IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service is looking to
unmanned aircraft as a way to track forest fires while keeping
Tracking the location of a forest fire is a crucial part of
battling the blaze. Traditionally, fire managers have relied on
pilots flying over the flames at night, shooting pictures using
heat-sensitive cameras. Mission managers then assign tasks based on
But there are situations that are too dangerous for human pilots
- such as low visibility caused by a smoky fire.
So when the U.S. Forest Service learned of the tests that
researchers at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental
Laboratory were doing on small, cheaper unmanned aerial vehicles,
they jumped on board.
"We're always looking for new and better ways to accomplish
things," said Everett Hinkley, who works for the Forest Service's
Remote Sensing Applications Center.
The Forest Service is planning to try out a few with
heat-sensing cameras on a fire this spring or summer somewhere in
Montana, Hinkley said.
Some tests done at the laboratory last year show that as many as
five of the small, unmanned aircraft can be monitored by a single
"It's the advent of cheap computing technologies and cheap
sensors that has made these affordable. We couldn't have done it
three or four years ago," said Scott Bauer, INEEL's project
The planes are already used for national security surveillance,
and can be adapted for a variety of tasks, depending on the
instruments they take on board, he said.
The key has been making them affordable, which also reduces the
risk of losing one, so that they can be used by clients with
smaller pocketbooks, Bauer said.
The laboratory's work in improving the computer controls and
sensors also attracted the attention of NASA, which has been
working for more than 10 years on improving and standardizing
unmanned aerial vehicles.
NASA did its own tests last year when it flew an unmanned aerial
vehicle equipped with a camera over small fires set in drums. The
planes were able to send back real-time video using a satellite
connection, said Alan Brown, a NASA spokesman.
NASA also is helping the Federal Aviation Administration develop
guidelines that would assure the vehicles can be used without being
a threat to manned aircraft or people on the ground.
The problem today is that the small aerial vehicles can be
invisible to other planes or air traffic controllers on the ground,
"They need a see-and-avoidance system," he said, adding the
vehicles also need technologies that will allow the craft to
operate independently but predictably.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 3 of 3
Thread: Unmanned Detection
01-03-2005, 12:31 AM #1
Unmanned DetectionProudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones
*Gathering Crust Since 1968*
On the web at www.section2wildfire.com
01-05-2005, 12:44 AM #2
- Join Date
- Dec 2002
This project looks workable and cost effective.I would think in theory this could work with many other types of events, natural or man-made.
Un-manned drone craft could do assessments during emergencies such as floods,fires and terror attacks.
Non-emergencies duties like border patroling and harber surrveillance during high risk periods.
This could become one the better tools in the tool box for sizeup and damage assessment during wildfires.
01-06-2005, 06:38 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jan 2004
Not sure if any of you have heard about these but they were invented by a guy on my department... our district has bought several and we have them at strategic locations around our district. We have had them alert us to lightning strikes, luckily no wildland fires yet.
It's just a cool idea, I get no compensation from them at all.
Users Browsing this Thread
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)