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  1. #1
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
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    Post Unmanned Detection

    IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service is looking to
    unmanned aircraft as a way to track forest fires while keeping
    firefighters safe.
    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
    the photos.
    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
    operator.
    "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
    manager.
    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,
    Brown said.
    "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.)
    Proudly 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


  2. #2
    Forum Member
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    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.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber
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    CO
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    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.

    http://www.fire-scout.com/

    It's just a cool idea, I get no compensation from them at all.

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