drone that measures air quality while flying. This smart development stimulates and boosts other innovations in the (national) fire brigade.

In short

  • Rapid detection of toxic substances in a fire, for example, provides knowledge of the situation
  • The sniffing drone of the Twente Fire Brigade measures air substances and stores samples that can be used as forensic evidence
  • The sniffing drone is a pilot in Twente and fits within the innovative trend of using more and more drones in the fire brigade

Global Goal

global goal icon
Pilots with drones

The possibilities of using drones in the fire brigade are endless. They can assist the fire brigade in detecting, monitoring and combating fires, tracing chemical substances or finding drowning or drowned people. A few regions have conducted pilots to gain experience with drones. For these pilots, the fire brigade has been granted exemptions to be able to fly closer to crowds, above buildings, industrial objects and infrastructure. The Twente fire brigade conducted a pilot with a so-called sniffing drone, with which dangerous substances can be detected in smoke.


The new drone was demonstrated to dozens of people on the Safety Campus at the Twente airport. Several corps from other regions were present, as well as a German corps. Much interest in the Twente drone has been gained.

Flying detection dog

It is better to detect hazardous substances in smoke in the air than on the ground. Toxic fumes first rise and then precipitate. By measuring in the air, air quality or a potentially dangerous situation are detected more quickly. The sniffing drone measures 20 of the most dangerous substances, such as acetone, hydrochloric acid, chlorine gas and carbon dioxide. The drone is already being used by the Twente Fire Brigade in certain situations.

Result-oriented collaboration

The sniffing drone has been developed by three parties: the Saxion University of Applied Sciences, the Twente fire brigade and Robor Electronics from Bentelo. In addition to being able to measure the air, the drone can also store an air sample during the measurement. This sample can be used as forensic evidence. Moreover, the drone provides more clarity on the safety of firefighters when they are at work.

Date: 12 July 2019 |

Author: Twente.com

Continue reading about #safety