Firefighting Drones

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Drone weighs only a few pounds, but it could be the key to preventing a small brush fire from turning into a larger one.

DEG Fire Fighter Assistance Drone Squad proposes a squadron of autonomous drones addressing fire detection, combat monitoring and aftermath operations.

For detection the squadron is capable of being sent to areas with a high prevalence of fire, is able to detect hot spots and warn the nearest fire-fighting authorities. Authorities receive the thermal image of the area, a short video and the geographic coordinates of the event.

In a fire-fighting scenario, our squadron of drones provides real-time images of the fire and GPS positioning of the various fire fronts, so the command center on the ground can better plan the fire-fighting strategy.

The aerial view can be crucial in detecting possible entrapment of ground teams due to swift changes in the fire-fronts, alerting them in time to change their position. A more precise monitoring of the evolution of the fire, as well as identifications of clear and safe paths, aids the command decisions to have a more effective action.

In this scenario we anticipate a reduction in manpower positioned on the ground, freeing them to respond to other situations. The drones fly over the burnt area and send thermal imaging data, GPS coordinates and short video of the area where a reigniting might be taking place.

University of Missouri students traveled to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste in Costa Rica to train a fleet of firefighters how to use drone technology to protect the area.
On the expedition, two Science and Agricultural Journalism students set fire to the Parcelo de Prince (Prince Plot) in the conservation area.

The use of unmanned aircraft or drones by American military has been controversial and has grabbed international headlines for its deadly strikes. But the drone technology can also be used to save lives as a German company has showed. The company has already helped fight fires in Germany with the help of drones, and has expressions of interest from as far afield as France, Indonesia and Australia. Al Jazeera’s Nick Spicer reports from Germany.

The RMIT UAS Research team is currently collaborating with the MFB (Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board) on gas sensing onboard their multi-rotors.

This research was made possible, in part, through support from the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

South Metro Fire plans to use its remote-control drone to help in firefighting. The $3,000 drone, equipped with a video camera, can assess structural issues as fires are burning.

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