Our goal was to create a remote-controlled fire suppression boat with a turret that can pan to change where water is sprayed. Subsequently, our boat would have to be stable in water and have a robust propulsion and pump spraying system. Moving forward, we had to consider keeping the boat in place as spraying water generates significant forces on the boat. If time permitted, we also wanted to implement a fire detection system which would allow automatic detection of fires. We also planned to include a Bluetooth receiver on the vessel to enable remote-control from any Android powered phone.
For durability, we constructed a composite fiberglass hull so that it would be stable enough to allow field testing on Lake Waban and to resist torques applied to the boat by its spraying system. Being a fire boat, it needed to be fast in order to respond to fires quickly. The fire extinguishing system would have to be capable of extinguishing small fires while delivering approximately 1 liter per second flow rate. It was also important that the turret aim the water at a fixed angle from the horizontal, but be capable of sweeping from side to side. Of course, while doing this, the boat will maintain its position when spraying.
With our twin bilge pumps we knew we'd be able to pump 2 liters of water per second through the boat providing ample power for our fire extinguishing and propulsion system simultaneously. Precise dynamics calculations assisted us in designing a propulsion system capable of delivering the necessary thrust to drive the boat. We also wanted our boat to contain accelerometers and gyroscopes to sense the loading due to the pump forces as well as sophisticated algorithms on the PIC drive the response of the propulsion system to this loading.